Monday, March 29, 2010

Gig: Sun Ra Ra Ra

Sun Ra Ra Ra (Magic Cheezies / Queen Licorice / Holy Mount / Ghost Trees)

The Silver Dollar Room. Saturday, February 27, 2010.

Show up early enough for one of Dan Burke's bills at the Silver Dollar and you never quite know what you're going to get. There's something touching1 about the way that he will add a band at the bottom of the bill that has no stylistic ties to the rest of the night — in this case slipping in a band of mostly soft edges in a night otherwise filled with hardness. This would turn out to be the case with Ghost Trees2, mainly a vehicle for the songs of singer/guitarist Jamie Steep, backed by a pair of friends on keyb and an 80's drum machine. The latter wasn't used for cranking out programmed rhythms; rather, sitting on top on a floor tom, it was "played" live by Chris B., sitting behind the kit. Its tones — tinny and mechanical but still slightly off-kilter — lent the songs sort of a minimalist C86 type of sound. You know those albums where there are bonus tracks of demos of the album cuts, stripped down, with a drum machine in the background? And how sometimes those demos have a raw, honest appeal that goes missing somewhere when the songs get fully fleshed out? Listening to Ghost Trees playing live was like listening to that. One new song came out a little on the rough and under-rehearsed side, but it was mildly endearing and fit in with the band's gently shambolic kind of vibe. The tunes weren't all killer, but if nothing else, the band is working out a rigourous and distinctive sound which could turn into something quite interesting.

Listen to a track from this set here.

That would be the last time on this night that terms like "quiet, understated charm" would be floating through my head. As a passel of young men started lugging an enormous amount of gear on stage, the place started to fill with a fairly young crowd. And soon that gear — giant bass cabinet and immaculate new-looking Marshall amps — was being put to the test by Oshawa's Holy Mount. Leading off with "Wild Weather", rising out of a couple minutes of guitar noise before a sluggishly churning beat and another woozy guitar line took over. As if I'd just chugged some codeine-laced cough syrup, everything suddenly got slow and heavy. Playing only five songs in their half-hour set (a couple of which stretched out to about the seven-minute mark) the band definitely had some heaviosity going on. Outside my usual musical sweet spot, to be sure, but to the extent I can get behind anything that falls into the wider category of "metal", I'm more likely to be behind something that's appending a prefix like "sludge" to it.3 The vocals were... serviceable, but the band was more about imparting a vaguely psychedelic molasses pour of a time. Again, probably just my particular taste talking, but I actually enjoyed it the most when the tempos were at their most sluggish. On the whole, I liked this more than I thought I might have at the outset, though this probably isn't the sort of thing I wouldn't go out of my way to see.4

Filed more definitively under "wouldn't go out of my way to see" would be Queen Licorice, up next, and sharing the use of all that aforementioned fancy gear. The band's complement included, besides the musicians, a "Spiritual Guru", and I guess this was the skull-mask-clad bloke handing out licorice to the audience as the band finished setting up. Also loud, I must confess that this band didn't do anything for me — they seemed to be aiming more for something like "radio ready modern rock".5 When I'm taking in opening bands, I normally make a point of trying to remain attentive and give them a fair shake, but by a couple songs into this set I'd had enough, and moved over from in front of the stage to find a spot in the raised seating area, leaving more room for the not-insubstantial number of supporters that were in the room — obviously this was to their taste. A couple songs further along, even sitting and watching seemed like too much and I had pulled out my newspaper, keeping myself occupied with that. Other problems notwithstanding, the band arguably overstayed their welcome, with their set lasting for over forty-five minutes. Of course, a long set is always longer when it's not your thing. Plenty of time to look at the headlines and ponder one's mortality.6

But if life is brief, a set by Magic Cheezies is quicker. Once all of that gear was cleared off, the stage looked positively spartan as the trio took over, with Heather Curley's guitar hooked up to a peeny Peavy amp. I was won over by their Wavelength 500 appearance, though the band seemed less-than-pleased with themselves on that night, so I wanted to see them again when they were less preoccupied with technical gremlins. Except for their respective snack-related monikers, the band was pretty much the opposite of the one that had preceded them, which I think gave them a little something extra to push against.7

As with the Wavelength show, the set was here and gone in a flash — nine songs in under fifteen minutes, but it felt like about the exact right amount. Once again, Curley led the band in a white-hot clamour, her singing punctuated by arresting yelps and whoops as she generated crunchy, feedback-laced noises from her guitar. The lyrical content is sometimes hard to decipher, but enough phrases slip through ("so sick and tired!", "you make up the words!", "what are you gonna do?") to get their attitude across. Their flow through the set was much more assured this time, with the last squeals of noise from one song still cutting through the room as the count-in for the next song began. There are moments in my life where I want subtlety and nuance and delicacy — but in the opposite-feeling times, Magic Cheezies is exactly the sort of thing I want to hear. Quite superb.

Listen to a couple tracks from this set here.

I was also eager to have another chance to see Sun Ra Ra Ra. Besides wanting another dose of the energy they brought to the stage, the last time I'd caught 'em, they were short a keyboard player, so I did want to see how that affected their sound. The vintage Ace Tone did do a bit to gather together the sonic confusion, and its presence was felt on the opener, which was more of a slow groover. But by and large, the Sun Ra Ra Ra sound is raucous garage spasms, presented with a semi-chaotic stage presence. The vocals — presented with I-drank-acid-and-I'm-pissed-off-about-it scratchy intensity — might be at the far end of the take-it-or-leave it scale for some people, but fit right into the band's ragged gut-punch aesthetic. If the Stooges spent an afternoon huffing turpentine and then decided to bash out some Chuck Berry covers... well, you get the idea. An essential live experience, especially their glossolalian version of "Surfin' Bird", which, in defying description, needs to be seen to be believed. Suffice it to say, SRRR take the song past "creepy", and nestle it right up against "alarming". The finale involved a lot of instrument-swapping with the song in progress, concluding things with the right amount of ragged abandon.

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 Or possibly totally mercenary.

2 Not to be confused with Ghost Bees, Ghostlight, or Ghostkeeper. Or, for that matter, not to be confused with Screaming Trees or Treepeople.

