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26 Feb 05

the wooden stars – another trip back to the 90s

my mid-nineties revival continued last night with a trip to the grad club to check out the wooden stars. i’d seen them live once before, back in 1997ish opening for the inbreds at alfie’s (yes, they used to have lots of good bands at alfie’s when the QEA didn’t suck so bad), and i only remember the following from that show: they had windchimes on their drum kit, and i was so anxious to get to the inbreds’ set that i wasn’t paying them any attention. sad really. i was clearly too impatient in undergrad, and this trait prevented me from enjoying zumpano the couple times i got to see them live. stupid.

anyway, back to last night. the show opened with a short set by snailhouse, who is actually just the solo project of one of the wooden stars’ guitarists. i used to hear the wooden stars mentioned along side snailhouse all the time (with reference to sappy records, touring together, etc.), so this just furthered my nostalgia. he introduced himself with “we’re a band called snailhouse”, which i found pretty funny, and he spent the set standing at the microphone at the back of the stage. it didn’t become clear until the wooden stars took the stage as to why – because that’s where he set up his pedals for the wooden stars’ set. anyway, his solo material pretty much acted as a lullaby for me. not my favouritest thing.

after a long delay, the wooden stars finally took the stage and promptly put aside their set list, which i think was a good thing – they played the songs they felt like at that moment, and things flowed pretty well. while listening to them, i couldn’t help but think about the rheostatics. i think it was that they seem to, at times, sacrifice catchiness for very complex song structures, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. having said that though, i really enjoyed many of their songs – orphans (“a song about babies”), microphone, gravenhurst militia, and a cover of pavement’s cut your hair (a band they “influenced heavily) were standouts. oh, and one weird note: at one point, they called out to the crowd for someone named mathieu, and asked if he wanted to sing a song. he took the stage at lead vocals for a couple songs (looking extremely uncomfortable while doing so) and played bass for another (while the main bassist stood in the crowd). as near as i can figure, he used to be their fulltime bassist, but perhaps doesn’t play with them very much anymore (although he WAS introduced by telling the crowd that he’s also a part of the group). (that paragraph needed more parentheses).

i think they were expecting to be playing to an empty house because of reading week and kid koala playing up the street, and mitch and i figured we’d be the only ones there. we were all surprised that there were, in fact, several dozen people in attendance, many of whom were actually there to listen to the band. one guy (who spent the entire set holding onto his girlfriend like grim death) even made a request, only to be told that they hadn’t played that song in about six years.

summary: a pretty solid way to spend $6.

edit: be sure to check out optimuscrime’s take on the show.

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Pronunciation: 'ch&mp
Function: noun
Etymology: perhaps blend of chunk and lump
Date: 1883

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