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Archive for June, 2005

28 Jun 05

uncle chumptastic

that’s right, i’m officially an uncle. congrats to kristi and bill on the birth of baby chachi kyle. i’m sure more updates will be available once my mom and her digital camera strike.

27 Jun 05

final fantasy + torngat: has the promoter been reading my blog?

over the past year, i’ve seen a few bands (okay okay, 126, but who’s counting?). of those bands, two stood out as true pleasant surprises – final fantasy and torngat. i knew nothing about either of them going into their shows, but each blew me away. somehow, both ended up together on the same bill on saturday night at the music gallery.

torngat went on first, for their third ever toronto performance. in case you’ve forgotten, they’re a 3 piece with keyboards, percussion and french horn along with melodicas, pedals, xylophones…but no vocals. they strike me as pretty experimental (as their unusual choice of instruments illustrates), and their songs are complex rhythmically with lots of time changes and instrument switching. once again, i quite enjoyed their set – especially their percussionist. the novelty of the french horn had worn off somewhat this time around, but i still enjoyed watching him stretch its sounds with various pedals.

final fantasy came on soon thereafter, and gave a very nervous and self-effacing yet endearing set. he played a bunch of new songs (which he apologized for repeatedly) as well as a handful from needs a new home (a final fantasy set wouldn’t be complete without this is the dream of win and regine or the cn tower belongs to the dead). i quite liked his new songs, and the fact that they’re nerdish and tend to be about zelda and d&d made them even better. as an added bonus, 6 or 7 of the songs included accompaniment by a string quartet…but that didn’t stop owen from using his looping pedals for a few of them. i quite enjoyed watching the string quartet’s members watch owen when he was playing by himself – the look of amazement said it all. i guess there isn’t much call for singing and playing multiple violin parts at once in the normal duties of a quartet member.

in summary: torngat good. final fantasy good. write that down.

24 Jun 05

another celeb sighting, for real this time

i just saw k-os mere moments ago on queen west. and he didn’t want to fight me, in spite of the comment he left on this post. whew.

20 Jun 05

most appropriate sign of the week

settler #1: this town is fantastic! what should we call it?
settler #2: i’ve got it! plainville!

and people came from as far away as gores landing to settle in this ida on the move…

20 Jun 05

danny michel and the john mould band fainting goats

ever since i made my claim that i tend to enjoy full bands more than solo artists, i’ve been happily discovering exceptions to this rule. first there was sondre lerche who had a knack for holding the crowd in the palm of his hand. then there’s joel plaskett, although it’s a toss up whether i like him better solo or with the emergency backing him up. and who can forget final fantasy, who’s really just one guy, his violin and a bunch of pedals? and finally, there’s danny michel.

i always enjoy watching danny michel perform. his songs are well written and fun, sometimes to the point of being quirky, but his real strong point (as i’ve said before) is his stage banter. on friday night, after sitting through a somewhat tranquilizing set by dayna manning, danny took the stage and in no time was telling a story about a for sale sign he found for fainting goats. (“they can’t climb up on furniture because they’ll faint!”) he held the audience’s attention for the length of his nearly two hour set, and performed a number of solo songs on both acoustic and electric guitar (with his omnipresent pedals for looping and other cool effects), and was joined on stage a number of times by friends. the cello and upright electric bass were a nice touch for a few songs, and the drum machine was more than sufficient. a standout of the night was the stripped down version of perfect, which is a good song on the album, but an amazing song live. luke doucet also joined him on stage a few times to school him on his own guitar, and i found it pretty impressive that he could play a song that he didn’t know so competently.

the set was capped off by a surprise appearance by danny’s new friend andy kim (who touched my shoulder on his way to the stage – *gasp*), whom you may know by name if you’re over 40, and whose songs you know no matter how old you are. they played sugar sugar and rock me gently together, and i think it may have been the highlight of danny’s career, judging from his reaction.

my only complaint about the night: i was sitting at the table next to danny michel’s family and friends, and they set up a tripod for a microphone and camera directly behind my chair. no mobility or sneaking to the washroom for me during the 2 hour set…

17 Jun 05

at last, relief

it’s amazing how a heatwave has the tendency to completely diminish my blogposting output. for the last week and a half, toronto (and the rest of southern ontario) has been mired in a crazy heatwave that prevented me from leaving my computer on for more than a few minutes at a time for fear of setting our office on fire. things are back to normal now (if by normal you mean that i’m currently wearing a jacket in my office because it’s now freezing in here) so perhaps you can expect more posting goodness in the near future.

oh, and danny michel is tonight. that usually leads to fun, occasionally christopher walken-related stories.

07 Jun 05

spooooooon

spoon played the opera house this past sunday, combining one of my favouritest things (spoon) with two of my least favourite things (sunday night shows and the opera house). i’m not a big fan of sunday night shows (or weeknight shows in general, i suppose) now that i actually have to get up early to commute to work, but spoon was worth it i thought, especially given the 10:30 headlining set time.

we arrived right at 10:30, just as the opener, the beast and dragon, adored was in full swing. the first four songs melded together seemlessly (and included my favourite, turn my camera on) and were an accurate representation of what was to come. the set was solid with few breaks between songs for tuning and banter – spoon delivered the music. i think chromewaves had it right though – they got even better as the set progressed. the energy level definitely did pick up as they started to mix in more of their older material (which was well represented throughout the evening), and the crowd was very appreciative no matter what spoon threw at them. robin made a good point: that show was one time we wouldn’t have minded hearing a new-song heavy set, but with spoon, i would’ve been happy no matter what they’d played.

oh, and i think i found the secret to enjoying the opera house slightly more: we stood at the very back beside the bar, where we could actually SEE, and the sound was muffled enough that we didn’t need our earplugs, but still sounded good.