3 I mean, like, yeah, I have some Melvins cassettes stored away in a box somewhere.

4 If this sounds like your cup of tea, the band is offering a newly-recorded EP for free download on their myspace.

5 And, oh — that sentence required some lengthy consideration to keep it mostly out of the realm of making me sound like a pretentious knob. My notepad has some less kind commentary written at the time, including "suitable for bored kids to smoke hash to" — which might actually be looked at more positively by this band than I meant it.

6 The latter thoughts were probably dredged up by the fact that I was sitting across from the Gord Brown mini-plaque affixed to the back of the wall seats. It's a touching thing, worth keeping an eye out for next time you're at the Dollar. It made me ponder at which venue I'd want my engraved memorial, should I suffer an untimely demise.

7 "Thank you to Pearl Jam for that lovely long set," was how Curley put it. And to a certain extent, the lack of appreciation from Queen Licorice's fans was reciprocated — a couple women who had been right up front dancing through QL's set lasted for about one minute into Magic Cheezies before they gave each other a preplexed look and decamped from the room.

Recording: African Guitar Summit

Artist: African Guitar Summit

Song: Pesa Ni u Funguo

Recorded at "African Canadians for Haiti" benefit concert, Lula Lounge, February 25, 2010.

African Guitar Summit - Pesa Ni u Funguo

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Adam Solomon & Tikisa

Artist: Adam Solomon & Tikisa

Song: unknown*

Recorded at "African Canadians for Haiti" benefit concert, Lula Lounge, February 25, 2010.

Adam Solomon & Tikisa - unknown

My notes for this set can be found here.

* Does anybody know the title of this one? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Fojeba

Artist: Fojeba

Song: Kokuha*

Recorded at "African Canadians for Haiti" benefit concert, Lula Lounge, February 25, 2010.

Fojeba - Kokuha

My notes for this set can be found here.

* Thanks to Fojeba for passing the title along, and pointing out you can get his album at CDbaby here.

Gig: African Canadians for Haiti

African Canadians for Haiti (feat. African Guitar Summit, Adam Solomon & Tikisa, Jacques Yams, Fojeba, Afrafranto, William Nkemagni, Masaisai)

Lula Lounge. Thursday, February 25, 2010.

Headed down to the Lula Lounge on a bitterly cold Thursday night with a double purpose in mind. Not only was this a chance to catch some of the best musicians in the city assembled together on one stage, but it was also a benefit, raising earthquake relief funds for Haiti. When disaster strikes, one pitches in with whatever tools are at hand, and in that spirit many of the bands that were playing, called to the show on relatively short notice, were playing with unusual line-ups, leading to some interesting spontaneous collaborations throughout the night. Meanwhile, it was an unusual sort of show for me to attend, with the Lula set up for a sit-and-have-dinner sort of show — generally a signifier of an older, more well-heeled crowd. It was reasonably busy when I arrived, but I managed to get seated at a table right up front.

Things led off with a set from Masaisai, playing in a stripped-down four-piece configuration with no mbira. This put the focus on Tich Maredza as a singer and songwriter, and he did a nice job explaining what each of the songs (sung in the Shona language, I believe) were about. With less of a rhythmic undercurrent, the music was well-suited to sitting back and listening. One (called "They shall grow up one day" in English) had a nice gentle groove and the band stretched it out, allowing guitarist Larry Lewis to lay down some tasty sounds on top of the solid rhythm section of Andrew Mark (drums) and Tichaona Gombiro (bass). Things picked up with the more upbeat "Chikende". And showing that the band can produce a dance-worthy groove without the rhythms of the mbiras and marimba, the set ended with an extended run through "Sweet Pumpkin", where Maredza set down his guitar and showed off some dance moves. Although this had a different feel than Masaisai's usual sets, it was still a fully entertaining time.

Between the musical sets, an interlude from poet William Nkemagni who spoke to the room with a strong presence. With heartfelt words, he carried a notebook but spoke without looking at it. Vibrant and interactive, Nkemagni demanded a response back from the crowd — including directing a question to a patron seated up front. Engaging and a nice fit with the evening's program.

And then, with no break, it was straight into Afrafranto's set. Also playing in a more slimmed-down configuration on this night, the band was playing as a four-piece, with no keyboards and "Golden Voice" Theo Yaa Boakye seated and adding percussion throughout. Showing his dedication, Boakye arrived at the show just a couple hours after catching a plane back to Toronto from Ghana. As with Masaisai before them, this started with the band's more relaxed side, but the set was carefully constructed so that it built up in tempo and intensity as it went along, all of it in one non-stop whir, as usual segueing from one song to the next without respite. And, of course, with the supple guitar stylings of Pa Joe throughout, making the set such a treat to listen to. Underlying it was Kofi Ackah on drums and Ebenezer Agyekum on bass — two musicians who not only play with unrelenting, groovy skill, but are also both great entertainers on the stage, always playing with smiling energy. One of the local favourites of this blog, the thirty minutes from Afrafranto was delightful throughout.

Next up was Fojeba, the night's only group that I was fully unfamiliar with coming in. It turned out to be an excellent introduction. The band played punchy, upbeat music in the makossa and zouk styles1, keyed by Fojeba — the namesake and leader of the band — playing insistent rhythm guitar. Supported by horn players and a pair of backing vocalists, this was some excellent party music. There was no bass player at the outset, but in what appeared to be a totally spontaneous move Ebenezer Agyekum took the stage midway through the first song and joined in, remaining with the band for the rest of the set and playing fairly seamlessly with the rest of the band.

Introduced by Michael Stohr as a topical songwriter, Fojeba indeed presented the audience with a new song, "Tremblement de terre en Haiti", a quiet break in the midst of the more festive music, providing the audience with a reminder of the night's purpose. Most of the rest of the set, however, was punchy, spirited stuff. Definitely on my list to see again.

Listen to a track from this set here.

And then another short set before the stage switchover, this time from singer/guitarist Jacques Yams. Playing a similar, quick set to when I had seen him a few weeks previously, Yams' gentle voice and guitar style provided a welcome interlude between the bands. Playing to the night's theme, he also sang an appeal for everyone to get involved with helping Haiti. He stayed for just a couple quick songs before giving the stage over.

