Bands, Birthdays, and Bootlegs

It’s been that kind of 9 days. Saw Starvin’ Hungry, Crackpot, and the American Devices at Le Divan Orange on the 22nd; celebrated Gail’s birthday on the 23rd; got together with Carlos and friends on the 24th and listened to unreleased Nils demos/live recordings; saw the Sunday Sinners and the Royal Mountain Band at Barfly on the 25th; celebrated Debbie’s birthday in style on the 26th; checked out a Jerk Appeal rehearsal with Rick since Luc from Chino is playing drums with them for one time only on Tuesday; and finally, saw the Weakerthans, Constantines, Lullabye Arkestra, and Malcolm Bauld at Cabaret last night. Unfortunately for me, none of these activites have helped me with what is my priority task these days – finding full time work, or any work at all for that matter. I have to get a job, and fast. But enough of that. All of the above were worth any time and money I put in. A thoroughly enjoyable nine days, which is probably why it’s taken me so long to write an entry.

Last night’s show at the Cabaret was what I’d call a good mixed bag. We arrived just in time to catch the last 6 songs of Malcolm Bauld’s set, a very poppy brand of rock. I thought they were pretty good, sometimes a bit too poppy for my taste, but he and his band play sincere, from the heart pop rock. Then came the Lullabye Arkestra, an add-on to the night that we didn’t expect and really enjoyed, as it turned out. Allan Youster described them as the “Tijuana Brass Band meets a dirty bass…. who knew it would work?” They kind of reminded of Camper Van Beethoven with Mexican brass replacing the polka/klezmer sound of CVB. Plus, they’re way heavier than CVB. Closer to metal than punk. Really enjoyed this band and hope to see them again soon. Then it was the Constantines, a band I’ve heard plenty about but never actually heard. To be honest, I just wasn’t into them. They played stuff that felt like Killing Joke-meets-Gang of Four-meets-XTC-meets Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know…..they’re a good live band, very tight, but I’m not sure if I like the material. I’ll have to see/hear them again to form a definite opinion.

The Weakerthans finished the night with a fantastic performance. Except for the rousing rendition of the Travelling Wilbury’s “End of the Line” with all the other band members at the end of the night, I had not heard any of the songs before. I heard them for the first time at Cabaret last night and was thoroughly impressed with them. These guys are pop rock at its finest. They had huge chunks of the crowd singing the words spontaneously. From where we were sitting, we were almost as impressed with the emotion of their fans as we were with the band. I’ll definitely be checking out their recorded material to see if it measures up with this performance.

A couple of observations and anecdotes from the evening:

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a show and hardly recognized a soul in the place. Everyone seemed so young. One of the few people I did know I wouldn’t have recognized unless she introduced herself to me. Which is what she did. Christie, a former “Real Pub” waitress who’s served up plenty of coffee and breakfasts to half awake Galsgow Celtic supporters on weekday mornings. She was our best waitress ever, and I haven’t seen her in a couple of years.

Standing to the right of the stage, half way along the bar, very pretty young woman smiling in my direction as if to say hello. It’s dark, so I figure she must be saying hello to someone else. I look behind me, but there’s no one there and she’s still looking and smiling right at me. She approaches me.

“You don’t remember me, do you?”, she says, and when she laughed I knew that I did.
“Um, yeah, I think I might, that laugh, but….”
“I used to be a waitress at the Real Pub a couple….”
“Christie! Yeah I remember you! You were our best waitress ever!”. She really was. She had it hard, serving rowdy Celtic supporters at ungodly hours of the morning.
“Hey, Christie!”, Allan immediately joins in. Allan and I are often nostalgiac when we think back to Christie serving us coffee and breakfast over a Celtic match. We’ve had some bad ones lately.

So we have short but pleasant conversation and then the Lullabye Arkestra start their set and we part ways. Great to see young Christie, though. She always seems ready to burst into laughter at any moment and always has a smile for us.

Apart from the lovely Christie, the only other person I knew besides Caroline from Greenland was , standing in his customary place – right at the stage. Didn’t get a chance to talk with him, but from where I was on the balcony he seemed to be really enjoying the Weakerthans.

And now, it’s time to get some real work done.


2 thoughts on “Bands, Birthdays, and Bootlegs

  1. Ha, busted! I’m glad you enjoyed the show. Malcolm is a good friend of mine and I wanted to be right up front to be sending him the love for his first show with the new band, and I was thoroughly impressed with his set– hadn’t heard 90% of those songs before, and I really enjoyed the Joe-Strummer-with-a-pompadour kind of sound. I don’t mind the poppiness of it at all– that’s my weakness, when you get right down to it.

    I *LOVED* the Arkestra last night. I’ve seen them a bunch of times in various different incarnations, but mostly only as the 2-piece of Justin on drums and Katja on bass. They started out doing half and half deep soul and death metal, though now they’ve really merged them, and I loved all the horns, plus the organ and violen and general craziness last night. A glorious mess! I’d seen them with horns before and liked that, but the huge, stupid catastrophe of them all on stage having a ball and bringing much rock was just a joy to behold. I didn’t even know they were playing until an hour before the show, and that surprise made my night.

    As I said to Angie, the Constantines– well, they were almost, but not quite. They did their thing well, but it just wasn’t my thing. It could have been, and it was close, but something about them seemed too… well, I don’t know, safe? Contrived? Something I’ve seen before a bunch of times? I don’t know. I had high expectations but they just didn’t reach them.

    Weakerthans were a tonne of fun– that’s the sixth time I’ve seen them and they’ve always meant something different to me. They were a band I listened to when shit was going very badly and they only seemed to make it worse, so there’s this sadness there… but then later when things were going a thousand times better I listened to them again and now I think of how amazing it was to turn those feelings over. I’m not the only one who’s had that experience, and that makes me think that there’s something peculiarly emotionally accessible about that band. People can feel bad with them, or good with them. Last night, I just had a grin on my face through their whole set.

    Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I had no idea you were there!

    1. I’ll definitely be checking out Malcolm’s band again, I only saw the last few songs so it’s not enough to form an opinion on the material. The band is very tight and I liked most of the material I heard.

      The Arkestra (thanks for correcting my spelling of the name) were a hit with Allan and I. A two piece? Really? I can’t imagine them any other way other than a “glorious mess”. Very entertaining stuff….

      So we agree on the Constantines also. I really wanted to like them, thought they put on a good performance and I don’t think they missed a beat or a note the whole set, but the material was not getting through to me.

      Interesting what you have to say about the Weakerthans. The range of emotion generated by the band and the crowd really impressed me. Some songs were sad, and people sang. Some songs were happy, and they sang. It brings you back to what music is all about. Just loved their set.

      I didn’t know you were there until Allan and I got a choice balcony seat (front and center) just before the Weakerthans started. At some point in the set I could see you just left of center at the front of the stage. I thought I might run into you on the way out, but we got out of there pretty quick.

      Going to the Barfly on Saturday for some punk rock?

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