Tuesday, March 30th, 2004

I Was Meant For The Stage

It’s interesting to me how touring bands from the US feel compelled to tell us how much they love playing in Canada. I’m not sure if they’re genuinely expressing affection for our home and native land or just trying to tweak our internationally renowned inferiority complex. Last night, some of The Decemberists were sporting Canada toques newly bought at a Niagara Falls gift shop or playing instruments with Canadian flag stickers affixed. Cute.

At some point, the UK’s Clearlake were taken off the bill, I’m not sure when, likely because they’re opening for Stereolab at the Phoenix on April 10. I was a little disappointed as they sounded interesting, but it did mean the show would be starting that much earlier meaning I’d be home that much earlier.

That left Tom Heinl as the sole opener, and with his charming and often hilarious ‘Stereoke’ act which featured him singing along to his home 4-track tapes with the vocal track removed. His stage setup consisted of a double cassette deck, home stereo receiver, rocking chair and old living room lamp, among other sundry objects, and he alternated singing songs about IHOP, trailer parks and his many wives with readings from his fifth-grade diary. Bizarre but very entertaining.

The Decemberists played a joyous, concise set to a very full house, favouring the more upbeat numbers from their two albums and closing with a full reading of their new single/EP “The Tain”, which clocks in at a solid 18-minutes with several movements combining folk, prog and seventies hard rock influences and based on an ancient Irish myth. Yeah. I always enjoy seeing complex and intricately arranged music reproduced live, and the Decemberists used a whole aresenal of instruments, including accordians, xylophones, melodicas, mandolins, and upright bass alongside the more conventional band instruments to successfully recreate their records while Colin Meloy tunefully bleated out the lyrical intricacies of the material. They rocked out a little harder than you might have expected from a band with such a resolutely geek image, particularly when Tom Heinl joined the band in the trombone-demolishing encore closer “I Was Meant For The Stage”. A very solid Toronto debut for one of the more ambitious and unique bands on the indie landscape right now. Pics from the show.

Those Lollapalooza rumours from last week? Billboard says they’re true. I will reserve judgement until a) I see the rest of the bill, b) I see if they’re coming north of the border, and c) I see how much tickets are. I’m really not one for big outdoor festival-type shows, but I would like to finally see The Flaming Lips… Also confirmed on the bill are Modest Mouse.

Hayden’s new record Elk Lake Serenade will be coming out May 11. Want to know the extent of my celebrity elbow-rubbing here in the T-dot? I was at a bar Saturday night and Hayden was there, and then I went to another bar and Moe Berg from The Pursuit Of Happiness was DJ-ing. This jet-set lifestyle, it’s so glamorous.

Pitchfork’s feature this week is a studio diary by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats from May of last year.

Tickets for The Cardigans show at Lee’s Palace May 8 go on sale April 8, 10:00 AM. Hopefully this won’t be Ticketmaster-only.

The Toronto subway system is 50 years old today. Yaaaay. To celebrate, here’s a story from the New York Times about that universal phenomenon of subway crushes (yeah, you gotta register but the NYT is worth it). Ain’t it cute? From The Modern Age.

np – The New Pornographers / Electric Version

By : Frank Yang at 9:38 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Gary Campbell says:

    Wha..? You went OUT? To a BAR? On a Saturday night? Do your parents know about this..?

  2. Frank says:

    Shh – don’t tell my mom, she… hey wait a sec. What are you doing talking to my mom?!?

  3. Ryan Waddell says:

    Just out of curiosity, where would they have Lollapalooza here, now that Molson Park doesn’t have concerts anymore?

  4. Steve says:

    You didn’t actually enjoy Tom Heinl. Admit it. No one did, they just tried really hard to. Typical Toronto crowd – if that guy had been standing on a street corner, doing the exact same act except wearing filthy clothes, you’d ignore him. He kind of redeemed himself by playing the trombone at the end, albeit poorly.

    Were you even there?

  5. Frank says:

    Um… I actually did enjoy Tom Heinl, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the crowd did as well. He was fun. Can’t comment on the ‘typical Toronto crowd’ though, I have no interest in the behaviour of the rest of the audience, they’re not my concern unless they’re bumping me or trying to steal my wallet.

    But you did catch me on one thing – I wasn’t actually there. I didn’t want to miss the end of the hockey game so I sent my robotic simulacrum in my place and watched the show over closed circuit television. And then on the way home, I had it knock off a liquor store.

  6. Carla says:

    I was going to say something in response to what Steve wrote, but the first paragraph of Frank’s last comment summed up exactly how I feel very nicely thankyouverymuch.

  7. alan says:

    I enjoyed Tom too, and so did my brother who came to the show with me. People seemed sort of wary when he started with the polka song,but quickly started crowding around as he got going and were laughing and obviously having fun. Typical Toronto Crowd.

    At one point I heard a person behind me say: "What a lame crowd!" Was that you Steve?

  8. mike says:

    in response to Ryan’s question, I’d hope they’d have Lolapalooza at downsview park…but that’s just my preference

    btw, frank, nice job with the blog…

  9. Frank says:

    I think Downsview Park is a little big – Morrissey may be akin to the Pope for some, but…

    I think Molson Amphitheatre would be the likely venue. That’s where they’ve moved all the other traditional Molson Park shows (Warped Tour, Edgefest).

  10. Steve says:

    Yeah, I used the word "lame" right before I told all the "squares" to "take a hike", Alan. The crowd wasn’t "lame" – it was desperately seeking its own approval, and the vibe smacked of effort, until the Decemberists came on and let everyone genuinely enjoy themselves.

    Whatever, I guess people liked the guy, that’s great, but his lyrics struck me as the opposite of clever (quirkiness does not entail cleverness) and his delivery was not especially unique. I saw Steve Malkmus do the same vocals-and-tape-deck schtick, and I think I was the only person there willing to admit that it sounded like shit. If fifty scenesters stand around nodding their heads in approval, what’s the fifty-first scenester going to do? Disagree? Not publicly.

  11. Frank says:

    …right. To reiterate – I could give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks about anything. Tom Heinl entertained me, which is more than a lot of opening acts I see can say. Did I think it was genius or overwhelmingly original? No. Would I buy his material? No. Did I laugh and enjoy the 45 minutes or so before the headliner came on? yes.

    Lighten up, and please don’t presume to tell me what I did and did not enjoy, ‘kay?