chumptastic dot org

01 Feb 08

have you seen the ghost of wintersleep?

as a music snob/elitist/addict, it’s strange for me to be at a live show and not know the music as well as everyone around me. it’s like the first time i saw cake live, back in 2001 at massey hall. i was familiar with their latest album, but i was late to the cake game and everyone around me was singing along to a lot of songs i’d never heard before. the same sort of thing kind of happened to me last night at the wintersleep show at the phoenix. i’d seen wintersleep once before, at the wolfe island music fest a couple years ago, and was decidedly non-plussed – i guess i was always curious about how a band that clearly would’ve fit in with the grunge bands of the mid-90s seemed to be building such a following. anyway, their new album was good enough for me to give them another chance, but my lack of familiarity with their back catalogue left me in the dark for a good part of the show.

the show itself started out exceptionally strong – the first half was surprisingly fantastic. in fact, the first half of their set inspired me to write this blog entry, something i haven’t done after a show in over a year. i was prepared to rave about how amazing they were live, and how my mind has been changed after the last couple years of criticism. and then the second half came, and it was like another band took over – clearly they frontloaded their set list with new (read: “good”) songs, and once they had played such gems as weighty ghost, dead letter & the infinite yes and archaeologists, there was nowhere to go but down. the clear highlight of the second half, it must be said, was watching their frenetic drummer, especially during the set’s closing 20 minute jam (during which he was framed by spotlights while the remaining band members melted into the background). is it even possible to drum melodically? ’cause he sure came close to it during that jam. he’s now officially on my list of most amazing drummers to watch live, along with the drummer whose name i don’t even know from the high water marks and oranger, kurt dahle from new pornographers and limblifter, doug constantine, and lonnie james from the super friendz. without him, i probably would’ve left early.

i should also mention that the russian futurists opened, and were pretty much exactly how i remembered them from when i saw them in kingston – decidedly unengaging, but with good songs that seem to translate better on their recordings. they played their 3 best songs in a row early in the set, and again, like wintersleep, really had nowhere to go but down. there isn’t really too much you can do to liven up a show like that, when everyone’s just playing keyboards. there were a couple songs when one of the keyboardists picked up a guitar, but i have no proof that he was actually playing it. in summary, even the good songs weren’t enough to totally win me over.

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

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