Monday, February 4th, 2008
I don’t understand what there is to celebrate about Winter. It’s a cold, dreary season that seems to last far longer than the time allotted to it by the calendar and the only sensible way to spend it is indoors, with double-paned windows and central heat. So, of course, the city decides that it’s the perfect time to throw an outdoor festival and to make sure that it can’t simply be ignored (from indoors), they get The Weakerthans to play a free show. Outside. Of course.
Taking place at at Nathan Phillips Square, aka City Hall (of Toronto or Raccoon City, whichever), they did this last year as well. That show starred Sloan and was an excruciatingly cold night. This year’s forecast was considerably warmer but I made the mistake of interpreting that as warm, which it most certainly was not. Which is why I was wearing neither my boots nor my warm socks on Saturday night. Yeah. I is smart. Anyway, though I wasn’t as bowled over by Reunion Tour as many were (something about it seemed just a little too precious, too consciously maple leaf pin Canadian), I’m still a huge fan of the band and was sad to have missed both their shows back in November (on account of exhaustion) so I was pleased to get a chance to make that up, even at the risk of losing a toe or two to frostbite (okay, I exaggerate but I really couldn’t feel my feet).
Though Winnipegers theoretically have a greater tolerance for cold than your typical Torontonian – not for nothing is it nicknamed “Winter-peg” – John K Samson seemed a bit alarmed that the onstage heaters were cutting out almost as soon as the show began and attempts by the crew to get them working was a running theme through the night. Regardless, the Weakerthans soldiered on. Bassist Greg Smith and guitarist Stephen Carroll kept their circulation going with the rock moves – guitar necks aloft! – Samson was his typically reserved self, staying close to the mic and singing his songs of curlers, cats and Antarctic explorers. The set started off with selections from the more recent records but began wandering further back into their repertoire as the show went on and over the course of an hour and change, via their seamless blend of pop, rock, punk and folk, made yet another compelling argument for declaring them one of the best bands the country has to offer, a fact that the fairly massive crowd gathered in the shadows of City Hall would certainly testify to and probably with less whining about the weather than I’ve done.
Photos: The Weakerthans @ Nathan Phillips Square – February 2, 2008
MP3: The Weakerthans – “Sun In An Empty Room”
MP3: The Weakerthans – “Night Windows”
MP3: The Weakerthans – “Plea From A Cat Named Virtue”
MP3: The Weakerthans – “Aside”
MP3: The Weakerthans – “The Last Last One”
Video: The Weakerthans – “Civil Twilight”
Video: The Weakerthans – “The Reasons”
Video: The Weakerthans – “Psalm For The Elks Lodge”
Video: The Weakerthans – “Our Retired Explorer”
Video: The Weakerthans – “Aside”
Video: The Weakerthans – “Watermark”
Video: The Weakerthans – “Diagnosis”
MySpace: The Weakerthans
A few of the bigger Canadian Music Week showcases are starting to come together. On the Thursday, March 6, the Horseshoe is hosting what’s shaping up to be a sterling lineup of Canadian talent with Immaculate Machine, Katie Stelmanis, Dog Day and The Acorn along with two secret acts that Chart (who are presenting the showcase) swears will be worth the wait when they’re revealed in three weeks or so. Uh huh. Dog Day are also at the Rivoli on the Saturday night along with Jenn Grant and over at Lee’s Palace that night, it’s a UK thing with Yoav, Archive, The Pigeon Detectives and The Duke Spirit.
Weekend America challenges The Mountain Goats to write a song about Super Tuesday. The Mountain Goats accept. Their new album of songs they weren’t dared to write – Heretic Pride – is out February 19.