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Tuesday, April 20th, 2004

Welcome To My Wigwam

I’m very disappointed in you, Toronto. In a truly rare occurrance, the juxtoposition of touring calendars gave us the opportunity to see two top musical talents, Elf Power and Tobin Sprout, on the same night on the same bill, and you don’t show up. Shame. Granted, it was a Monday night, but surely a few hours of pure pop bliss is worth being a little sleepy-eyed at work this morning? I’d be surprised if there were more than 100 of us at the Horseshoe last night, but thankfully, what we lacked in size we made up for with enthusiasm.

I missed the first openers, Elf Power tourmates Zumm Zumm, but from seeing them running around the club after their set, I can imagine they played a pretty energetic and likely chaotic set. Call it a hunch. Elf Power took the stage next with a different lineup than when I saw them last, but they still sounded pretty much the same (that’s a good thing). As expected, the set drew heavily from their new record, Walking With The Beggar Boys, which I hadn’t heard yet – I only bought a copy last night at the show – but really, despite making a number of stylistic shifts over the course of their career, you can still tell an Elf Power tune when you hear it. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t touch on much material from When The Red King Comes or A Dream In Sound, but the set was altogether very enjoyable if a little short – they were technically opening, after all.

And it was only proper that they deferred the headlining slot to Tobin Sprout. After all, the man is a legend – at least in the eyes of those who regard him as legendary. His main claim to fame is as a member and songwriter of Guided By Voices during their prime Bee Thousand through Under The Bushes period, but he’s also been a fairly prolific solo artist and painter, releasing work and touring when he feels like it. Like last night, for example – the tour wasn’t really meant to promote anything. It was just him and the band out playing selections from his extensive catalog of material, and what an embaressment of riches that catalog is. While the GBV material got the best response, obviously, there were enough die-hards in attendance that even his more obscure solo or Airport 5 material elicited cheering from the audience. It was especially nice to see all of Elf Power in the audience, dancing and bopping like enormous fans. Tobin’s stage demeanor was laid back to the point of almost being non-existant, but the glory of his jangly pop anthems were enough to keep the crowd enraptured for the nearly two hours of his set. Musically, his songs are pretty simply constructed, but his melodies and vocals just put them in a different orbit. With all respect to Bob Pollard and his talents, GBV hasn’t been quite the same since Tobin left. Who knows how long it’ll be before he comes back to town – I’m glad I was in attendance and got photos of the event.

I’ve decided that the Decemberists/Long Winters show on the 6th of June isn’t going to happen for me – that’s the same day I’ll be once again taking part in the Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Ride For Heart and biking 50 km along the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway in the morning. Last year, I tried to go to see Brendan Benson the evening after the ride, and I was pretty much asleep through the whole thing. I’m just not as indestructible as I once was, I guess.

The littlest Ben of all, Ben Kweller, is on his way to the Horseshoe June 10 to support his new album, On My Way, which came out at the start of the month.

Because shopping for a little Zimmerman these days isn’t confusing enough – Those Bob Dylan remasters which flooded the used CD market last year, and then dried up as soon as I put them on my shopping list, will be re-released on June 1 as remasters but without the SACD version. What does this mean? Hopefully it means that they’ll be cheaper and clearly marked – I believe this means this will maks three editions of each Dylan album in-print and in-stores. Madness.

Ever wonder where bands get their names? This site has solicited the origin stories of many many band names and put them online for your perusal. No guarantees of accuracy, of course. From Over Anything.

np – Elf Power / Walking With The Beggar Boys

By : Frank Yang at 9:56 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. Matt says:

    I think Tobin Sprout’s Moonflower Plastic is amazing and probably better than any single GBV record.

  2. Wez says:

    I agree with Matt on that one. I too was disappointed in Vancouver indie fans, when they had to move the last GbV concert to a smaller venue (from The Commodore to The Drink).

  3. Frank says:

    Last time through, GBV played the Opera House in Toronto, which I think holds just under 1000. Not sure if it sold out or not. The time previous to that, they did a two-night stand at the Horseshoe, which is much smaller but I think I’d prefer the multiple nights at a smaller club thing.

  4. mike says:

    For a band like GBV, I prefer the larger venue…I mean the sightlines are already bad as it stands at the Horseshoe…but a packed Horseshoe bursting at the seams, that just plain sucks if you’re not one of the ‘lucky’ few to grab a spot near the front…yes I’m usually one of the ‘unlucky’ ones