Sunday, September 30, 2007


Cats had their rabies shots yesterday. Cat tummies not too good this morning.

Unfeeling cat-slave me is going to spend the day at VIFF instead of ministering to the needs of my cat overlords.

I am sure I will pay for that somehow.

Friday, September 28, 2007

If I get a new roof, will Sufjan stand on it? AKA Did Someone Say Banjo Episode #4

Just wondering. I am currently killing time waiting for the sales guy from the roofing company (who is now officially late) and found this. And I've gotta say, if the 5-figure cost of replacing the roof included a cute, incredibly talented banjo playing American perched on top as in the video here, I would consider it money well spent.

I should also mention that la Blogotheque (creators/posters of the video) have a really great collection of stuff, "take away concerts" of artists performing all over the place (bathrooms, streets, bars, houses...a roof....). But if you're anything like me, be prepared to lose at least an hour of your life sifting through the videos they post...but then again, they tend to profile bands I am already smitten with.

But enough of that. I'm still waiting. The roofer is now half an hour late. The more I think about it, the more the Bunkle would suit a roof-standing banjo player (maybe he could double as a weather vane? Oh the possibilities....)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Crowd Joy Madness

Was just looking at some of the youtube videos of the Flaming Lips at Malkin Bowl. This 15 second number isn't great quality, but it really best captures what it was all like.

There is another video of Wayne Coyne rolling over the camera holder in his space bubble. I prefer to keep that for private viewing (if I watch it enough times, maybe I will believe it was me holding the camera...)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Is it real or is it Memorex?

I wasn't going to write anything tonight. But here I am, writing way too much.

It was the final concert of the September concert season last night - Smashing Pumpkins, with The Bravery as an opener. It was good - well, I enjoyed nostalgia moment of seeing the Pumpkins, very much, which is what I went for. I left happy. And tired. And with more questions in my head than answers.

Question #1: Exactly how tall IS Billy Corgan? Either his bandmates are all under 5'5" or Billy is a giant. I was pretty convinced of the latter. I spent a lot of the concert trying to figure out how much his body falls outside of the classical 7-head rule you learn in art school (or alternately, how much larger his head would have to be to make him look less...gigantic). I finally decided he is one-half head out. Height wise. I don't mean his head is one-half head too small...thank god. And I did have to look up his height - and it's only 6'3". Which makes me think his body is longer (or his head is tinier) than I have calculated, or he wouldn't seem so...gigantic. Whether or not these questions were plaguing me because I was sitting next to a truly delightfully Beavis & Butthead pair of young-un's who were smoking a never ending string of weed I am not sure...

Question #2: Uncle Fester or Zippy the Pinhead? Don't get me wrong, I loved the white knickers, striped hose, and short sleeved white shirt over striped long sleeved T. I loved the white boots. But something about the proportions made him seem like the love child of Fester and Zippy. Sorry. And honestly, I think Billy is extremely cool, despite these comments, and despite his tendency to hang out with Courtney Love. Once again, wondering if these thoughts are more a result of inhaling beside Beavis & Butthead than anything.

Question #3: Is it real, or is it fake? As mentioned, the Bravery opened the evening. I had heard one song they played before. As soon as I clapped eyes on the lead singer and his posed, stiff-armed guitar moves, it was over. It was like a big sign flashing "DON'T THANK ME, THANK MY IMAGE CONSULTANT, BABY" was flashing over his head. Every move of his admirably lanky and nattily attired frame screamed of a self conscious attempt to be a rockstar (cue crowd noise). And I am completely perplexed as to what the specific signals are that make that so painfully apparent. I've seen plenty of bands with singers that strike all sorts of weird poses and move around in any number of twitchy ways but for some reason it comes across as being real. It comes from the heart, and when it does it is a beautiful thing and makes me love them even more. Good lord, even the king of camp Freddie Mercury never left you questioning how genuine and true to himself his very stagey moves were, whether or not you liked him or his music. And it amazes me that it is so easy to tell the difference between what is honest and what is not. It doesn't help that the band follows a particular type of formulaic "I-want-to-be-Alt-'cause the shoes are cool" pop (did anyone say The Killers? Anyone?) that I really don't have patience for. But maybe it's just me. Ok, I know it's not just me, because when I leaned over to my brother and said "I want to slap the lead singer" he said "YESSS!" ...