It was now about 11:30, and the early, out-for-dinner crowd had largely melted away, leaving a smaller core of musical enthusiasts. But that also meant that there was plenty of elbow room to stand and perhaps dance around some, which a few people took advantage of as Adam Solomon & Tikisa led off the final segment of the evening. Solomon, known as "The Professor", plays guitar with a natural ease, notes pouring off like water rippling over stones in a creek. I was especially looking forward to this set, never having seen Solomon playing with his own band.2 It was, I was told after, another improvised lineup, with Colin Campbell, usually on rhythm guitar, filling in on bass. But it sounded fabulous regardless, the music groovy and unforced, creating a rhythm that would make it hard to stay sitting down — especially when Pa Joe joined in on the second number. As it turned out, the band played only a short set, just two longer songs stretching out to about twenty minutes, very much creating a "leave 'em wanting more" sort of taste in my mouth.

Listen to a track from this set here.

On the other hand, that meant we'd be moving along to the night's highlight all the quicker. In this configuration of African Guitar Summit Pa Joe and Adam Solomon were joined by Madagascar Slim to form an impressive front line. The latter would lead off the set with his "Salama", which was followed by Pa Joe's "Obaa Y Ewa". It goes without saying that there were guitar fireworks aplenty, in the main provided by Pa Joe and Madagascar Slim playing off each other. Although Adam Solomon would add a third level of interplay for one song, he spent more time on percussion and vocals, including leading on his "Pesa Ni u Funguo". Playing for an action-packed half-hour, there were some simply sublime moments.

Although it was a work night, yes, and bloody cold out, it's mildly surprising that a show of this calibre wasn't playing to a packed house, but the chance to see something like this in such an intimate and relaxed environment made it all the more of a special occasion for me.

Listen to a track from this set here.

Just a reminder: although we move so quickly through the "news cycle" on to the next thing and the next thing, it is important for us to remember that the unimaginable misery caused by the earthquake in Haiti is real and ongoing. A donation sent off here and a benefit concert attended there are all well and good, but there's a profound need for us to remain mindful that the task of rebuilding is just starting, and the "disaster fatigue" and short attention spans of the world's privileged cannot be an excuse for us to fail in our obligation to continue to support Haiti and its people.

1 The latter style, originating in the French West Indies, and being played by a musician originally from Cameroon served to illustrate the strong cross-cultural bond that provided the impetus for this show.

2 Solomon, along with Tikisa percussionist Nancy Barrett also deserve praise for putting this show together.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Recording: Whippoorwill

Artist: Whippoorwill

Song: Oh, Lonesome Me (Don Gibson cover)

Recorded at The Garrison, February 23, 2010.

Whippoorwill - Oh, Lonesome Me

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Luxury Pond

Artist: Luxury Pond

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison, February 23, 2010.

Luxury Pond - unknown

My notes for this set can be found here.

* Does anyone know the title of this one? Please leave a comment!

Recording: Canadian Wildlife

Artist: Canadian Wildlife

Song: unknown*

Recorded at The Garrison, February 23, 2010.

Canadian Wildlife - unknown

My notes for this set can be found here.

* Does anyone know the title of this one? Please leave a comment!

Gig: Whippoorwill

Whippoorwill (Luxury Pond / Canadian Wildlife)

The Garrison. Tuesday, February 23, 2010.

Sometimes it feels like the musicians you admire are very distant from you, but sometimes they're right there. Like at this show, when I walked in and Ohbijou's Casey Macija was working the door. No surprise, I suppose, as she was the one who had put this gig together as one of her "Heavy Vessel" shows. I was a bit apprehensive about heading out to The Garrison for a "quiet" type of show, but it turned out that the Tuesday night seemed to draw an audience out to pay attention to the musicians, not to drink and stand around talking to their friends. In fact, the only noise that generally competed with the sounds from the stage was the noise of the furnace kicking in — nothing to complain about, in other words.

This night was was billed as the proper debut of Jenny Mecija's Canadian Wildlife project — although there was a brief preview at the Friends in Bellwoods 2 release party1 last year. As with at that show, she led off with a wonderful, sigh-inducing tune invoking images of hand-holding walks and such subjects. Mecija, a veteran of many shows in her capacity as a member of Ohbijou, was still a little nervous to be at the centre of attention. Her songs are good enough that she need not fear any adverse reaction from the audience, though, and in the meantime, she got by with a little help from her friends. The songs all centred around Mecija's keyboard, but the sound was filled out with her sister Casey on guitar and Leon Taheny (of Germans) on bass. Even with the extra players, the songs were still strikingly spare, fragile things. The t-shirt slogan for this project could be "move slow", but it's an amazingly lovely kind of slowness that hit me in just the right way. The brief, five-song set included "Winter's Moon", plus a cover of Forest City Lover's "Waiting By The Fence" and certainly left me with an appetite for more.2

Listen to a track from this set here.

With the room still filled with between-set chatter, Dan Goldman eased from tuning up right into his first selection, and slowly, over a minute or so, most of the crowd quieted down and played attention. Luxury Pond is definitely Goldman's creature, and is sometimes — as on this night — a straight-up solo act, but sometimes expandable beyond that. I had seen him in action previously backing up his partner Daniela Gesundheit (known for her own solo/not-solo project Snowblink), who was front and centre in the small crowd, taking in the performance. Playing seated, his tunes were stripped down to the rudiments of voice and guitar, but the music was neither spare not entirely straightforward. Nimble guitar technique and a mellow vocal approach somewhat masked the fact that although this had the form of the standard-issue confessional singer/songwriter, Goldman was a bit more oblique in his lyrical content — not too much to lose the audience in abstraction, but enough to fit in with the reverb his voice was wrapped in. Simple but effective stuff.

Listen to a track from this set here.

Whippoorwill3, the evening's headliners, is the vehicle for the pure country and western sounds of Sylvie Smith. Oft-seen on stage around town as a member of The Magic and Evening Hymns, if you wanted to wanted to judge her own thing by the company she keeps, then you should know the setlist included covers by Merle Haggard, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings. But this is no casual karaoke-styled affair — the talented band4 was very well-rehearsed, leading off with an instrumental before Smith came on to sing "The Race Is On". Besides her excellent voice — she hit "Oh, Lonesome Me" just right — she exhibited a warm and friendly presence on stage, with the first string of songs a rockin' good time.

For a change of pace, The band essayed "Not In Nottingham" from Disney's animated version of Robin Hood. Definitely a song that I hadn't thought about for decades, but it was one I knew well — I must have been at just the right age for one the re-issues of that film, as I remember seeing that one a lot during elementary school movie days and the like. I never actually really put it together that the song is, in fact, written and performed by Roger Miller — so it turns out it's bona fide after all.5

Introducing "On Our Own" Smith commented, "this is the only song that we play that I wrote — maybe we'll change that, or not." We can only hope that Smith is inspired, rather than daunted, by the quality of songs she's playing here, as this one measures up nicely, and its author should be encouraged in the strongest terms to give it some companions.6 That one was followed with another local touch, covering "East" by The Weather Station, showing Smith to be as much at home on a torch song as a honky-tonker.

