Friday, March 27, 2009

But it would have been disappointing any other way....





So, the Art Bergmann extravaganza at Richards happened last night. I've been thinking about it all day, my overtired brain trying to sort the experience out. This always happens when I go see bands from back in the day. I'd like to say back in my misspent youth, but truthfully it wasn't all that misspent. At least not in comparison to that of the man on stage last night.


The 'bad':
Sigh. Maybe my brain is the 'bad', but it was really ... not right ... to see Art without his guitar - apparently a necessary thing due to very bad arthritis. And weird to see him having to refer to lyric sheets, but understandable really. And his vocals are maybe not what they have been in the past. All yet another reminder to me about how much I would like to put an official ban on aging, and recommend some sort of butt-stamped expiry date that we can all knowingly work towards. I don't know if it was me projecting that Art seemed a bit lost at first as to what to do without his instrument, but he did. Luckily he also figured it out pretty quickly. Or maybe I just relaxed about it all.

And I have to admit, I yearned for some of the Young Canadians stuff - but you can't have it all I guess.


The good:

The hands may have gone, but the attitude remains. It's always my biggest fear when going to see something like this that you are going to find your edgy hero transformed into a pillowy, conformist guy that is trying really hard to pretend he's still got it. Not Art - he's still slurred, snarling, shooter drinking fun.

And truthfully, he was a bit of a train wreck from time to time. But that is also what gives it the edge Art has always had, and what makes it worth coming out for on a school...I mean work...night.And everything came together beautifully at times - Vultura Freeway was fantastic, fantastic.

The stuff I love, just because being judgmental is FUN:

Oooh I do love to watch audiences, and this was a good one to watch. The club was sold out, and packed with a curious mix of under 20's and over 40's. I sort of missed the first opener (name has gone from my head just like their music did) because I was transfixed by a smurf dancing with a member of The Knack. I was happy to see a Tim Harrington wanna-be in the middle of the audience, exposed belly rubbed by those around him. A good mix. Though I must say I did feel a bit sorry for the woman who asked me how the washrooms were - one of the many I am sure who had not been to Richards recently, if at all. I smiled and told her the truth - well, not quite the truth, which is that they look like something out of a japanese horror film, with moisture oozing out of the walls into puddles on the floor, toilets that either don't flush or continuously flush, doors your hands stick to if you aren't careful...you get the picture. Or if you're lucky, you don't.

And my favorite dysfunctional sound guy duo were on site - a strange, master/slave relationship consisting of a anxious-squirrel-like underling (hyperactive, actually gnawing furiously at duct tape on the mic with his teeth at one point, yet inattentive at REALLY key moments), and a larger abusive master. It didn't get to the boiling point I've seen before (where Master got on stage, took over the lead mic, and berated his underling directly to the audience), but there was some interesting bullying going on to the side of the stage anyway. I should feel sorry for the squirrel in the relationship, but I know enough about how a good tech behaves from hanging out with a tech friend to feel much sympathy. And they've been together for years, so they must both enjoy it on some level. And honestly, Art Bergmann has got to be a sound tech's nightmare - tossing liquid waaaay too close to the electronics, throwing mics and stands around the stage - but that's why you've got to be on your toes, squirrel boy.

I have recorded two or three songs that I will post in the next day or so - my camera notoriously struggles with Richard's lack of lighting, but whatcha gonna do. Here's Junkie Don't Care...enjoy (for some reason I uploaded this to a youtube account I didn't actually know I had - don't ask, just know I am tired - but if you want to check later to see if I've uploaded more AB, go here)