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Archive for October, 2005

26 Oct 05

photo of the day, without the photo

i wasn’t quick enough with my camera phone today, so i’m going to have to have to describe my favourite random/crazy of the week. picture this:

a guy maybe in his early 40s. long 80s metal hair. leather jacket, on which the words “harmony master” have been written on the back in liquid paper. while waiting for the lights to change at queen and ossington, he’s practising his guitar fingering. oh, and he has no guitar. i kept thinking wayne’s world, except far far sadder.

a photo opportunity that slipped through my fingers.

18 Oct 05

death cab for boring

let me preface this post by noting that i really don’t want to be part of the interweb backlash machine. i WANT the bands i like to get successful make money to buy food and survive so they can make more music, etc. but sometimes, things just don’t work out.

we saw death cab for cutie for the first time on saturday night at the dreaded koolhaus (a venue that is as repulsive as its name) and we were predictably surrounded by people for whom going to see a band is an event (and who likely refer to such events as “concerts” as opposed to “shows”). more on this later.

the openers were called youth group, essentially an australian version of death cab. they specialized in mid-tempo emoish music that was pretty appropriate for the crowd. not bad, just not memorable. i don’t think i need to say anything more about them.

death cab took the stage at 10:30 sharp (the koolhaus doesn’t screw around with scheduling) and played for about an hour and a half. the true nature of the sell-out crowd became painfully clear when the band pulled out their first OC song and the crowd went nuts. never before have i seen so many simultaneous digital cameras raised in the air, and i haven’t heard singing along like that since i saw coldplay a couple years ago. predictably, i was excited every time they played something from we have the facts and we’re voting yes or something about airplanes, but these were few and far between. obviously, plans was the album du jour, although tracks from transatlanticism were featured prominently as well.

having said all that, i was pretty bored by the show. i could write a whole blog post (and likely will someday) about the challenge bands face in engaging the crowd as they play larger venues and get more and more detached from the crowd itself. some bands can pull it off (stars, for example, are amazing to watch whether they are on the grad club’s makeshift stage or an enormous festival stage, and this is largely attributable to torq’s ability to engage the crowd), but some, like death cab, need work. the stage banter was essentially limited to ben gibbard saying “thanks a lot you guys!” after every single song, and the mid-tempo nature of 90% of the songs they played really worked against them in holding my interest. i guess what i think doesn’t really matter though, since it looked like they were well on their way to selling hundreds of t-shirts at the merch stand.

there were two things that really grabbed my attention though:
1. the insanely bright lights that were aimed directly in my eyes from the stage during a few songs. i haven’t had to look away from the band during a show for fear of going blind since i saw sam roberts at grant hall a few years ago. good planning.
2. ben gibbard’s bizarre obession with his guitar cable. once i noticed his constant tossing of the cable, i couldn’t stop watching. at first i thought it was in his way and he was trying not to trip, but it became clear that it was just a thing he does.

okay, and while i’m being nitpicky, that last song they played before the encore was nothing but an exercise in self-indulgiance. was bringing a second drum kit out onto the stage so ben could show off the fact that he knows how to play the drums really necessary? yeah, no. on the bright side, at least they played transatlanticism during the encore.

i can’t wait to see bell orchestre at the music gallery in a couple weeks…

14 Oct 05

deadly snakes, hidden cameras, new pornographers AND decemberists!

after quite an extensive show-going drought (wow, practically a month – that’s an eternity for me), i’ve made up for it in a big way over the past week.

it all started last saturday with the rise show at the silver dollar room – a fundraiser for new orleans musicians featuring the deadly snakes, hidden cameras and the sadies. i wasn’t keen when i heard the show was at the silver dollar room – that means a very late night and poor beer selection. but we persevered!

the deadly snakes were fantastic, playing a good mix of old and new and totally making up for the fact that we missed them twice over the past few months. gore veil is now also officially my favourite song of the moment (a fraction ahead of metric’s monster hospital). it was also nice to see andre ethier in his other band finally, after seeing him with christopher sandes a few times over the last year.

the hidden cameras unfortunately didn’t wow me…again. like i said previously, i was hoping for some kind of extravagant over the top performance, but i instead got a technically solid performance that really didn’t hold my interest. it didn’t help that they played 90% new songs, but whatever the reason, it just didn’t really do it for me. we left after they wrapped up their set – we just couldn’t sit around for a projected 1 am set time by the sadies.

sunday night was the new pornographers show at the phoenix. because of thanksgivingy commitments, we unfortunately missed the entire immaculate machine set and only caught the last couple songs by destroyer. the pornographers themselves played an enjoyable set that contained tracks from each of their releases. i enjoyed them better when i saw them back in 2001 or so at lee’s, but they were still solid (although their banter, especially neko’s, was a bit tranquilizing, especially given the tryptophan in my system). they even played a couple of encores, and the crowd left happy. and hey, i can never get enough of watching kurt dahle drum. aside from that guy from the high water marks/oranger, he’s the most entertaining drummer i’ve ever seen. and he proved he’s talented enough to smoke, drum and sing all at the same time. unfortunately, i wasn’t able to catch the north of america show at wavelength later that night. but hell, i’ve only been waiting to see those guys live since i got my first motes cassette mailed to me, courtesy of ant records, in about 1993. what’s another few years?

finally, last night was the decemberists show, again at the phoenix. afterwards, robin described it as one of the weirdest shows (although not in a bad way, i don’t think) he’d ever seen, and i suppose i might’ve felt the same way had i not seen them a few months ago. they played most of my favourites (sans the sporting life, sadly) and played more older songs than the last time. the weirdness: the crowd was greated by peter and the wolf blaring through the PA before the decemberists went on; the standard theatrics of the mariners revenge song (“scream like you’re being eaten by a whale!”, this time accompanied by a large whale-mouth-like prop); convincing the crowd to sit on the floor during the chimney sweep; petra high fiving the entire front row every time she made a bad joke (this happened twice); and an extended jam in the middle of chimney sweep in which the entire band rotated through each other’s instruments, proving that they cannot, in fact, play each other’s instruments. as is traditional, they also busted out a new cover song (previous examples include bjork, kate bush, moz, etc.) – mr. blue sky by ELO – during their encore. it was a fun time, although i’m paying for it a bit today – it’s the first time i think i’ve been to a show on a week night since i moved to toronto, if you can imagine.

so there you have it. my first “review” post in over a month. i wonder if i’ve lost my edge? probably.

03 Oct 05


q: how cute is baby chachi?
a: too cute:

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

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