Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Times, They've Changed

Time was, I went to lots of concerts. Weekly concerts. Cool shows. But now, as I hang on the edge of 40, with my kid, and her homework, and my career and my householder responsibilities, well now, not so much. My husband is a musical guy. Truth be told, I’m a musical girl. He practices weekly and jams with a band a couple of times a month. I sing along with the iPod. We should be seeing the shows, no?

Which brings me to the point of this post: Last night Scott and I went out to see an actual live musical act – and to dinner - without the child (thank you Nicole!!). The last time we did this was 2 years ago. I can’t even remember who we saw.

Last night we saw The Album Leaf. The opening act was Sea Wolf – a winsome, competent, confident band. Thank goodness, because our headliner didn’t go on till 11:15 p.m. On a Wednesday?! Apparently, generation G hipsters don’t have day jobs that start before noon. They sport numerous variations on lank hair and poorly-fitting vintage shirts with holes at the seams. Don’t ask me how I could determine this in a black room.

For better or worse, I’m sure as hell no longer the target demographic. (Of course, these days, the only thing I’m the target demographic for is TV shows about Cougars…) In my day, we would have been enveloped in a grey fog of cigarette smoke embellished by the sweet, acrid hint of weed. The liquor would have been hard. The attendees louche. This group was cheerful and draught-drinking and there was nary a joint in sight. The scariest thing about this gig was the washroom, which truly did freak me out. I have it on good authority that it hasn't been cleaned since my last visit to the venue in 1989.

Fine, that last para was hyperbolic. It appears I’ve become one of those judgmental middle-aged sorts who bitches about the young 'uns.

But back to Sea Wolf: It wasn’t really my scene. A little too alt meets grunge with some questionable synth and a bit of under-mixed ‘cello. The crowd was very happy though. All things considered, I think Sea Wolf got a warm response.

Turns out that’s all we had to tide ourselves over (Sea Wolf, get it!) because – no joke – The Album Leaf didn’t arrive till 10:00 p.m. and, on arrival, set up in front of us for more than an hour. Given that they didn’t even have a chance to do a real sound check, the band was amazing. Man, did the audience go nuts. I’ll be honest, they lost me at 10:30, long before they started playing. I’d been standing around for 2 hours at that point. I had a big meeting this morning at 9:00 a.m. The whole loud ambient, glitch-hop meets analog thing bores me a bit. But I had to admire the musical chops. They held the audience’s rapt attention.

Why were they apologetically tardy? I left at 11:45 p.m. but my husband stayed until the “meet the band” conclusion of the event, long after midnight. Sometime after I went home, the front person advised publicly that the group was late (and incomplete) because they had been held up at the border – for the entire day. Apparently, and it’s likely more shocking to have never happened before – than that it happened yesterday – this is because three of them have records. Of the criminal variety. Two of them have gone to jail. Yesterday the Canadian customs people finally figured that out. And turned the “criminals” back.

But before you assume that the Canadians were hard ass meanies, turns out – at the US border – the Americans refused to grant them re-entry!

If I understand this correctly, those poor band members were stuck in the 6-foot wide limbo that is neither (both?) America nor (and?) Canada. Talk about a rock and a hard place. I don’t know what they did to land them in jail. I don’t really care – I’m not here to moralize. But it irritates me that my tired toes had to pay for it. (Old person moment again.)

One of the obstacles to expedient set-up was this whack “light stick” arrangement (part of the audio/visual part of the performance). Over the course of the show, these weird strings of LED lights would go on and off in time to the music, change colours and do strange, strobe-y things that put me in mind of epileptic seizures. I have to say, it didn’t add to the experience for me.

I wonder if anyone else was at Lee’s last night and saw the gig. Do you know the band, even if you weren’t there? BTW, were I to start a band, I'd call it Bias Cut and wear cool, mid-century American design, with an air of ennui. Have any band names up your sleeve? Let’s chat post-rock ‘n roll!


  1. Jesus Christ. I'm fifty and I am not as fuddy-duddy and you.

    JK. nr. Anyway, I've heard that US=>Canada border crossings have become very difficult and some in Michigan have become draconian (Saline, MI - I'm looking at you).

  2. D.: Ha! Point taken. I was wondering how bad this would make me look :-) I hadn't heard about the border crossings but I have to say, this is a time to stay under the radar.

  3. You're cool, K. My wife is too old to rock and roll. I can relate.

    But I take solace in seeing with my own eyes the the kids are alright.

  4. Am loving the fuddy duddy love in v R&R!

    I'm still p*ssed Mr MDS forgot to get Florence & the Machine tickets.

    I love that you were thinking about your 9am meeting I would have been too xx

    PS When I got my dress I knew I couldn't make something so exquisite!

  5. I don't remember the last time I went to a non fuddy-duddy concert. I am not sure but at a certain point rock concerts stopped being fun for me. Oh, that's not entirely true, I did see Morrissey in 2008 and that was so fun that I felt like I was 17 again(without the curfew;-).

  6. Mr C took me to a true rock concert (a wunderkid guitar player ancestor of an Allman brother) in a glam Broadway-type gilt theatre last year. I appreciated it, but truly prefer the old kick-ass concerts of New Order (they were sulky and snobby) or REM.

  7. You need to get a denim jacket painted with a band name to recapture your youth ;-)

  8. D.: The kids ARE alright. Thank you for reminding me.

    Kate: The dress is truly excellent. You did so well. And what a great label. And price. Score all around!

    Bel: You found your inner teen! My inner teen was doing homework on Wed, apparently.

    Miss C: I love REM live - see last time I saw them was 15 years ago at Ontario Place on the lawn. I assure you there was lots of weed :-)

    W: No word of a lie - my husband came home with a logo-ed hoodie. I howled at him till he told me he bought it, in part, because he knows how hard the band works and he expects the merch really helps to pay the bills. That seemed like something someone's dad would do. So I'm in good company.

  9. isn't it amazing how quickly time creeps up on us? i find myself saying things my parents would say, i wonder how did that happen?

  10. Oh, REM live was fabulous! As to the rest you are so funny. I guess time creeps up way too quickly, but maybe you will rediscover your inner teenager as other obligations change.

    I sometimes think I was more uptight about concerts when I was younger. I don't know. The last two concerts I went to I enjoyed a great deal (Mono and Conor Oberst) but I haven't been to a traditional rock concert in quite a while.

  11. Pink: Once you have children, that happens hourly!!!

    Mardel: Part of me hopes I rediscover my inner teenager - or discover it for the first time after life responsibilities of this age and stage abate. I've never been known for my carefreeness, truth be told.