Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sweatin' to the Oldies....54-40, Neil Young, Bob Dylan

The last week (and more) has been crazy busy. Quite frankly the idea of even trying to post something was way too much work. But it's Sunday, and I have 20 minutes free before my next mission (visiting my Dad).

So here goes. At least briefly.

Welcome to my youth.

54-40 were one of my first concert-going obsessions. I used to go see them all the time playing in little grim halls in Vancouver with my friend Barb in the early 80s (unlicensed places that would let 15 year olds in thankfully). They were fantastic. And sometimes the opening band was the Grapes of Wrath. And my friend Barb knew the GoW- she had been on holiday in Kelowna one summer with her parents, and was walking down the main street when a car full of guys (who turned out to be the band) pulled over and said Hi. Barb had blue hair, so they thought she must be cool. There weren't many cool people in Kelowna apparently. So they hung out. And she began a long penpal-friendship with them (oh the complexities of life before email...). This didn't really impact my life very much except we'd get to chat with the band when they were in town playing, and I once watched in horror/amazement as the drummer Chris ate a big mac in two bites when we sat in the MacDonalds at Granville and Smithe before their gig.

Barb and I eventually stopped hanging out. Last I heard of her, she got married in a teepee and joined a cult near Pemberton run by her psychic mother in law and had two blond boys that looked like they should be out of Children of the Corn. But I kept going to 54-40 gigs. And I remember when I hit 19, going to the Savoy and reading some rather complimentary washroom graffiti about Neil Osborne's non-musical talents...which for some reason I have chosen not to forget. But I digress.

SO - it was great to see 54-50 again, and extra great to see Grapes of Wrath's Tom Hooper playing with them. I've got to say they seemed a little mellower than usual - but they sounded great. I can't help but wonder if Neil's slightly ... mocking? jokey? not sure how to put it... performance "I Go Blind" is a result of the happy bouncing oblivion of the audience - like most of the band's songs, it is highly political & am not sure the audience really gets that. Or maybe it is that they are sick of singing a song that is now known more by the Hootie & the Blowfish version than their own (though I know they've got to love the royalties from that). OK, admittedly, I'm just projecting.

Neil Young & Bob Dylan

Oh where to start. Neil put it all out there, thrashy guitar and all. Bob brought his increasingly...unique...voice and a great tight band - and arrangements so different I am guessing they confused a fair chunk of the audience. And before I run out of steam a couple of comments:

1) DAMN you LiveNation. When I bought Neil Young tickets, you were selling them for the 'concert bowl' - HALF of GM Place. My tickets were good. When we arrived, the whole stadium was sold, the stage moved waaaaay further back, making my pre-sale tickets pretty shitty. Since when is changing the stakes part way through ticket sales OK? Grrrr.

2) Who let these people out? I see a lot of live music. A lot. A lot of fairly alternative stuff. These two concerts were as mainstream as you could get. And god help me these were perhaps the most bizarre, rude, loud, annoying audiences I've come across (ok, with the exception of here). Our Neil Young view was partially impared by the distracting view of two guys so...special...ok, I will stop or it will get nasty. But here is a picture of them.

And I will make the comment that if you are such a huge fan of the performer, why do you spend all your time talking to your friend? or turning to face the (seated, except for you) audience as you pump your fists in the air? Please. Go home until you learn some manners. I'm all for audiences enjoying themselves. I'm all for freedom of expression. That is, until it impedes the ability of others to enjoy the experience too. Like the teenage boy sitting behind you who couldn't see a damn thing. Grrr.

Anyway, for those who are interested, a fairly crap Neil Young vid, and a slightly better Bob Dylan one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What fun...

Andrew Bird and Yo-Yo Ma. What fun. I will post something more substantial soon, once chaos stops reigning...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's all about the front man...

Gorgeous sunny fall day today. If only my house were already clean, it would be a perfect day. As it is, I am avoiding cleaning by blogging, but I can't avoid for long.

Two gigs to report on: Weezer and Hayden - experiences as similar as apples and tacos.

Weezer at GM Place:
Since this night, I have been thinking about whether my affection for Weezer is really just affection for Rivers Cuomo. I think it probably is. No disrespect to the rest of the band, but Rivers could front a pile of tree stumps and it would still be worth watching. If you were looking for a guy to front your band, I'm guessing you wouldn't set out "small framed, bespeckled, just-balding, porn-stache sporting" as your criteria. But man does he wear it well.

The night opened with Angels & Airwaves, Tom DeLonge's new band. And I will follow the rule of "if you don't have anything nice to say..." and leave it at that.

Weezer came on in Devo-like white jumpsuits (later to be taken off to show some mighty fine red Weezer old school track suits), with Rivers adding to the effect with some weird medical-looking balaclava covering his face, and owned the place from note one. Seriously one of the most purely entertaining things I've seen in a while. Let it be said though, as much as I like seeing fans enjoy themselves, there are some that I would like to be able to BAN. Forever. From attending ANYTHING. We sat behind one such guy ... he heckled Angels & Airwaves, I think to impress his (girl you could do so much better) girlfriend, and was pretty obnoxious during the first few Weezer songs. Until, that is, he lit up a joint and was promptly turfed from the building. Ahhh sweet justice. You can hear his grating 'buenos noches' at the beginning of this video. I think he ceased to exist by the end of it.