Question #4: What band is this again? Can a band be the same band when half the band members are different? If you hire people that kinda sorta look like the old band members, does it make it more 'real' than if you hired something completely new and different? Tough questions. And a tough situation for any band interested in reforming. Trying to satisfy a nostalgic audience isn't always easy. Hang on - yes, it is. Case in point: Dave Wakeling, touring as the English Beat. Trust me, the band looked nothing like the original band. NOTHING. And in a way, that helped preserve the memory of what the original band was...but I have to admit, when I first saw them I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. So maybe it isn't that easy. I certainly didn't have a hard time believing I was watching The Smashing Pumpkins.

Question #5: Doesn't that make your neck hurt? Ahh, Beavis & Butthead, my stair-sitting friends. God bless your enthusiasm, and the amazing timing/choreography that seemed to go along with your flailing, twitching, headbanging moves. It was actually quite sweet to watch. And it was genuine. And that, really, is all I ask.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Snappity Snap Snap

I've been thinking about digital cameras a lot recently. I guess there isn't enough to spend my money on right now (roof? gutters? Thomas' tooth extractions? Sounds like a pretty light month financially...ha hahaha ... sigh). I am using a little Sony 3.2 megapixel Cybershot that was a gift from work for 5 years at the company - so that means I've had it 5 years. And it has been a nice little camera really. But now I'm using it more I'm noticing the not-so-great resolution, and the shutter speed is horrifyingly slow. Though sometimes the slow shutter leads to pleasant surprises - like Mr. Mouth here - and who can complain about Mr. Mouth? Certainly not Mr. Fuzzyhead, in photo #2. Or Mr. Fish. (excuse my rambling - I actually snorted a whack of mustard powder a minute ago. Not intentional, I was just trying to figure out what it was - it is one of a few unlabeled bags of spice. Now that my nose has exploded and my right eye is watering, I can confidently label it "mustard").

The world of digitals is overwhelming. I fantasize about having a DSLR, but I don't really know that it is what I really need - and it certainly isn't what I can afford. What I want is something that has a great optical zoom and great shutter speed. I like what I've read about this Panasonic
but if anyone has any suggestions or opinions on digitals, I'd love to hear them!

Until then, I'll happily keep taking snaps of Mr. Fuzzyhead.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

She uses tangerines....

Flaming Lips last night at Malkin Bowl. Thankfully the rain stopped by the time opener Black Moth Super Rainbow played (and cudos to them - particularly for the disturbing use of Richard Simmons "Sweating to the Oldies" videos), and in the end, I am glad that it was moved from the Orpheum. We staked out our usual spot near the side of the stage, squished into a crazy happy squirmy crowd. And what a lot to be happy about.

Before I go further, let me admit that I have a long standing, monumental crush on Wayne Coyne. If I had to run off with a rock star, he'd be at the top of the list. I promise that hasn't skewed my review. Really...

So - the night started out with Wayne climbing inside his inflatable space bubble and rolling across the audience, assisted during the inflation by 8 people in santa suits, 8 girls in alien outfits/masks, and a slew of roadies in padded super hero outfits. The only disappointment of the night is that he didn't roll over me - for a split second, it looked like that just might happen, and I could die a happy woman. Ahhh, so close....

It wasn't a show, it was an all consuming event. Streamers and confetti, giant balloons, smoke megaphones, mechanical doves, a "head camera" attached to Wayne's mic that projected his face onto the big screen behind - it was never ending creativity. And never ending fun. I loved it. And so did the rest of the audience. You couldn't not get wrapped up in it.

So, if you didn't go, I feel for you. It isn't often that a spectacle like this comes to our fair city. Judging by how packed the venue was, there were lots that knew this was something not to be missed.

And when I got home, I discovered my rain coat hood also works well to catch yellow confetti...maybe I'll toss it in the air later and relive the evening for the cats. The only question is where to find an inflatable space bubble...

Concert photos by g.mcmullin

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Anthem for the Already Defeated?

So went to the much anticipated (by me at least...) Rock Plaza Central show at Pat's Pub. They were supposed to be playing with O'Death, but apparently they got caught at the border. Drag, from the few tracks I've heard I was really interested in seeing them play. So...what was I in for?

the venue: Hadn't been to Pat's before; it is steps away from The Chapel at the bottom of the Patricia Hotel. Actually kind of like the layout - good seating, biggish space. One lesson though - if you are there to watch the band, don't sit at the tables against the pony wall that leads on to the rest of the pub - that is, unless you want to get involved in conversation with the loud, drunk regulars on the other side of the wall. Otherwise, the staff were really great and the food was about as good as you could expect a pub burger/pulled pork extravaganza to be.

