Sunday, April 20, 2008

I started out scared...

Finally, another music post - I know I said I'd post more on the Black Keys/Black Mountain weekend, but I didn't, and it's too far gone now. I don't suspect many of you are that disappointed...

But last night is fresh enough to talk about - Daniel Johnston at Richards on Richards. I was first introduced to Daniel Johnston's music when I saw The Devil and Daniel Johnston at TIFF in 2005. I have mixed feelings about how my impression of a musician is affected by films like this (or DIG! for the Brian Jonestown Massacre, which seems to have made Anton Newcombe into a figure to bait not listen to) - you go into the situation with some strong preconceptions, it's inevitable - that being said, I think some of the context it provides is valuable. And it is an excellent film. My two second backgrounder on Johnston is that he is a severely bipolar guy growing up in a conservative Christian household. He's had some very rough times as a result of his condition, but has managed to be a prolific songwriter, beloved by many better knowns from Bowie to Kurt Cobain.

Enough boring factual stuff. Sorry.

So, we lined up early as per usual. A guy who was obviously a traveller asked us whether it was going to be a show worth going to - he'd heard it was "folk". How do you even start to describe Daniel Johnston? And who wants the responsibility of recommending what is going to be an experience that will definitely not be to everyone's taste?

So here we go - the Bunklelife Review:

1) The Opener: Holy crap! (not the opener, my reaction....) The opener was Ford Pier, a Vancouver guy I am completely unfamiliar with, though he has apparently been around for awhile. And he rolls out on stage in his tapered 90s suit pants, pleasant gray shirt, lace up oxfords, looking very much like the sales guy down the hall from you at work. Or the pleasant-seeming guy you meet online. And then he started to perform, and I got scared. Quickly. It was the line about "drinking the musky blood/drinking the bloody musk" that had me going. Mind warping contrast of pleasant-joe visual and run-screaming lyrics - if he'd looked edgier, it wouldn't have been nearly so disturbing. I included the second blurry photo here because I feel that it may just be a genuine image of the pointy eared demon inside this candy coated exterior.

Take a listen to "You don't want to know what I'm Into" ... (um, you got that right.)

Daniel Johnston: The man himself, decked out in a self designed t-shirt, track pants, and bright white kicks, walked on stage to huge cheers from the crowd. He is a large guy now, and has some serious shakes, wouldn't be surprised if both were a result of the meds he is on. He played guitar himself for the first song, then had a guitarist, and eventually a full band, backing him up. And it was delightful - the strength of his ability as a pop song writer shone through. And it is hard not to be moved by it all - not to be sentimental, but the challenges of his situation is so apparent, and the lyrics so personal, that you can't help but be affected. Or maybe you can. But I can't.

The audience: Hats off to you audience. I know how noisy Richards can be if people are chatting, and the audience was being so attentive and respectful. Thank you, thank you. That being said, man were there a lot of people who put a whole lot of effort into looking alt-cool-unkempt there. Maybe I did that at one point when I was that age too. No, wait a minute, I was alt-cool-KEMPT, a completely different thing...ok, that's a lie... and it's no less time consuming.

Anyway, that's it for now. This Friday brings Hardstock, a fundraiser for Scott Harding featuring my youth. Pretty much. Or at least the bands I was listening to/hanging around with. Should be interesting.

1 comment:

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Marc !)