After a couple drinkin' times, the set ended with the fightin' words of Loretta Lynn's "Fist City", but the call for an encore (led by Casey Mecija's shouts) brought the band out to finish things as they started, with an instrumental, the languorous strains of Santo & Johnny's "Sleep Walk" serenading us out into the night.

I must say, I'm curious to see where this project goes goes from here. As it is, this is really good stuff, but mix in a few more originals and this goes from "Wow, what a great fun-time band", to "these guys are serious contenders". But even as it is, totally worth checking out. And though I came hoping for a respectful crowd laying attention to some quiet music, Whippoorwill deserves some boisterous, whoop-it-up crowds to get them ready for the Oprey or Gruene Hall.

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 "Winter's Moon", the only officially released track from this project so far, is one of the highlights of that comp.

2 During his own set, Dan Goldman would praise the "cotton ball disco" of Mecija's final song, another flavour of softness lingering in her tunes.

3 Update: in the interest of clarity, I should note that this band is now known as The Pale Mornings.

4 With Sylvie Smith at the centre of attention, it's important not to overlook the musicians on stage with her:

Chris Stringer - Guitar

Alastair Miller - Guitar

John Dinsmore - Bass

James Bunton - Drums

Bunton, of course, plies his trade in Ohbijou. Stringer is one of those musician's musicians, a mean hand at understated country guitar. Dinsmore, on the double bass, was unknown to me, but looks to have worked with NQ Arbuckle.

5 In fact, we'd get a double shot of Roger Miller, with the boozier "Chug-A-Lug" also making an appearance later on.

6 It's interesting to ponder, I suppose, how we tend to have an aversion to artists playing more covers than originals, but there are certainly some role models worthy of admiration in the case at hand. With her voice well-suited for harmonies, and an apparent penchant for collaboration, the classic role model here would be Emmylou Harris — although a closer contemporary mixing a respectful approach to covers with some well-written originals might be Kelly Hogan.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gig: "Heavy Head Residency", Week 3

"Heavy Head Residency", Week 3. (Gentleman Reg / Sheezer / Dance Yourself to Death)

Drake Underground. Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

You can't keep me away, I guess. Despite having hit the first instalment of Gentleman Reg's Wednesday night "Regidency" at The Drake, here I was again, just a couple weeks on. It turned out to be quite a study in contrasts with that first go-round, ending up with an altogether different crowd and ambiance.

Leading off the night was Dance Yourself to Death. They were unknown to me, but the band brought along a large contingent of friends and admirers who filled up the area in front of the stage, dancing energetically throughout. With this enthusiastic (and slightly chatty) crowd in place right from the get-go, I knew this was going to have a different vibe than it was a couple weeks previous. The first song was a tight rocker, with "Can't Explain" power chords, the second a bit more of a dreamy, mid-tempo could-have-been John Hughes soundtrack number with Johnny Ryan's Korg set to Fairlight-styled sounds. Strong lead vox from bassist Jen Markowitz, showing off a warm contralto voice, up in front of the propulsive Maya Postepski on drums. Clearly a unit with a well-defined, well-thought-out aesthetic — one that would encompass a very 80's sound.1 Undoubtedly a talented band — just not entirely my thing. I wish 'em well and certainly wouldn't be surprised if they found themselves an even larger audience.

Having missed them on New Year's Eve, I was glad to have a chance to catch the second show of Sheezer, the local all-star "all-girl Weezer cover band"2 — sticking (with rigourous revisionism) to the first two albums. Starting off with Laura Barrett testing out a vetoed inspirational chant ("Weezer, theyzer, heezer, sheezer!") the band kicked off with "Tired of Sex", Robin Hatch (ex-Sports: The Band) handling the vox. Throughout the show there was a pass-the-mic approach to lead vocals, which worked to generally good effect3 Part of the fun of the "everybody knows these songs" element is that it's like a big singalong, which worked out well on "Undone - The Sweater Song" (which was presented complete with onstage party banter) and had pretty much everyone in the room joining in on the choruses. There was a pleasantly rough-around-the-edges feel to the whole thing, as if the band members were all at a party, and someone had dared them to jump up and bash out a few of these songs.

With pros like Dana Snell and Magali Meagher on hand, there were pop smarts aplenty on hand to know how to navigate this stuff. With the other members being known qualities, the real surprise here was Alysha Haugen, doing a fab job on lead guitar — anyone know where we can catch more from her? Rocking out in their uniform jeans and black shirts, the band was having a great time, laughing on stage, giddily thrilled that they had buttons to sell.

For me, I guess I had slightly mixed feelings about the whole affair. Fun, yes, but it just kinda felt like a lark. Frankly, I'd be ten times more excited to see these same five musicians playing some power pop confections of their own creation. Although, to be sure, when I related this concept to A. after the set, he gave me a look like I had the crazy plague, so it's clear that they're reaching some people with this that would otherwise probably not pay such close attention to them.

By now, the room was pretty much full and worked up into some excitement by the opening bands. As with the first of the Regidency shows, Reg emerged on his own to lead off with a solo track, which was buried a bit in the chatter. Things were on a more solid footing when the band came out and ripped into "Coastline", which did more to get the crowd's attention, including some loud hoots of approval from entertainer/man-about-town/mayoral candidate Keith Cole, who was on hand for the show — definitely someone who makes his boisterous presence felt when he's enjoying something. In tribute, Reg dedicated "Wild Heart" to him.

Meanwhile, a chance to see how the new material is developing and growing. "Make It Better" had certainly come along from a couple weeks previous and was sounding like a crackerjack. Another — called "Driving Truth"? — was sharp, too, with new wave-y keyboards from Kelly McMichael. After the new material, the band was joined again by Jess Tollefsen on some extra keybs, for the hits, including a driving "How We Exit" and the always-fabulous "We're in a Thunderstorm" to close out the main set.

