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Archive for the ‘Guster’ Category

SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-Le Colisee, Quebec City QC (November 30 1996).

This is the 16th night of the 24 date Canadian Tour opening for The Tragically Hip on their Trouble At The Henhouse Tour. This is the same show that the Double Live version of Saskatchewan was taken from. It is also the show Dave wrote about in On A Cold Road.

The site has recently added a DAT version of the show in conjunction with the existing fan-recorded version (which is quite different and an interesting perspective).

The show opens with a recording of (maybe) a French-language hockey game?  I love how the opening guitars of “Saskatchewan” just start during the cheering.

Obviously this is a great version if they chose it for their live album.

It segues right into “Fat” which opens a little funky.  It runs to about seven minutes with the rocking ending being fun as usual.  “Fat” segues into a quiet and beautiful “Digital Beach” with great guitars from Martin and then, surprisingly into “Claire.”  Martin’s solo sounds very different–single notes played in a unusual (for him) style.  I like the change and it works well for the song.

Dave asks: Whats the shouting?  more shouting.  Martin: WHAT!?  (on the other recording you can hear that some guy is shouting: “Bad. Time. To. Be. Poor.”  The guy then deliberately shouts: “We came here to see you guys.”  Shame it’s not acknowledged).

Dave says, “We’re gonna do four songs in one from our new album, The Blue Hysteria.  Thanks to the whistling bats over there.”

“Four Little Songs” is goofier than usual.  And then Don, ever the salesman says “this next song is the current single from our brand new record which you can buy here at the venue.”  When they do play “Bad Time to Be Poor,” (those guys must have gone nuts), it sounds great.

Dave: “Thanks very much.  Save a bit for The Tragically Hip.  I don’t want you to….”

On “Sweet Rich, Beautiful, Mine,” Martin hits a slight wrong note before the roaring midsection which is kind of shame, but he recovers fine and the rest of the song is spot on.

A lovely “Dope Fiends” ends the show with a cool acoustic guitar and drum middle.  Martin has some fun with the “dark side of the moon” ending growling it somewhat and Dave says “By Pink Floyd.  Side two.”  Just before Martin roars his awesome guitar ending.

The song and show ends with Martin playing and then singing “You Are Very Star.”  It’s a very sweet ending.

[READ: June 2018] Start Without Me

I really enjoyed this story.  It was funny and dark and played with all kinds of twisted family portraits.

As the book opens Adam wakes up in the house he grew up in.  But in the basement.
A young child sizes him up, “Who are you?”
“I’m Adam.  Uncle Adam.”
The boy shakes his head. “My uncle’s Travis.  He lives in Texas.”
“I’m your other uncle.”
“Why are you on the couch?”

Indeed, why is it?  It is Thanksgiving.  One of his siblings or their offspring is in his old room.  They weren’t sure if he would show.

Finally it dawns on the boy, “Are you the uncle who smashed the pinata?”
“Jesus, that’s what you remember?”  Did he actually owe apologies to the kids, too? (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 23, 2019] Dilly Dally

I can’t believe it was actually two and a half years since I last saw Dilly Dally.  I was rather looking forward to seeing them again–their new album is great–an evolution but not a reinvention.

Then our Guster show was cancelled and placed on  this very night.  Coincidentally, in the same building!  Guster was going to play the large venue of the Fillmore while Dilly Dally was scheduled to play upstairs in the Foundry.

The Guster show was great, but since Dilly Dally started an hour later, I thought I’d see if they were still playing as we walked out.  The bouncer guy was rather surprised that I had a ticket for both shows.  But I showed him my ticket and with S’s blessing, I went upstairs to see a song or two (I was bummed and a little surprised they wouldn’t let her up since the show was more or less over).  The bouncer guy said they had the room until 11:15.  It was barely after ten when I went upstairs (S. said she didn’t mind waiting for ten minutes, but understandably, not an hour).

When I walked upstairs I could hear the unmistakable voice and guitar work of Dilly Dally. Dilly Dally are from Toronto and they were described to me as being like the Pixies meets Hole.  I can certainly hear that although they transcend their influences.  They play loud aggressive alternative rock that’s headed by Katie Monks’ snarling singing voice and Liz Bell’s sharp and catchy lead guitar work.  Bassist Jimmy Tony (in a striking silver sparkling short skirt) and drummer Benjamin Reinhartz lay down a low end that keeps the sound grounded. It was a drastic change from Guster.  As was the size of the crowd.  The Guster show was packed uncomfortably tight, but this show was more open and I was able to walk around.