The night ended off with the Weezer Hootenany of local fans, which I managed to film:

There are about a half dozen more songs here as usual.

Hayden, Vogue Theatre:
First - this wasn't sold out. FOR SHAME! (Not that it was badly attended, but it should have sold out).

Ahh Hayden. How great. His between song stories are almost worth the price of admission on their own. Unfortunately I didn't manage to tape the stories, or the moment when the audience reaction to a song cracked him up to the point he had to stop and collect himself. But I did manage to tape a few songs, albeit broken up by the bodies of people walking up and down the aisle I happened to be sitting beside, leaving my poor camera losing its mechanical mind trying to focus/refocus. The videos are a bit dark - I have "lightened" them as much as I dare, which has left them a bit grey and weird looking, but oh well. Here are a couple - Woody, a song about Hayden's cat which I also used as the soundtrack for Thom's Bellyrub

And I should say that I think Woody must now be a bit of a thorn in Hayden's side. It's a very short song about his cat, likely put together without nearly as much effort as most of his other stuff, but THIS is the song the audience is calling for (which could be due to some of the very funny stories he has told about the song, and his cat, when introducing it in the past). I'm guessing there is an untapped market for songs about cats....I'm just saying. And here is Hollywood Ending, which includes Cuff the Duke, who were backing him up this tour. Excuse the gimpy framing at the start - I had my stealth camera viewfinder cover on, and couldn't see a damn thing I was filming at first. If you really feel like watching the videos it is worth going to the YouTube site and watching them in High Quality mode - they appear kind of blurry otherwise. I will be posting a few more for those who care.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


Ya, you read it right. Just don't ask me to pronounce it.

And I don't know what it is with Iceland and the etherial.

Moving on though - Sæglópur is the name of the Sigur Ros song in this video, kindly uploaded to Youtube by another attendee (and by far the best quality vid I could find posted). I was too chicken to take my camera for once - and was kicking myself because we were perfectly positioned for stealth filming as it turns out. Oh well. Sometimes it is good just to watch. And this is a 7:00 minute video, so be warned. But if you do watch, hang in for at least half of it. It was a really really good gig - I have to admit being a bit disappointed that they didn't bring their string and brass section with them, but oh well. They sure managed to fill the (wonderful, wonderful Chan...oh how I love you) space without any extra help. And extra big cudos to the very, very attentive audience. There was a pause of about 30 seconds in the middle of one song, and you could have heard a pin drop. No calls, or whistles, or whoops, or 'yeaaaaahhhhhhs' to break the silence. Tomorrow night: Weezer. Saturday night: Hayden. Which is why I am posting this now, however brief, or I will not get around to mentioning it as I will have too much else to talk about.

This is actually my first night at home in a week...or more come to think of it. VIFF is finally wrapping up, and I saw about a dozen films. Quite by accident, most of them had to do with either music or blindness. Hmmm. There were so many more I wanted to see, and it pains me as I know it was most likely my only chance for many of them. It's hard for me to pick a favorite, but a few stood out:

Largo : outstanding film about a small club in LA - it is entirely performance footage, largely musicians (Fiona Apple, Andrew Bird...) but some comedians as well (John C Reilly's story about Burt Reynolds and the filming of Magnolia a highlight...). Nothing big budget, and so beautifully intimate it drew you right in.

Throw down your Heart: Banjo king Bela Fleck and his brother made this great documentary following Bela's travels through Africa to find the roots of the banjo. And you know how much I like banjo.

Passage: John Walker's beautifully shot, beautifully structured documentary about one of history's unsung figures, John Rae, who brought back news about the Franklin expedition that no one in Britain wanted to hear. Brits after all don't usually snack on eachother.

As Slow as Possible: Love the idea of this documentary. A Canadian man who is going blind travels to Germany to witness the changing of a note in a 600+year playing of a John Cage composition, "As slow as possible" - and does an amazing job of explaining his experience of the world, and of his situation. How much do I love the fact that a group of Germans decided to dedicate a church, and an organ, to playing the same song for over 600 years? How much do I love the fact that the first note was in fact a rest that lasted 18 months? A lot.

There were more worth mentioning, but I am running out of steam.

Friday, October 03, 2008


Woke up this morning to a puddle of water on my hardwood floor....where did it come from? Well, I guess you could say THE SKY. Via the ceiling fixture, via MY LEAKING ROOF. Oh wait - let me clarify: my NEW LEAKING ROOF. New as of 10 months ago. And the drywall on the ceiling that is now buckling? Ya, that was new as of about 3 years ago too.

So far, the roofing crew manager has shown up. He took some photos. He was very quiet. I was very quiet. He didn't have a ladder (?!!). I didn't have a ladder. He left to get a ladder. Two hours ago. And I am waiting for his return.

I am furious. Really. Furious. Furious at the thought of having to live through drywall dust one more time. Furious that for two years I lived with a completely sketchy, rag-tag roof, worried about leaks which never happened. Furious that after spending $12,000 I relaxed completely about the possibilities of leaks. More fool me.

But enough of that. On a happier house note, Thomas Kitten Esq. made his final fabric selection as you can see (a gold polka-dotted number that matches his eyes quite nicely), and the chair has now been ordered.