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Archive for June, 2004

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

What Would We Be Without Wishful Thinking, Take 2

Wilco @ The Mod Club, Toronto – August 3.

Great band, little (relatively speaking) club. Boo-ya.

Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Cinder And Smoke

I don’t think Sam Beam was expecting the reception he got for Iron & Wine’s Toronto debut. Lord knows I wasn’t. The Horseshoe was packed to the gills with people, moreso than I can recall in recent memory. We’re talking loads of people. And they seemed to be more than just folks curious about a hyped new band (which Iron & Wine aren’t, really) – many of these punters were enthusiastic fans, if the screaming and heavy applause was any indication. Most times the applause was exponentially louder than the band itself. I think Beam was simulatenously flattered and flustered, grinning and occasionally laughing mid-song when one of the fans whooped it up. It was a curious contrast – the whispery, solemn and oh-so-pretty Southern gothic folk songs of the band versus the stadium rock idol-worthy applause (Beam commented on this, musing that this is how Van Halen must feel and asking if anyone brought a beach ball). It didn’t throw the band off their game though, as they played a solid hour of material to an almost-silent club (aforementioned whooping aside) – which was good because the music was so quiet it would have been easy to lose. While Iron & Wine as an entity is pretty much just Sam Beam, he’s done a fine job of putting together a band that’s not only as hirsute as he, but capable of tastefully embellishing his material, adding just the right touch of slide guitar, percussion, bass and drums precisely where needed. Very nice.

Openers for the evening was Iron & Wine guitarist Patrick McKinney performing under the name Langtry. He did a nice set of acoustic guitar instrumentals that managed to evoke a nice narrative feel, helped along by the fact that he preceded a few of the songs by explaining the story they were meant to tell. A very nice display of acoustic guitar acumen and an excellent warm-up for the headliners.

Not too many photos from last night. The ones I got turned out pretty well – there’s a few where I managed to ride someone else’s flash to cool effect – but I didn’t shoot too many since the band isn’t the most dynamic outfit on the planet. Within a few songs I figured they were doing pretty much all that they were going to be doing and that I had gotten every type of shot I was going to get. Which is fine, cause it let me just enjoy the music.

Another Lollapalooza survivor coming to town – Modest Mouse are at the Kool Haus August 4, tickets $18.50 advance, on sale July 8 at the usual outlets. Montreal’s Wolf Parade support. That same night, Philly’s Marah will be throwing it down at the Horseshoe. Any Modest Mouse/Marah fans in town torn by this dilemma? No? Didn’t think so.

Exclaim! offers up a capsule history of The Cure.

Funeral, The Arcade Fire’s debut release for Merge, comes out September 14. Said The Gramophone has an ebullient review of their hometown show from a couple nights ago and some related mp3s.

That’s it for today. Busy day at work, gotta get to it.

np – Television / Adventure

Tuesday, June 29th, 2004

Electioneering

You can’t imagine the sigh of relief I breathed last night when the CBC declared the Liberals winning a minority government in this year’s Federal election. Although my local candidate lost, this is precisely the scenario I was hoping for, as the Liberals will have to work with the NDP to get anything done and the Conservative party will have to sit in opposition. It was just a couple weeks ago that Conservative leader Stephen Harper was floating the idea of a majority government for themselves, and had the polling numbers to back it up. The notion of a Conservative government was quite a scary one and I’m truly thankful for the future of our nation that it won’t come to pass, at least not this year. I guess folks actually thought about it in the voting booths and decided to not vote against their ideology just to send a message. So now we go from being on the cusp of electing one of the most socially regressive governments in recent history to potentially one of the most progressive – and just in time for Canada Day. Ain’t politics funny?

And yeah, kind of a drab photo to accompany today’s post, but it was either that or a pic of Paul Martin and no one needs to see that. Just cause I’m glad he won doesn’t mean I think he’s pretty.

Information Leafblower has a nice interview with Greg Zinman of current Chromewaves darlings Sea Ray. Choice quote on bloggers and how they’ve helped the Ray’s career: “Well, you guys are actually a lot like musicians — totally self-absorbed navel-gazers who eagerly devour their own press. Really, though, the bloggers have been very, very kind to us, and it seems to be helping so far.” Whoo!

Free Magnetic Fields track! Amazon will let you download their version of “If I Was A Rich Man” from the Fiddler On The Roof tribute album, free of charge – all you have to do is log in. That’s it.

Salon presents a history of Wilco in the context of a review of Learning How To Die. You need to watch a commercial to get a day pass but Salon is always worth it. From Largehearted Boy. And for the locals, I’m hearing very quiet rumblings about a Toronto date sooner rather than later. I will let you know more when I know more.

Alright – got my Lollapalooza ticket refund and I didn’t have to do anything, applied right back to my Visa card. Every penny. Ticketmaster actually does something right!

Professional contrarian Christopher Hitchens sets his sights on Fahrenheit 9/11. An interesting read. I’m beginning to think I don’t even want to see this film. I already know everything that it wants to say, and it’s just going to manipulate me into getting angry and I don’t need that. Okay, I probably will see it, but I’m certainly not in any rush. Link from Five Seventeen. On the same topic, Salon has both pro-F911 and anti-F911 pieces for your inspection.

np – Velvet Crush / Stereo Blues

Monday, June 28th, 2004

Hall Of Fame

15 people. Fifteen. One-five.

