(Two months since Alex died.)
It’s been a week of seeing bands…
The Nymphets/The Captains – Barfly on Monday
Just so happened to be in the bar for this and was thoroughly entertained. I was worried when opening band The Captains took to the floor without a bassist – just a guitar and drums. I was already bitching a little to Ted the bartender about bands that don’t have a bass, but decided I would would take care of my ears by plugging them up a bit of toilet paper so the high-end wouldn’t get to me. Once they started, it was clearly going to be a treat. The singer, who I’ve met a few times at Barfly, was in a mood to entertain. Describing his band as “Stylish punks with weird hats”, the singer began by talking up the crowd and doing his best to get the Monday night crowd warmed up. He succeeded brilliantly. Every song was introduced with a title and a one liner to go along with it…..”This song’s called ‘Sex Injector’ – because I’ve been injecting sex ALL….DAY…LONG”, or “This is ‘Rubicon’ – it’s not very good, but it’s not very long”, and “This one’s digital – we play it with our fingers” on a song called “Computer”. Other song titles include “Pope John Paul” (chorus, whole crowd has to shout “Pope John Paul”), “Fecal Love”, and “Chicken Farm”. The Captains play great garage punk that had me rockin’ and laughing heartily. Looking forward to seeing these guys again, hopefully with a bassist.
The Nymphets were also pretty good. Decent punk rock, but I was so enthused with the Captains I couldn’t enjoy them as much. I’d see them again, though.
Blind – Barfly on Wednesday.
Blind have been playing Barfly for over 6 years now and I’ve been there since Day 1. They’re a long way from the days when it was just Colin on electric guitar and vocals and Peter M on piano. The addition a few years back of the legendary Stephen Barry on the upright bass has given them polish and legitimacy and turned this night into an event. It’s not unusual for them to have guest musicans, but it is unsual for them to have guest singers like they did this evening for one song – Katie Moore, Angela Desveaux, and Dara Weiss, a country/folk/bluegrass trio who all play guitar and have voices like angels. While regulars of Barfly’s “Bluegrass Night” are very familiar with these three, most of the Blind regulars had never heard or seen them before and were probably surprised to hear bluegrass break out in the middle of their blues. The crowd was wowed, though, and cheered them long and loud.
Neko Case – Club Soda on Friday.
This was my third time seeing Neko Case, and while better than her set at Metropolis opening for Wilco in 2003, it didn’t hold a candle to her set at Cabaret a couple of years ago. The Soda was packed but somewhat subdued for the size of the crowd. The set was short and there was no encore – is this becoming a trend? Good, glad I went, but nothing spectacular. I was sorry we missed the Sadies….
CPC Gangbangs/Starvin’ Hungry – L’Hemisphere Gauche on Saturday.
I’ve seen Starvin’ Hungry many times at Barfly, Sala Rosa, Sapphire, and now L’Hemisphere Gauche – a great venue with an actual pit and a 4 foot high stage. A great place to see a band but you have to be in or near the pit to really appreciate the sound. Needless to say, Starvin’ Hungry rocked. They’ve never sounded better and for my money they’re one of the great rock bands playing in this city. CPC Gangbangs are just insane! I could tell from the moment they hit the stage it was going to be old-fashioned punk rock with attitude. I found it hard to believe a band with this much attitude could come from Montreal – they felt more like some late 70’s New York punk band than a 2000s Montreal band. This wasn’t studs and leather punk, it wasn’t even thrash punk – the crowd seemed more into twitching and shaking than thrashing – it was fucked up on drugs punk. Kind of reminded me of the Deadboys and the Chromosomes, though at least one song reminded a friend of mine of the 13th Floor Elevators. Check these guys out at least once if if you’re into old school punk rock. It’s a scene, man.
In this installment of writing about Alex’s favourite covers……
Pagliaro – Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy
This one always brought a smile on my face because it was the only Top 10 hit Alex ever played. OK, it was top 10 in 1971, but still. “Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy” is pop made in heaven. Pagliaro was always huge in Quebec but in Canada it was another matter. Growing up in Montreal in the 70s and 80s, it just wasn’t possible to go through life without hearing Pagliaro and being immediately hooked by this song. Shockingly, CBCs “50 track” show completely missed the boat and put Trooper on their list over Pagliaro. Go figure. Must be a Toronto thing. Here’s what one person had to say about this song from www.earcandymag.com, placing it number 9 on his “Ten Canadian Records You Shouldn’t Live Without”.
“There are two vividly distinct cultures, artistic AND social, living uncomfortably alongside one another in Canada: the largely French-speaking province of Quebec, and the entire REST of that gigantic nation! But even English Canada’s age-old suspicious aversion to their Quebec brethren would instantly melt whenever the triumphant voice of Michel Pagliaro appeared on the airwaves during the early Seventies. His absolute string of Top 40 masterpieces (many recorded at no less than the London studios of Apple Records …in and around Badfinger sessions!) remain defining moments in the History of Canadian Rock, and with them “Pag” made his mark as not only a Pure Pop Wonder, but a figure who all-too-briefly united Canada’s dual (and dueling) halves with nothing but a song.”