More new material in the encore, including yet one more getting its debut. How exciting is it to see this rush of new material — and good new material at that — right up close like this? For me, that was even more of a thrill than "The Boyfriend Song" — the one that the crowd was waiting for. That one was good fun, too, of course, especially seeing the band throw themselves into it, especially during the Hidden Cameras-inspired "bring it down" section, everyone crouching right down to the floor as the song got quieter. Tollefson and Dave Meslin, on stage playing tambourine and throwing in their voices, ended up right on their backs before the song picked up again. A good end to the night, sending me away from the Regidency with a smile. Let's hope Reg does it all again next year.

1 They closed with a revealing cover of Londonbeat's "I've Been Thinking About You".

2 This is the band's own self-description from their myspace page. Under normal circumstances (unless looking at things on a macro level), I wouldn't think to comment on the gender make-up of a band, because how good/interesting an artist is doesn't depend on that. But given that we are all resolving to be thoughtful about how we are using language, I'm somewhat curious. Does the fact that the band is bringing it up — is making it fundamental to their shtick, in fact — put it "on the table"? Am I still better off to avoid the topic? It would seem to be the height of assumption for me to presume I know something that these smart, talented women don't — wouldn't me trying to hold them to a standard that they're eschewing be tantamount to accusing them of the crassest sort of false consciousness? Discussion, please.

3 Barrett, widely known as a helluva singer, came off a bit below her peak form in this setting. Maybe a touch less confident on bass than her usual instruments, she had to lean back a lot to keep an eye on her hands, which pulled her off the mic while singing. This should be self-correcting in time, though.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Download: Wavelength 500

Okay, a special treat. I've put together a compilation with a track from every set of all five nights of the Wavelength 500 festival. That's almost two-and-a-half hours of goodness. You can grab it here:

Wavelength 500 compilation

This is offered on a PWYC basis — payable the next time you go out and see any of these fine artists. Remember folks: 'pay what you can' doesn't mean 'the least you can get away with'. There's no culture without a material base.

If you download and listen to this, do please consider leaving a comment saying what you thought of it.

This compilation is offered in 256 kbps MP3. If anyone has an avid interest in a lossless version, send me an email.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recording: Mean Red Spiders

Artist: Mean Red Spiders

Song: Some Things

Recorded at The Garrison (Wavelength 500 – Night 5), February 14, 2010.

Mean Red Spiders - Some Things

My notes for this gig can be found here.

Recording: Neck

Artist: Neck

Song: At the Same Time

Recorded at The Garrison (Wavelength 500 – Night 5), February 14, 2010.

Neck - At the Same Time

My notes for this gig can be found here.

Gig: Wavelength 500 (night 5)

Gig: Wavelength 500 (night 5) (feat. Kids on TV, The Barcelona Pavilion, Mean Red Spiders, Neck, Boars plus Thomas, Owen Pallett and The Hidden Cameras)

The Garrison. Sunday, February 14, 2010.

The grand finale of the Wavelength 500 celebrations was the only pay-what-you-can, no tickets up front night of the bunch. And though I had my wristband to guarantee my entry, I figured there'd be an early rush, so I was waiting in line a bit before doors opened. With a busy night in the offing, I didn't want to be stuck waiting outside with the first act on stage, though I was mildly cynical that things would start on time. In fact, just as I was pronouncing that to the folks I was chatting with, Doc Pickles took the stage, right on the tick, to get things going. That's okay — no one like a Cassandra, right?

Pronouncing "we're gonna kick off the Olympiad of indie rock tonight", Duncan inaugurated a torch run, inveighing someone in the back to grab a bar candle to carry overhead to the stage, so it could be passed around the room.

And then we were into Boars, the night's first act. Although a relatively new band, the duo of Alex Durlak and Damian Valles have played their part in the Wavelength saga as members of volume rockers I Can Put My Arm Back On You Can't.1 The set started with a rising ambient wave that coasted for a couple minutes before a mean rock groove kicked in that worked up to a controlled — but not mannered — racket. With a table full of electronics to shape his sounds, Durlak sometimes sounded like Roger Miller and Martin Swope sharing one body. Meanwhile, Valles' pounding insistence kept the all-instrumental songs moving fairly fluidly under Durlak's brooding post-hardcore-ish guitar. Though not fast-moving, this was engaging live stuff, with a nice tension between the "played" and "shaped" guitar tones.

And then, as a sort of bookend to the weekly series, the next pair of bands were the same ones that had played at the very first Wavelength. "One of the reasons we started Wavelength was so people could go to Neck and Mean Red Spiders shows," explained Doc Pickles. His description of Neck2 as being "like Burt Bacharach fucking Deathtöngue"3 turned out to be somewhat apt, as the band did reveal a musical compromise of catchy and rough textures. There was a pop sensibility at play here, though one that acknowledged the historic import of Hüsker Dü's power-chord ethos. It made for a pleasant surprise, like discovering a time-capsule filled with unheard early 90's alt.rock classics. The short, melodic songs lasted no longer than required to make their point, and the band reeled off fifteen of them in their half hour. They were mostly powered by Dave Rodgers' slightly yelpy vox, though a couple were sung by Andrew McAllister.4 The band was well-rehearsed5 and seemed to generate quite a thrill from those who were there the last time around — not in the least Doc Pickles, who shouted off titles between songs and got to leap up to throw in some backing vox towards the end.

Listen to a track from this set here.

With a more continuous (though not uninterrupted) existence since that first Wavelength, Mean Red Spiders6 took to the stage, opening with the lengthier "Places You Call Home", the title cut from their '98 album which, just maybe, they performed at WL1. That led to a series of shorter songs like "iiieves cove" (with some abrasive sax) and "I Am The Sea" (the title track from their still-forthcoming new album). And though MRS have a repertoire of good songs, their live sets are more focused on their overall immersive sound — an aural bath of noise, as if the band had thought things through and realized there's no problem that couldn't be solved with an additional layer of steel-wool guitar. And the music does seem to be rigourously thought through and carefully constructed. But though that might be an indication of staid fogeyism7 the band is not going gently into the night. In fact, the set was certifiably Loud (in the sense that the music physically shakes you up a bit), with the guitars all piling up like blankets on Lisa Nighswander's vocals.8 The set finished with a lengthy excursion through "Azimuth of Panama", the whole being a hazy stagger of a good time.9

Listen to a track from this set here.

Barcelona Pavilion presented an interesting shift in the tone of the night's celebrations. Unlike the previous two bands, whose ethos was reflected in the very creation of Wavelength, BP came partially out of the creative ferment that the series engendered. Bursting out of the early aughts' "Torontopian" spirit, the band arose out of pure DIY enthusiasm, fashioning themselves out of the elements at hand: a bass or two, beats played via iPod, and an interest in semiotics.

