Friday, June 22nd, 2007
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.
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:
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.
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.