06 Jun 05

ladies and gentlemen good, four band bills bad

attention rock crew chris: there is an evil worse than three band bills. i discovered this past saturday night when i attended the ladies and gentlemen cd release party at the horseshoe – a four band bill. please, all promoters, take note – i like music more than the average person, but sitting through four bands of varying qualities is a lot to ask of a music fan, especially one with a full time job.

we arrived early to catch wayne petti’s solo set, and were among the very few to do so. there were probably 20 people in attendance, half of whom were friends of wayne’s, but it was still a fun set. with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica, he played a bunch of cuff the duke songs, as well as covering alberta bound by gordon lightfoot, and i’m on fire by the boss (featuring audience participation). it was short, low key and fun. i’m glad we showed up early for him.

second on the bill (and added late) were the thunderbirds are now! i kinda like each of their albums for different reasons so i was interested in seeing their live show, and they were a bit of a spectacle to be sure. the keyboardist, in particularly, was awesome to watch – he’s essentially a bundle of energy who dances like a robot, assumes crazy rockstar poses, throws tamborines around the stage, leaps into the crowd and somersaults back onto the stage. i had a difficult time discerning one song from another, but i was highly entertained.

contrast that with the third band, nassau. i’d seen them before and thought they were ok, but i just wanted them off the stage on friday night. they were one 45 minute long droney song that literally put anne to sleep. the lead singer’s voice is vaguely reminiscent of that of luke of mystery machine (remember them?) but without the dynamics, and their stage presence was among the worst i’ve ever seen. big yawn.

finally, the ladies and gentlemen went on at 12:30. they were just as enjoyable as last time i saw them, complete with dressing all in white, the guy whose job it is to mainly clap his hands, and catchy as hell songs. they’re definitely more comfortable playing live now though (less terror in the eyes of the keyboardists) which made for a more fun performance. i picked up their cd and so far it’s got my approval.

in summary, down with four band bills, even on a weekend!

02 Jun 05

longest commute ever

it took a month, but i finally have a blogworthy toronto transit story. and it’s a doozy.

i left work yesterday around 4:45ish, and got to the bus stop at about 4:50. the bus to downsview usually arrives every 5-10 minutes during rush hour, but yesterday it took 20. this meant that, by the time a bus arrived, there were enough people lined up for 3 buses, and we were all baking in the sun. when i finally got on the bus, i was seated on the sunny side of the bus (thus making me even warmer) alongside a woman with a small dog on her lap. the last thing i wanted at that point was a dog nosing and licking me while i tried to read the paper.

i arrived at downsview without further incident (albeit somewhat slower than normal due to traffic), and hopped on a subway that was waiting for me. we made good time until about glencairn or so, when we were informed that there had been a security issue at yorkdale, causing subway traffic to be rerouted…thus resulting in intermittent delays. that slowed us down substantially. and then there was another announcement of an issue further down the line (i forget where exactly, but it was also on the yonge/university line). at this point i stopped reading the paper and started working on my first sudoku puzzle in the star. i’m sure there’s a strategy to such puzzles to make them easier, but i certainly don’t know what it is. that puzzle almost made me miss my stop ’cause i was so engrossed in it, and when i heard “st patrick” i had to grab all my stuff and jump out the door in a big hurry.

at that point i wandered up to the eaton centre and bought (gasp) my first cell phone. this is the point of the blog post where people know me stop reading in disbelief. and, if you DO know me, be sure to ask me for my number. it’s too good.

back to the story: after hanging out at the rogers store for 30-40 minutes, it was time to head home. i caught a streetcar at queen and yonge, and everything seemed to be going well until the girl sitting in front of me stood up to leave at spadina, and the guy sitting beside her wouldn’t let her out. i had my headphones on at this point so i didn’t know what was going on. i heard her saying “i’d like to get off…” and he didn’t reply. another guy stood up as i moved to do so and asked him to move. he simply replied mlaaaghhhfffff. not a good sign. the driver got involved and threatened to call the cops, which he did. i then helped the girl escape over her seat, but we still sat there for 5 minutes waiting for the cops. looking at him from behind, he didn’t look entirely crazy – longish hair, with a niceish dress shirt and sunglasses. oh, and a bunch of ketchup on the side of his nose. when the driver realized the girl had escaped, he proceeded on until bathurst, where we waited for another 5 minutes to meet up with a TTC boss and some cops. they managed to drag him off the streetcar amidst several more mllllarrrrrrrrs and gluuuuuuuuuffffffs. when i saw the guy standing outside, i realize that he looked crazier than i thought: the dress shirt tucked into black track pants whose pockets were full of random shit was a bit of a giveaway. anyway, from there i made it home without further incident. thank god.

departure time: 4:45 pm
arrival time: 8 pm

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

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