They finished the excellent “Bad Biology” and I wondered how long I could push my luck–how many songs could I make S wait for.  And then Katie Monks told us that the next song was the last song.  Disappointing but very convenient. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 23, 2019] Guster

Back in January, Guster postponed their Philadelphia concert because they were going to be on Late Night with Seth Myers.  They rescheduled it for mid-March and decided that it would be a 20th Anniversary celebration of their 1999 album Lost and Gone Forever.  So although the date change sucked at the time, the new show promised to be freakin amazing.

And, as it turned out, this was the best and the worst Guster concert that S. and I have seen together (number 7 for both of us).

Why the worst?  The worst because we arrived later than we intended and wound up further back than we wanted to.  Which is not the end of the world.  But, when you’re in the back in the Fillmore, you are near the bar and all the people talking.  A lot.  Even people who claimed to love the band, even people who commented on how good they sounded (they did), even people who would sing along loudly to parts of songs, all of these people also talked through huge swaths of the show.

One woman shouted to her friends during a quiet part and I had to say something.  It was really dreadful.  I though that during the intermission, people would pile out to get drinks and we could move closer, but nope, it was jam packed.

So aside from the worst crowd I’ve ever experienced, the show was great.  The band was in amazing form, they sounded great–and the venue helped them to sound great.  It was definitely one of the best sounding shows I’ve seen from them. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WHITEHORSE-Live at Massey Hall (December 8, 2017).

I saw Whitehorse open for Barenaked Ladies a few years ago and they blew me away.  I really want to see them again.

When I saw them it was just the two of them and the magic of their interplay was what really impressed me the most.  For this special Massey Hall show, they have a full band.  But as Melissa McClelland explains:

This is the first time playing the Massey stage with a full band.  We wanted to … finally invite some friends on stage with us and play music.

Those friends include John Obereian on drums, Ryan Gavel on bass, guitar and backing vocals and on keys and bongos and guitar, the second best singer in this band Gregory MacDonald.  He replies, “Thanks to the second best guitar player in the band.”  I have seen MacDonald on tour with Sloan a bunch of times and he is awesome.

As to why they are a duo, she says

we knew that Whitehorse was always going to be just the two of us and that everyone would know that we are equal partners in the band.  But we didn’t want it to be a folk duo so we started brainstorming and bought looping pedals and a kick drum and a stomp box and we  found new arrangements and once we got it we were like Yeah!

The show opens with hand clapping from the band and the audience and then Melissa’s slinky bass intro to “Baby Whats Wrong.  Then comes Luke Doucet’s echoing Western guitar. Their voices are wonderful together and I love when Doucet sings in that weird telephone microphone.  He also plays a ripping guitar solo.

Luke introduces “Tame as the Wild Ones” by saying they needed to write a sexy song so “Melissa kicked me out and said she’d do it alone.  I go to the bar to get drunk and when I come home, she plays me this song.  And nine months later our son Jimmy was born.”  I love the way the bridge (or is it a chorus) builds and settles–that melody is just gorgeous.

“Pink Kimono” has a simple rocking riff and the two singers singing at the same time.   Doucet’s soloing is on fire in this song.

“Die Alone” is a showstopper.  A slow moody piece in which Melissa sings over a wash of synths.  The music so much build as just unfold as first Luke sings with her and then the band kicks in.  Wow can Melissa belt out a song.

“Downtown” is a celebration of how you can put hundreds of thousands of people in a city and for the most part everyone gets along.  It s got a great throbbing bass and some cool guitar scratching and riffs from Doucet.  It’s a bummer that they interrupt the awesome middle solo section with an interview, even if it is quite interesting.

After Melissa lays out how they wanted the band to sound, Luke says that when people ask him about what it’s like to do Whitehorse, he says

we were solo artists first but we had been involved with each others albums as singer or producer  or touring musician.

So in order to be successful

you have to hang out together for five or six years and play in each others bands and make eight albums together and then you have to go on tour as freelance/hired gun musicians working for Blue Rodeo or Sarah McLachlan and then you have to live together for five or six years and listen to music together and fight and then you have to get married and once you’ve done all these things and listened to 10,000 hours of music and dissected Tom Waits entire catalog and argued about which is the best Beatles record and had fights on stage about who is speeding up or slowing down and once you’ve done all those things together then start a band.