As Doc Pickles ambled through a monologue concerning the frequency of the vibrations of the stars and tomatoes growing in crystal pyramids ("I know that's awkward for all of you to think about," he comforted the crowd), he momentarily lost his train of thought and was interrupted by Steve Kado. "This is amazing," Duncan said, "it's like 2005." The crowd whooped and then, with sitcom precision, Kado and Maggie MacDonald replied, in unison, "it's more like 2003", as if this whole thing was running according to some strange script, or the performers were acting from some Torontopian muscle memory. This is, in fact, a difficult show to say anything substantive about, as there's a gigantic temptation to simply present a transcript of the band members' running banter. That banter, in fact, would take up no small percentage of the set's running time, but the very idea of a running meta-commentary of the show taking place was wholly compatible with everything else going on. In this case, singer/bassist/theorist Steve Kado10 missed no opportunity to reflect on the passage of time and his uneasy relationship to rock'n'roll nostalgia, noting, "this is the dinosaurs of rock outing... There is absolutely no development or improvement in any of our songs. We have not grown as musicians. Nothing has changed, except that we are now fat and old... Let's let the weepy theatrics start, then!"

And thus launched the set of rock as performance theatre, beginning with "Die Welt Ist Schlecht" and moving through pretty much everything in the band's brief catalogue. Other bassist Kat Gligorijevic's t-shirt read "Chaos reigns", but the band was relatively together — at least as much as they wanted to be — the music reflecting the creators' interest in the tensions between the 'amateur' versus the 'professional'. And, I suppose, between art and artlessness. Provoking the crowd is central to the band's raison d'être11, so it's no surprise that the centrepiece of the set was "How Are You People Going To Have Fun If None Of You People Ever Participate?" which is perhaps the band's most subtly nuanced provocation — does participation mean "shut and and dance", or are they telling you to stop watching, leave the venue and go start your own band?12

Amongst all the other self-reflective elements in the set was the sense from the stage that this was merely a lark, a revisitation of something that has been done, and is done with. In lieu of an encore — MacDonald asking, "do we even have any songs left?" — they simply played someone' else's song on the iPod, while MacDonald danced and sang along and Kado packed up his bass. And what did it all mean? It was quite fun, but to me — who hadn't been there the first time around — it wasn't the highly-charged emotional experience it looked to be for some.

Listen to a track from this set here.

Not counting secret special guests, the last band to play the Sunday night stage at Wavelength was Kids on TV, well-loved in these quarters. Easing into their set, the band started off with the slightly more sedate "We Are the New Keith Cole" before kicking into "Dazzler", and that basically broke the ice and got a good chunk of the crowd dancing. It certainly looked like some people who had no idea who KoTV were were starting to get into them. As always, the band put on a visually exciting show, with the ever-energetic Wolf bringing along a new supply of masks.

KoTV were a nice choice to end the "formal" portion of the night, as these indie-culture stalwarts represent a lot of what is good about Wavelength. And, in their ever-forward style, the band chose not to use this a chance to look back at the stuff they were playing last time they were at WL, back in '05, instead focusing on their newer material. This included the excellent "Dazzler" and "Poison", as well as the still very new "City of Night", perhaps the most new-wave-y thing they've done13, now complete with its own visual backing and sounding more confidently fleshed out than when last heard. Only with the last couple songs did they look back, ending on "Breakdance Hunx", complete with Maggie MacDonald taking the stage to drop a verse. As always, a real blast, and after a long night, revivifying stuff.

Getting set up while last call at the bar went out, Thomas took the stage for some after-hours jams. After the high-energy of Kids on TV, this was a quick and sudden slowdown, and at this point in the night, I was probably looking for something to keep my energy up. With the titular Thomas Gill — now also a sideman with Owen Pallett — trading vox with Felicity Williams, the band covered a Kim Burrell track, "Love is What You Do". With the God-y vibe and the very smooth delivery, it evoked those lite-rock bands that you sometimes flip by on the evangelical television shows — at one point I half expected a 1-800 number for a prayer line to flash in front of me. All the mellowness and flutes and whatnot also brought to mind, say, "Always" by Atlantic Starr. Really not my thing — this is a quiet storm that I'd probably rather stay inside and avoid.

It did set me to thinking though, about how this music fits in the little indie-rock bubble we were celebrating. If Wavelength was set up to give bands like Neck and Mean Red Spiders a place to play, that was partially because other avenues of getting music to people were clogged up by music that sounded a lot like what Thomas was playing here. On the other hand — and this is where it gets kinda interesting — to the extent that Wavelength was successful and helped move the aesthetic goalposts, as it were, then what Thomas is playing could be seen as a challenge to that new prevailing orthodoxy. Admittedly, I was finding that mulling this over in my head was more interesting than the music.

Meanwhile, Doc Pickles called up the whole Wavelength crew to the stage for an SNL moment/group hug. As is usually the case for Owen Pallett's very cool but complicated equipment, there were a lot of patch cords to plug in and so forth, so there were a few more moments before Pallett, now playing in his new duo format, was ready to go. Backed by Thomas Gill on drums and guitar, the pair played a short set of mostly Heartland material, starting with "Keep The Dog Quiet" and "The Great Elsewhere". After a nod to the past with "Many Lives → 49 MP", Pallett tipped his hand, noting "there's actually a secret secret guest waiting backstage, so bear with it." He called up Steve Kado to throw some guest vox down on "Independence is No Solution", a crowd pleaser that I'm guessing Pallett learned from Kado, who covered the song in his guise as The Blankett. True to form, Kado lent the song a more rough-hewn edge than it sounds with Pallett playing it on his own, but it certainly felt like a fitting pairing on this night.

And then, speaking of rough but right, Pallett said, "for the first time since 2003, we're going to have the Hidden Cameras play with the lineup from that beautiful era that brought us all together." And so, in lieu of an encore, a family reunion of sorts, with a large number of current and past members of The Hidden Cameras taking the stage.15

Once everything was ready to go, the mass of people on stage launched into a ragged version of "I Believe in the Good of Life". There were indeed quite a few alumni of the '03 version of the Cameras — I noted Magali Meagher, Lex Vaughn, and Gentleman Reg up there, plus some friends like Kevin Drew. And soon, folks from the audience were getting pulled up on to the stage to dance, crowding it still further and adding a hint of chaos to the music. The vocals were unbalanced, and things were getting unplugged here and there, and I'm guessing the band couldn't hear what they were playing very well, but it was pretty fantastic nonetheless. And I could think of no better song to sum it all up.

