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Archive for the ‘Whitehorse’ Category

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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information_cover_FINAL_webSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Vertigo, Victoria British Columbia, (January 21, 2000).

21Jan2000I recently learned that the Rheostatics Live website has added dozens of new (old) shows.  It has been almost exactly a year since I last did a tour of some of these live shows, so it was time to move into 2000 (with one new show added since I last looked).

As of 2000, the band is still touring the Harmelodia album, and the set has a lot of songs from that album.  I recently relistened to the album (something I don’t listen to all that much).  I was surprised to hear how many songs had narration–which pretty much precludes them from playing them live.  So that explains why they focus on just a few songs live.

Lucky’s notes for this show state: The Rheos were on a short west-coast swing and they played in Whistler the night before this show. In fact, the inspiration for ‘Satan Is The Whistler’ (from their following album) came from this trip, as Martin remarked something along the lines of ‘They are a bunch of Fascists in Whistler!’.

This is a really good set.  The sound quality is excellent and the band is in very good form.  There’s some great harmonies on “Loving Arms” and Martin really rocks the guitar on “I Fab Thee.”  “Junction Foil Ball” sounds awesome here–a good breakdown in the middle.  And it’s a rare sighting of “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” and a replay of “Good Canadian.”

It’s always fun when the band is feeling chatty.  In this show they joke about the Crash Test Dummies and even sing, “Superman never made any money saving the world from Crash Test Dummies.”  They also have fun with “My First Rock Show” with talk of blood on the seats.

The band has some technical failures, and they play a Stompin’ Tom song (“Bud the Spud”) while they get fixed.  But it doesn’t mess them up as they play a killer version of “Stolen Car” with a great solo.

Luke Doucet (now of Whitehorse, then of opening act Veal) plays during “Legal Age Life” and the band jokes about the Vealostatics.

The whole show ran for nearly two hours.  It’s a great set and the first of two nights at Vertigo.

[READ: February 10, 2015] Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

This short book is Doctorow’s plea for Copyright common sense, Net Neutrality and internet freedoms (among other things).  Of course Net Neutrality just passed–hurrah!– which makes this book less urgent but no less spot on and worth remembering while going forward.

Doctorow starts each section by stating his three laws:

  • “Anytime someone puts a lock on something you own, against your wishes, and doesn’t give you the key, they’re not doing it for your benefit.”
  • “Fame Won’t Make You Rich, But Yo Can’t Get Paid Without It”  (or as Tim O’Reilly said “The problem for most artists isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity.”)
  • “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, People Do.”

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 18, 2013] Barenaked Ladies

20131018_214137-1.jpgSarah and I saw BNL this summer with our friend Megan, and the show was great.  That marked the fourth or fifth time that I’d seen them.  When we found out that they were coming through again (to the close to us and cool Bethlehem Sands) we thought it might be fun to see them again.  Especially with our friends Matt and Marisa who like them but had never seen them.  So we met up and had a very fun time.  We ate at Emeril’s Burgers and More.  The burger was good (although it took an incredibly long time for it to arrive).  The strange thing about the burger was that it was very crispy on the outside (which was good) but rather and odd shade of  pink on the inside (which may have been the lighting, but it was certainly pinker than usual for medium), but it was not juicy/bloody—how is something pink but not juicy?  It was weird.  But still rather tasty.

But back to the show.  Our seats were in Row 20, which was much better than our seats this summer. The pictures here are mine taken with my phone—they’re blurrier than I’d like, but not terrible.

And this show was a ton of fun and full of surprises.  They started with “Limits” an unexpected song from their new album.  And then they jumped into “Never is Enough” a surprise old song.  Ed always does an introductory rap (which no one ever includes in the setlists online for some reason).  This one, while not as good as the PNC Bank Center one was enjoyable.  Ed explained that he ran a half marathon that day on the Sands grounds.  Well, actually he ran a block but did cross the finish line (the band played along with Da Don’t Run Run).  It was very funny.  “Pinch Me” is the new crowd favorite.  Whereas they used to throw Mac and Cheese during $1,000,000, now they throw underwear.  And much hilarity ensues. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 18, 2013] Whitehorse

whitehorseliveWhitehorse opened for Barenaked Ladies at the Bethlehem Sands (our new favorite slightly larger venue–even if the acoustics aren’t great, the seating is good and the prices reasonable–we were in the 20th row for this set, which was really perfect).

I had never heard of Whitehorse, so when I saw that they were opening for Barenaked Ladies, I wanted to see what they were all about.  I found a concert from Mountain Stage which was enjoyable but which I felt pigeonholed the band as a kind of country folk duo.  They weren’t exactly what I imagined when I thought of an opening band for BNL.  I actually wondered if BNL’s show would be more mellow in general, too.

Well, Whitehorse absolutely blew me away on stage.

They opened as I expected, with Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland (who were solo performers and recently got married) playing guitars and singing into one microphone (that last part I didn’t expect).  They sounded great together.  And the song (“No Glamour in the Hammer”) was very nice—mellow folk with a hint of country.  And then things got really interesting.  They each moved to a different microphone.  McClelland switched to a bass, Doucet switched to an electric guitar.  And then they started playing some percussion—Doucet played a bass drum with his foot while playing the guitar.  Then he picked up some random percussion objects—small drums, maracas, even pots and pans—and hit them a few times.  And that’s when I realized they were looping the percussion and building the rest of the song from that.  McClelland played some keyboard and, at one point, she began singing into a distorted microphone to create some cool vocals which she also looped.  A video camera closeup revealed that the “microphone” was actually an old-fashioned telephone.  The first song went on for a pretty long time, building and growing and expanding  And by the end of the song the crowd was hooked.

What was completely evident was just how much fun they were having.  Both of them were smiling all the way through the set, in between singing of course.  They looked at each other and shared moments, thanked us and BNL and told good stories to lead up to the songs.  (more…)

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