It certainly worked for them.  The only bad thing about this show is that it’s only 30 minutes.

[READ: January 24, 2019] Hits & Misses

It has been a while since Simon Rich published a collection of his stories.  This one was pretty enjoyable.  Overall, not as much fun as some of his previous collections, but still a lot to laugh at.  Rich tends to write what he knows, which is often a very good sign.  However, sometimes what he knows is limited to writing and filming, which tends to miss the everyman silliness of his earlier pieces.

Having said that there are still some hilarious pieces that anyone can enjoy and some pieces about writers that are very funny.

A few of these pieces appeared in the New Yorker, and I indicate as much, with a link to my longer review.

“The Baby.”  This was a highlight.  A sonogram reveals that their baby is holding a pen–he is going to be a writer!  But when word gets out that the baby is already getting a reputation AND representation, well, that baby’s writer father is pretty damned jealous.  Wonderful absurdity based on reality taken to its extremes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 11, 2019] Guster

Guster has a new album coming out this month.  And as part of their tour, they are coming to the Philly Fillmore on S. and my wedding anniversary!  Obviously, we got tickets and plan to have a bizarre Anniversary celebration–no fancy meal, just music–and we hope we are acknowledged from the stage!

[UPDATE: This date, our anniversary show, has been postponed!  Why?  Because the band is going to be on Late Night with Seth Meyers instead.  We love Seth, so if anyone is going to ruin our anniversary plans we’re glad it’s him.  It turns out that the rescheduled date is going to be a 20th anniversary show of Lost and Gone Forever, which means two full sets of Guster.  I think we made out ahead.  Thanks Seth].

I have never been to a Free at Noon show before.  They seem so awesome–a free concert from some amazing bands?  Sign me up!  The problem is that the venue, World Cafe Live, is 75 minutes from my work.  So, an hour show, two and a half hour driving…  that’s about a four-hour lunch.  Well, I had some personal time, so I used it and got myself and S. tickets for Free at Noon.  I didn’t think she’d be able to go and she didn’t think she could either, so I went by myself.

Parking was a lot harder to find during the day and it was very cold.  I never thought if I got there at 11:45 I’d have to wait online, but they were having some kind of technical difficulties and they kept everyone outside.  I specifically took off my sweater in the car figuring the venue wold be roasting, so I was pretty chilly waiting out there.  By five to 12, someone came around and told us that we wouldn’t miss anything.  And indeed, the free at noon started at 12:15 instead of noon. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 1, 2018] Guster        

It had been over two years since we’d since Guster and we were going through some withdrawal.  So it was pretty exciting that they were starting their latest tour at out favorite club in Jersey City.

We’d never seen them at the beginning of a tour before and I have to say the rest does them well.  They seemed energetic (which they usually are) but more importantly everyone’s (especially Ryan’s) voices sounded amazing–best I’ve ever heard them.

They have a new album coming out in January so we thought it might be a show of all new songs . But it wasn’t.  They played two brand new songs (and none of the singles that they’ve released so far).  The rest of the show (all 23-2 songs + two improvs) were familiar and more than welcomed.

When we saw them last time, we had seen them three times in 14 months and during those three shows they had played a ton of songs that we hadn’t heard before (or not since a decade earlier). So this show was a lot more songs that we’ve heard (which is still fine).  But with a few that were more or less new.  And of course those wonderful improvs. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 1, 2018] Zac Clark

Thursday nights are bad music nights for us.  C. and I have a Boy Scout meeting.  During Field Hockey season, T. has practice (or in this case a party).  So arrangements must be made.

We thought the Guster show started at 8:30, which would have given us just the right amount of time to drop of T and get to the show.

But then they moved the show up to 8.  (Irritatingly, Guster had malfunctions with their gear so they didn’t go on until 9:30 anyway).  If there was easy parking we would have made it fine.  But Jersey City on a Thursday night was something of a zoo and it took us fifteen minutes to find a spot (there was a potter’s wheel in the garbage which I seriously considered taking).  Then we had to walk the 8 or 9 blocks (and we had a delicious slice form a gourmet pizza place on 5th) and after security and bathrooms, we basically walked in and heard two and a half songs from Zac Clark. (more…)

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