the sound: Hmmm. PA upgrade maybe a good idea, but overall it wasn't bad. The reason I comment is more on the twilight-zone weirdness of the sound techs - the scrawny long haired guy (actually the same guy I mentioned being berated at this gig) and a younger woman with dark, thick hair pulled back into a ponytail. If you happen to go to clubs in Toronto & pay attention to the sound techs, chances are you will see a (drum roll please...) scrawny long haired guy and a younger woman with dark, thick hair pulled back into a ponytail (who is my good pal A. ). Cue Twilight Zone music.

the audience: Was there an audience? Oops, blink and you'll miss them. I'm only slightly joking - attendance was really really poor. A big chunk of the small audience left after the first set (I suspect they may have been there to see O'Death), but those that stuck poured out as much love as their 20-odd hearts could. Not really sure why the low numbers - the band has great press, lots of attention internationally, television airplay - poor promotion maybe? I shake my head Vancouver, I really do. For shame.

the band: were great. The second set in particular really came together well, and god love the enthusiasm with which they played for such a tiny group of people. They deserve all the attention they are getting - the mandolin/brass/guitar combo they present is great (the band was slightly scaled down for the tour), and I love love love the songwriting. Clever, touching stuff. What more could you want. Vancouver, are you listening??

So - big hugs to you Rock Plaza Central. Sorry Vancouver wasn't giving you the attention you deserve, but come back again ... we'll do better next time, I promise.

Another reason to turn on the lights....

Because this would be pretty scary to run into in the dark. Who's kidding who - it's actually a little scary even after the lights are on.

More on Rock Plaza Central's show later....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We've got a lot to be glad for

Plans are to see Rock Plaza Central Friday night at Pat's Pub. Never been there (has anyone? horrorshow? delight? inquiring minds want to know...) but I have high hopes for the show. Both RPC albums are in high rotation at the Bunkle - the perfection of imperfection draws me in every single time, as do the crazy array of string instruments, and reports from pals in TO are that they are a great live act.

I posted this video despite it's not super brilliant quality both because I love the song and because it appears to have been filmed in Toronto - and my thoughts have been on TO more than usually recently because the Toronto International Film Fest is on - and I'm missing it. Again. Which is a huge drag. Such a drag that I almost can't stand hearing/reading/seeing anything about it. BUT - I will console myself with Rock Plaza Central, and perusing through the VIFF catalogue this weekend to try and choose some films out here, over a coffee. And I will buy tickets calmly, from the comfort of my own home. I will not scramble to choose my first choices, and my second, in time for a raffle. I will not line up at an ungodly hour on the day tickets are released to see which choices I have lucked out on. Nope, not me. I will do it all calmly, on line, and god knows I will get everything I want to because that's just the way things work out here.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

A nice place to visit, but i wouldn't want to live there

Saw the Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Commodore last night. This will be the second time - last year the show was at Richards. Last year, I was nervous about how it would go - but it was as good as I think BJM show could ever be. It was LOOOONG - not only because of Anton Newcombe's smoke breaks, requests for a pizza, and 15 minute fixation on the final note of the final song.

But that was last year.

The ten second summary of last night is this: band "intro" music running / lights down for about 15 minutes until the band actually walked on stage at midnight; short one hour show, punctuated by Anton's abusive comments at band and audience (more on that later); show abruptly ends when an audience idiot lobs a beer bottle at Anton (here's a link to that unfortunate incident - it is too depressing for me to post here, but take a look if you want), who spits out a confrontational response and concludes that this is the last time he will play Canada. Audience bewildered, hanging on just incase the show wasn't really over. It was.

This is going to be a long one, so I'll break it down:

Audience: By now, I'm sure that everyone that attends a BJM show has seen DIG!, the documentary that came out three or so years ago. I've included a clip from the doc here, because this, fortunately or unfortunately, is the "source material" for audiences. The short version is that you can get Anton to go off like a bomb without too much effort. Unfortunately, for a particular type of audience member, this becomes the purpose of going to the show. It's like watching bear bating, and it makes me ... sad ... actually. And frustrated. I'm there to see the band play, and when they DO play, they're great. As for last night, we were up on the balcony and there was a guy at the table beside us that would yell - "SUCK MY [MALE CHICKEN], YOU [FORNICATING BUNDLE OF STICKS]" - ok, not quite that wording - at any opportunity. And of course he would wave his arms around in joy when the band actually played. One of the guys I was with overheard the same guy in the bathroom - he was punching the wall and frothing over how he wanted to take Anton on. Why, why, why do people like this leave there homes and insist on interacting with the rest of society? Why?