Subtract that from 4,000,000 or so people and that’s how many people in the city missed a great Toronto debut for Sea Ray show at the Rivoli last night. Granted, there were a few factors working against the band like zero promotion, a Sunday night, no local openers (or any opener), Pride festivities throughout the city and the fact that no one knew who the hell they were (despite my best efforts), but it was still a disappointing turnout. For a while, I was counting heads and just hoping they’d break double digits. Although I never drink at shows, I bought a beer because I felt bad for the bartender. The poor turnout didn’t elicit a poor show from the band, however – they still played all-out to impress everyone who did show. They played most of their terrific sophomore album Stars At Noon as well as a new song over the course of a too-short 40-minute set. Like the record, the show was lush, spacey and powerful throughout, we even got to see the very rare occurrance of the bassist breaking a string – the A-string no less. Thankfully the sound was quite good as the band’s complex instrumentation and arrangements could easily turn into mud if not handled properly. I had wanted to see how a professional touring band incorporated the cello into their live sound as we’ve had a hell of time coming up with a workable system – seems they came up with the same solution as us. Run it into a big honking bass amp and mic the thing.

I’m also glad the band brought out the full light show even for such a small crowd. By light show I don’t mean strobes and flash pots, but a projector hooked up to a laptop that created an otherworldly ambiance onstage. It was really quite impressive and not at all distracting. I can see why Jasper at jenyk.com calls Sea Ray one of his favourite bands to shoot – I just kept clicking away with my camera, letting the ever-changing lighting create new shots for me. I’m really happy with how rich and colourful my pictures turned out. If there was a positive side to the low attendance, it was that I had free run in front of the stage to get whatever shots I wanted. I talked to lead singer Jordan after the show and he promised not to hold the low attendance against our fair city, acknowleding that “no one’s ever heard of us”. So maybe the next time they come back we can shoot to double the attendance and go for a whopping thirty people.

It seems silly to expend much energy discussing a film as lightweight as Dodgeball, so I won’t. Sufficed to say that it’s stupid and it knows it, it’s funny, Ben Stiller is hilariously over-the-top, Christine Taylor is hot and Vince Vaughan is very poorly cast as a straight man who doesn’t look like he’s in on the joke. He sleepwalks through the whole thing and barely looks interested. Granted, that’s supposed to be part of his character, but still. He’s much better suited to be the loudmouth prick character than the nice-guy. And that’s all.

No Matter What You Heard wants to point out that BOTH halves of the entity formerly known as Uncle Tupelo put out new albums last week, and that Jay Farrar still deserves some attention as well.

Sonic Youth waste no time making up the dates for the Lollapalooza cancellations and will be at the Kool Haus August 5, the same day they were originally going to be at the Molson Amphitheatre.

Pitchfork has gotten a facelift – all the snarkiness, but easier to read!

American Analog Set has a few live recordings available for download on their website.

Was browsing my list of past concerts attended and I noticed that the last show I went to that wasn’t in Toronto – and I’m talking Toronto proper, the 416, was in 1998. Man I gotta get out more.

Today is Election Day in which we determine who will lead our country over the next four years (or four months, if it’s a fragile minority government with no support). I want to encourage everyone in Canada who is of age to go out and vote. Unless you’re going to vote Conservative in which case, STAY HOME. Kidding. But not.

np – The American Analog Set / Know By Heart

Sunday, June 27th, 2004

Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home

It was interesting being back in Waterloo yesterday and wandering around my old hometown and stomping grounds, feeling old and nostalgic. The university looked almost exactly as I remembered it, but with enough differences – mostly in the the form of new buildings – to remind me that this was not the same campus I spent five years slacking off on. At one point, I drove back to the first-year residence which still looked exactly the same as it did when I first arrived ten years ago, less two months. That’s a decade, folks. Misty-eyed reminiscences were interrupted when I spotted a groundhog wandering across the quad and I chased him around for a bit. Good times. Being back on campus on such a beautiful day did stir up some wistful longing for the simpler, younger days of collegiate life, but then I remembered how much it sucked to be poor all the time so that took care of that. I do miss the camaraderie, though. I got to catch up on that at the barbeque with my friends, though as expected it was heavily dominated by baby talk – that is, talk of their babies, not drooling babbling incoherence (Though the kids had that department covered pretty well). Cute kids. I have no idea how to deal with small children. Or larger children, for that matter. It was interesting seeing my friend Chris’ nice big house, all grown-up decorated and furnished. We were roommates for a few years in school, and he’s certainly come a long way. Me, I live in a basement.

The Toronto Star’s Ben Rayner ruminates on what seems to have become the concensus reasoning as to Lollapalooza’s failure. – Old people don’t want to go to festivals.

Sea Ray tonight! The Rivoli! $8! Doors at 9! Opener to be announced! $10! No opener! Show at 10! Go go go go go! I promise this will be the last bit of lobbying I do for this show. Because, after all, it’s tonight, and urging people to attend after the fact is just silly.

I have a $5 movie pass that expires on the 30th. I think I will go see Dodgeball this afternoon.

Random fact for the day – Trying to assemble Ikea shelves without the instructions is harder than you’d think. It’s like trying to get into the minds of crazy Swedish engineers. And you will always have screws and bolts left over. Always.

np – Rachel Goswell / Waves Are Universal