With the staff eager to clear out the room, just time for one last outro from Doc Pickles, once more telling the members of the crowd that it was their turn to start a band and get themselves on stage16, and wound his way around to close with the cautionary, "but don't worry... for the next decade, you'll have Jian Ghomeshi," before hopping off the stage. He happened to land right next to where I was standing, and noted brightly, to the general vicinity, "What a way to go out!"

1 Beyond playing music, Durlak is also an asset to local music fans through his proprietorship of Standard Form publishing, purveyors of many of the finest CD packages around — a blessing to those who still enjoy having a well-hewn physical thing to contain their music.

2 Neck were/are also known as Christiana, essentially changing their name along with a lineup shift in 1999. Although the players for this reunion show (featuring Jonny Dovercourt on bass) corresponds to the Christiana-era lineup, they were generally referred to by all involved as Neck. You can sort this out further on the band's chronologically divided myspace pages, referred to as 'neckchristiana' and 'christiananeck'

3 Though a cover of "Let's Run Over Lionel Richie With a Tank" was not included, sadly.

4 Extending the past to the present day, McAllister and Christiana drummer Paul Boddum now ply their trade in the group Soft Copy, who have just put out the well-reviewed Vicious Modernism and are said to be well-worth checking out, and those wanting to do so will have a chance on April 9th at Teranga.

5 And in a sure sign that these guys are older, more together types, they brought to the stage a crisply-printed setlist pulled from a laser printer — not just some fragments of titles scrawled on the back of a random scrap of paper. With luck, the organizational advantages of maturity will keep us in the game against the scrappy youths nipping at our heels.

6 I tried to consider their historical import the last time I saw 'em.

7 During the set, guitarist Greg Chambers said, "someone has to pick up the torch and start a new Wavelength. Keep it young — forget about us old guys and start again."

8 Within the band's deliberately murky mix, the sax was perhaps a bit too much on top of everything else, cutting cleanly like a scalpel while all the other sonic elements worked more like a lead pipe wrapped in velvet.

9 MRS are always worth checking out, and look to have a show coming up on April 2nd at Rivoli.

10 Kado, previously omnipresent at local independent culture events, is now located in California doing grad work in the visual arts. In his time here, he was both a powerful instigator on the local scene — helping, for instance, to found the Blocks Record Club — while at the same time acting as an gadfly of self-criticism towards performers and audiences alike.

11 "Well, I noticed none of you guys were dancing all that hard either. And I know why — it's 'cause you're old now. Or you're too young to remember why this would have been fun before."

12 If my reaction to all of this were to be rendered as a New Yorker-style cartoon, it would show me standing in the crowd, head tilted, with a caption like, "Well, I think I'm participating —— but am I participating enough?"

13 Although the musical vibe here follows logically from the "original mix" of "Poison" (check it out on the Friends in Bellwoods 2 comp), which differers from the Siquemu remix that forms the basis of the live version, so maybe "City of Night", too, will also gain an extra dancefloor backbeat in time.

14 Because, frankly, busting out CCM tunes to the Garrison crowd is a sort of subtly audacious move.

15 Helping to kill time as everyone got set up, Dave Meslin, always one to dream of the fate of democracy, managed to get a pitch in for the Better Ballots initiative, citing his hopes that it could "do the same thing for politics that Wavelength did for music" — and replace the same old top 40 mentality with something fresher and more representative.

16 Which, I must confess, I have not done. But if there are any other practitioners of musical laienmalerei out there interested in working out some of the implications of the Vulgar Boatmen and Tom T. Hall, do drop me a line, and we can get prepared to entertain Doc Pickles at Wavelength 1000, which he promised would be held in SkyDome.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Recording: Constantines

Artist: Constantines

Song: Justice

Recorded at Wavelength 500 (night 4), SPK Polish Combatants Hall, February 13, 2010.

Constantines - Justice

My notes for this set can be found here.

Recording: Danger Bay

Artist: Danger Bay

Song: Pirates of Somalia

Recorded at Wavelength 500 (night 4), SPK Polish Combatants Hall, February 13, 2010.

Danger Bay - Pirates of Somalia

My notes for this set can be found here.

Gig: Wavelength 500 (night 4)

Gig: Wavelength 500 (night 4) (feat. Constantines, Rockets Red Glare, Donné Roberts, Picastro, Danger Bay)

SPK Polish Combatants Hall. Saturday, February 13, 2010.

Night four, inside the friendly bunker of the Polish Combatants Association hall, turned out to be less, um, adventurous than the previous couple nights. Which isn't a comment about the music on offer so much as the crowd and vibe which left the focus squarely on the bands. There was also a bit more of a sense that this show was celebrating the past more squarely than the first nights — but also of not being chained to it. Perhaps best expressed in a line I found scrawled in my notepad after the show, cribbed from the last band of the night: "time can be overcome."

leading off the night was Danger Bay. Not, prima facie a retro-minded selection — the band has just put out their first EP1 — but still a historically resonating one, as the band is the current musical project of Wavelength co-founder Jonny Dovercourt. Compared to the last time I saw 'em, I wouldn't say that the band has tightened up so much as become more deliberate in what kind of noise they want to create. To wit, Dovercourt's guitar was not so much sloppy as spatter-y, and similarly, the rhythm section is generating a sort of elegant but slovenly aggressiveness. Following that lead was vocalist Deirdre O'Sullivan, who, with a beer bottle in hand and wearing a homemade t-shirt reading "I ♥ SULTS" occupied the stage with a certain rock'n'roll menefreghismo, sauntering up to join the band as the set started and giving the impression that she could be doing this, or not. Some songs came in shorter bursts, which worked well, but equally enjoyable were the more extended instrumental passages, such as on "Pirates of Somalia". A half-dozen songs in twenty-minutes was short and sweet, but left a pleasant aftertaste.

Listen to a track from this set here.

