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Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Not Nice

Well that was just a shame, pure and simple. Brooklyn’s Chris Garneau made his Canadian debut at Sneaky Dee’s on Wednesday night, the first date of a mini Canadian tour, and… well, I guess in every musician’s career there’s going to be some shows that are just bound to be disasters. This was one of them.

For starters, Garneau was given the middle slot between a couple of bands so anonymous that I couldn’t even find a MySpace for them. The lead-in were just wrapping up their set of remarkably unremarkable rock when I arrived and when they were done, they took their sweet time clearing off stage, making sure to converse loudly with all their friends who drove in from the suburbs for the occasion. These conversations continued (loudly) as Garneau and his bandmates set up onstage and vainly tried to soundcheck and when they began their set.

If you haven’t heard Garneau’s material, he trades in very quiet, very delicate piano pieces accompanied by his unearthly soft and fragile voice. Beautiful stuff, but also the sort of stuff that’s easily drowned out by loud talkers or the howling, persistent feedback that was coming from both the stage monitors and the house PA. Now the sound at Sneaky Dee’s is usually pretty good and I know they’ve dealt with trickier setups than vocals, electric piano, cello and drums but for whatever reason they were incapable of getting anything resembling a decent mix.

Obviously frustrated, Garneau tried to play through it by discarding the quieter bits of his set (which is to say most of it) and what he did perform from his album Music For Tourists was so lovely but he gave up after barely half an hour, looking like he was either going to apologize to everyone or curse us all out. Graciously, he opted for the former. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt such sympathy for a performer… hopefully he won’t hold it against us and returns to play for a quieter, more respectful audience. But if you’re going to see him on any of the other tour dates, please – keep it down.

Photos: Chris Garneau @ Sneaky Dee’s – June 20, 2007
MP3: Chris Garneau – “Not Nice”
Video: Chris Garneau – “Relief” (YouTube)
MySpace: Chris Garneau

The Phoenix tries to figure out at exactly what point M Ward became such a big deal. His first record, Duet For Guitars #2, is being reissued by Merge on July 10.

Also out that day from Merge – Spoon’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. I’m comfortable saying this is one of their best records yet, and they put out some consistently good records. Stream it below and see them at the Phoenix on October 15.

Stream: Spoon / Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga

The Daytrotter machine doesn’t stop – up this week are sessions with The Long Winters (interview/session) and Sparrow House, the solo project of Voxtrot keyboardist Jared Van Fleet (interview/session). If you like what you hear of Sparrow House, he’s got and EP out (Falls), another on the way (Television Snow) and some tracks from the first one available to download:

MP3: Sparrow House – “When I Am Gone”
MP3: Sparrow House – “You Sang Along”

Filter makes available their feature story on Feist from their latest issue.

PennLive.com talks to Richard Thompson.

Nels Cline discusses his many hats with The Boston Globe.

Some interviews with The National courtesy of The Georgia Straight, The Boston Herald, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe and Filter. The band’s DC show from Wednesday night, which The Washington Post calls “a snoring success”, is available to stream at NPR along with an interview. Looks like they picked the wrong show to broadcast? Hey Leafblower – maybe The National DO hate DC after all? Happy birthday, btw.

Some pretty big concert announcements coming down the pipe this week. Instead of running through them chronologically, I’ll go by order of excitement.

First – Okkervil River at Lee’s Palace on September 21. Tickets $13.50, on sale next Wednesday. This is in support of their new album The Stage Names, out August 21. The Catbirdseat says that the album will be available in a deluxe edition limited to 5000 copies that will come with a second disc of Will Sheff’s solo demos of each track on the album. Obviously I want this, but saw no option for this edition when I pre-ordered. This is mildly concerning to me. I should probably also mention I AM INCREDIBLY EXCITED FOR THIS SHOW. In case you couldn’t tell. I’m just trying to be all cool about it and stuff.

As they did last year, Beirut will be in town on October 2, right before Pop Montreal. Unlike last year, however, they’re going in the other direction (west) and not playing the festival. Also unlike last year, they’re not going to be at the Horseshoe – this show is at the far larger Danforth Music Hall. Pitchfork has full details about the tour and the new record, still untitled, and out October 9. I really enjoyed seeing the band at SxSW in March but would be very surprised if I managed to squeeze this one in before heading to Montreal. I’ve done the show-the-night-before-a-trip thing, it’s kind of brutal.

Band Of Horses will be at Lee’s Palace on August 11. Sadly, that day is already earmarked for the Wolfe Island Musicfest up in Kingston. Wolves > Horses.

And a note that the Bill Callahan show at the Music Gallery on September 11 is actually the first of two nights – he’s also there on the 12th, both shows with a full band. Tickets $20.50, on sale next Wednesday.

FHM Australia has declared me the 89th greatest website, nine spots greater than Rotten Tomatoes. FHM WTF?

By : Frank Yang at 8:26 am
Category: Uncategorized
RSS Feed for this postNo Responses.
  1. Seth says:

    Hey Frank, any word on when Bill Callahan tickets go on sale?

  2. Frank says:

    forgot to include that – post now amended. $20.50, on sale next Wednesday (27th).

  3. danieljosef says:

    Wow! I’m really excited to finally see Okkervil River! The fall is already shaping up to be a great concert season.

  4. alpha says:

    here’s the deluxe edition: http://search.insound.com/s

  5. Frank says:

    thanks – I’m going to email insound and see if I can change my pre-order. They’re the same price, after all.

  6. dan says:

    Its so weird that Beirut is playing Danforth (1000 person capacity) here and la sala rossa (250 people capacity) in montreal.

    nonetheless i’ll probably go to the show. Also the band of horses one as they kicked ass last year at lee’s.
    Hopefully bootlegs of new tracks/a leak of the album will come out soon.

  7. Kyle says:

    Hey Frank – Don’t get me wrong – I love your site and I visit almost daily, but how do you feel about FHM’s description of your blog? "Very funny?" I always thought you were playing it pretty straight. Maybe the Aussies are mistaking that straight forward tone for Canadian dry humor?

    NEVERTHELESS! Amazing blog. You do great stuff here.

    BTW – I second your love for the Lucky Soul album – incredible.

  8. Frank says:

    I like to think that they, as a fellow former dominion of the British Empire, have an appreciation for dry wit. And I’m not going to answer a direct "do you think you’re funny?" question.

    I’m dry. Like ice.

  9. Kyle says:

    Well Played.

  10. Chuck says:

    Band of Horses?!?
    Oh man….I’m moving to Toronto (from St. John’s) on July 6th, so this is exciting.
    Hold Steady and Band of Horses in one week……again, awesome.