Anton: Where to start. The man is not looking like the best version of himself at this moment in time. Shirtless on stage, he is skinny and kind of ... grey looking. I'm not sure if he is clean right now or not, but if I were the betting kind, I'd say not. And he can be one incredibly cutting, cruel SOB, snapping at an incredibly long suffering band and the audience that paid to get in with fair regularity. But - I have sympathy for the guy. I do believe he is incredibly musically talented, and I also believe that he cannot be anything BUT what he is - an exceedingly difficult, self-destructive musical obsessive (obsessiveness demonstrated by the fact he was behind the sound board for most of the opening act, and between acts, doing who the hell knows what but I'm sure it wasn't fun for the sound guy). I don't think his reactivity is something he can control - and I also think his particular brain can't really understand the consequences of his actions - or at least see clearly enough to learn to manipulate the world around him to his advantage. That brain cannot be a comfortable place to live. Or maybe I'm totally off base, I just can't logic out any other explanation.

The band: Hats of to the long suffering band and crew. Being at the receiving end of that sharp tongue cannot be easy. Not sure why you stay, but I'm glad you do.

So, there it is. And here I am, still slightly bewildered.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Watch where you sit...

One reason it is always important to turn on the bathroom light.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Raining...dogs at least

Crowded House on the weekend. In the rain, thanks to the persistence of the city strike. As it was slated to rain on concert night, I decided to fully give myself over to permanent residency in Vancouver and buy a really waterproof coat. After dragging my pals around the city trying to find something that didn't make me look like a peanut m&m, I decided on this, which makes me feel vaguely like a member of the SS, which I'm not sure is a good thing but I'm going with it. After a night in dry comfort despite the persistent drizzle, I have learned to love it.

As for the concert - it was really more of a nostalgia trip for me than anything, but the band proved they've still got it going on. God knows that there are few that can put together a pop song with the finesse that Neil Finn can. I seem to have grown up watching him play - in Split Enz in the early 80's in the decidedly non-acoustically brilliant ex-skating rink, the Kerrisdale Arena (where I also saw the Jam, the Clash, the Psychedelic Furs, Love & Rockets and god knows what else - this concert going habit has been long lived...), to an unbelievably great Neil Finn solo tour that hit the Phoenix in Toronto about 6 years ago, and a decidedly mediocre Finn Brothers tour a year or two after that. Anyway, it was good to go back in time and see a band that I didn't have a chance to see in their heyday, and they didn't disappoint. The one thing they knocked off the bill was Liam Finn, because of the change in venue. Now I've listened to some of his stuff online I'm disappointed.

As for the audience - the rain kept the giddiness and arm sways to a minimum thankfully (I'm such a curmudgeon), but I did feel like knocking the heads of the couple standing in front of me together when the woman started singing directly to her boyfriend. For the love of all that is sacred, go to a karaoke bar and put the rest of us out of our misery. PLEASE.

Anyway, I've included a clip of Neil Finn solo - really hoping he doesn't have a 'man-servant', but I guess if I had that much money I would - heck, I'd have MANY - so who am I to judge?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Smells Like Paul Anka...

OK, I actually found myself looking this up today - I saw it months ago, and actually WANTED to listen to it again. How's that for a confession.

Part of me hates to admit it, but Canada's first teen idol owns it in his own, weird, fake-baked way.

If I don't go to hell for the Tiny Tim photo, surely I'll go for giving this more air time.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Andrew Bird

So, the September concert chaos has started, with Andrew Bird at Richards. Good show. And with VERY devoted fans. As per usual, we showed up half an hour before the doors opened in order to secure our good-view-seating-for-old-people on the balcony. Usually, we end up being first in line. Maybe 3rd or 4th at most. Not so much this time - let's try 25th maybe? Anyway, luckily we managed to snag the last three good-view-seating-for-old-people stools. Phew.

Interesting stuff - I didn't realize that he played so much with looping ( Martin Dosh, Bird's drummer/keyboard guy is a looping king). Twitchy, stripey socked stage presence. Strong, lovely vocals and fantastic violin. All good, all good. (I'm really too tired to write something more detailed. Sorry - or maybe that's a blessing?)

Vocally I can't help but compare his tone and soaring vocals to Jeff Buckley. Bird obviously is playing around with things to a much greater extent, but there is something about his vocals that kept bringing Buckley to mind.

Visually - ok, I may go to hell for this, but I can't help it.