Another usually forward-looking veteran taking the opportunity to look back a bit, Liz Hysen and her comrades in Picastro played a set that was largely focused on '07's Whore Luck. Perhaps that was down to the fact that current regulars Nick Storring (cello) and Brandon Valdivia (drums) were joined by Evan Clarke (guitar — and doing double-duty on the night), all of whom played on that album. Hysen's oft-grim and slowly creeping compositions aren't everyone's bag, and, indeed, the night's quietest set faced the loudest chatter from the floor. Unconcerned, the group turned in a very good set. The slow roil of "Hortur" sounded quite excellent, and set the table for some of the relatively more animated material such as "All Erase".

Like the cold from a prairie wind in winter, Hysen's songs get in your bones and linger, leaving you with a certain unsettled effect. Singular and uncompromising but not in-your-face, when in the mood for it I find Picastro's music to be particularly affecting and on this night it struck me just right. Good stuff.

An esteemed member of a different segment of Toronto's independent music scene than the one often found at Wavelength, Donné Roberts has helped bridge that gap just as he has done all his life. Madagascar-born and growing up in Russia, Roberts quickly became a notable figure in Canada's world music scene on his arrival here, eventually gaining notice for his work with the African Guitar Summit project. With a constantly evolving sound, his genre on this night might be summed up by the first title on his set list, "Afro Pow Wow", a product of his ongoing collaboration with First Nations musician Marc Nadjiwan, whose chants added a new dimension to Roberts' songs. The effect that this has had on his music can be heard in the difference in older, familiar material like "Wenge Yongo", which now has a dual lead vocal line with Nadjiwan adding an undertow to Roberts' brighter melody. The band was professionally tight although occasionally too smooth for my taste — with a trilling soprano sax, "Voromailala" didn't quite have the edge I was looking for, but moments like that were mostly outweighed by funkier fare. It's indisputable that Roberts is working on a pretty unique fusion of styles here, drawing out something that lies at the common heart of two different cultures. That, plus his virtuoso guitar skills (shown off here during the closer, an extended version of "Sadebake") show that Roberts is a talent to be reckoned with. And although this set was danceable and entertaining, it wasn't quite the flavour I was seeking on this night.

And then for what might have been the most hotly-anticipated set of the night, a reunion of Rockets Red Glare, a bright light of the local scene at the time of Wavelength's inception and defunct since '03. Before my time for paying attention to such things, I mostly vaguely knew the name as a "here's what happened on the last episode" kind of note in some articles about Feuermusik. Certainly a different sound than what one usually hears these days from Jeremy Strachan, here playing bass. Evan Clarke, back up on the stage after his turn with Picastro, was more aggressive here in his musical approach. Musically, call it what you will — post-hardcore, say — though in a dirge-y way. Songs generally featured a melodic bassline carried by Strachan, with Clarke's guitar — abrasive but not noisy — chopping against it, not needing squalls of feedback or distortion to make its point. Gus Weinkauf's drums were un-fussy, but had a bit of a shuffle when needed.

With Clarke's anguished, flattened sing-speak vocals, the music mostly connoted a sort of dread, or a sense of a cold, stark landscape. Fairly bleak stuff — "bury yourself" was a a typical lyrical sentiment in one song. Austere and dark, yet not necessarily grim to listen to, in that paradoxical emotional spell that music can cast — catharsis, I guess, to pull one over-used trope out of the bag. With expansive songs that you could wander around in, so to speak, it was bracing and exciting to hear, and though I have no point of comparison, the band was amazingly tight.

As to the benefits of having a reunion, there are always those boxes of CD's in the basement to get rid of: "we have some merchandise for sale," Strachan (who handled most of the banter) said, sounding somewhat bemused by that. Otherwise, for a band that lasted til '03, ending before the age of blogs and other contemporary memory enhancers, RRG mostly existed like a myth or urban legend, so a nice chance for them to, if nothing else, stake out their place in local music history a bit more firmly.

Listen to a track from this set here.

And finally, a different sort of retrospective set from the Constantines. With keyb player Will Kidman under the weather, the band took the opportunity to "play some old songs" as a four-piece. Given that, and the special occasion of the Wavelength show, the band decided to try a bit of a "Classic Albums Live" experiment and tackle their first album (2001's self-titled effort) in its entirety. Even with having dug through their back pages at their recent string of 10th Anniversary shows, this one had the feeling of being something a little different, and special. So although they'd tackled some of the mainstays of that album recently, it was cool to hear the tunes tumble over each other in sequence, played with a fair amount of fire (though Bry Webb's claims of "the songs used to be faster ten years ago" were to the contrary). Playing the whole album also means including tracks that you wouldn't imagine hearing much live, such as instrumental "The McKnight Life" or "To the Lullabies", which was treated like a bit of a skeleton in the closet although it was pulled off pretty well.2

Playing the album made for a tasty fifty minute set, and then the band came for an encore. Launching into a fiery "Young Lions" and then "Hotline Operator" had a big semi-moshy crowd worked up — I'm glad I wasn't on the side of the room where someone was spraying their beer around. Maybe just because it had been another lengthy night, but I was starting to feel worn down and definitely experiencing diminishing returns as the encore stretched out to an unexpected length, though this may have been my tiredness talking, as the band were playing the newer songs with the same intensity they'd exhibited through the main set, and seemed in a mood to play as much as they could, Webb telling the crowd, "I think we're just gonna keep playing 'til we get cut off". Frankly, I could have done with a couple songs less, as we were over the half-hour mark of the encore by the sixth or seventh song, but the final blast of "Nighttime/Anytime" gave me a nice feeling to go out on. The past is with us still — sometimes it's right there in front of you. Turn it up!

Listen to a track from this set here.

1 The band's recent Non-Canonical EP is a cassette-only release, of all things. Certain to raise an eyebrow in some quarters with its obsolescent-format-love, I must admit I have less of a problem with this than vinyl fetishism. Maybe perhaps because I came of age, musically, listening to cassettes, it brings a bit of a gleam to my eye, even if I don't particularly miss 'em all that much. I did pick a copy up at the merch table after the set and, truth be told, even if it came with a code to download the MP3's, I'm far more likely to listen to the cassette — I still have a Walkman in good shape that I pull out every once in a while to listen to something that I haven't been able to upgrade.

2 "This is a deep cut," Steve Lambke said before that one, to which Bryan Webb replied, "some might say too deep."

"I don't think we've played this in eight years — it's a whole lot of jibber jabber," Lambke noted.

After, Webb was self-critical: "Nothing Fugazi about that song," he said, self-mockingly. "Nothing at all."

"That's off our album Steady Diet of Nothing," Lambke deadpanned back.