Monday, March 16, 2009

Gig: No Shame matinée @ Trash Palace


No Shame & The MuseBox present Rural Alberta Advantage / Dinosaur Bones / Great Bloomers / Peachcake

Trash Palace. Saturday, March 14, 2009.

A blurb describing Peachcake as "Kids on TV for kids" was enough to get A. (fighting a cold) out to join me for this matinée. We headed down, knowing vaguely where we were going, and knew we'd found the gig when we saw a small crowd scuffling in an alley. Headed inside and took in the digs. I'd been to a flick at the Trash Palace before they'd moved to this spot, and this looked like a good fit for "the 11th best place to watch a film in Toronto". Given that this was an all-ages afternoon show/unofficial CMW event, there was a pretty good mix of types in the crowd: hung-over concert-goers, spectacularly cool teenagers1, parents, kids.


With no stage and the bands just occupying the floor at one end of the room, it was a fairly basic set up, almost more like a practice space, albeit one with a movie screen behind the band adding some visual flair to the proceedings.2 An ideal venue, really, for Peachcake, who were absolutely dedicated to blurring the lines between performer and audience. They were also right in that fuzzy zone between "band" and "art project" with a guitarist and keytarist supplementing a laptop with backing tracks, but putting the focus squarely on frontman Stefan Pruett, busting out like a Furry with a breakdancing jones, who wanted nothing more than spread the gospel of Awesomeness and make people move. Thus a great deal of dancing and leaping about, including an ill-advised monkey bar routine on the distinctively not-load-bearing overhead water pipes3. Liberal use was made of a pile of props, including a rainbow umbrella and a giant sheet made into a tent for everyone to dance under. Great fun for those willing to get into the participatory spirit of it and dance away, and totally amusing for the rest of us stick-in-the-muds. Musically, I don't know if they were all that great — I hardly remember the music — but they were entertaining as hell. Or as A. said, with his typical understatement afterwards: "You know what the problem with that was? It was just like every other show I've been to."


Things got more conventionally rock'n'roll after that, with Great Bloomers taking the floor, changing the vibe from queer exuberance to heartland earnest. Great Bloomers' style is probably closest to 80's roots-rock: a bit of country road dust, but without explicit twang.4 They were counterpointed by an old Slayer concert video playing on the screen behind them ("I got this from my uncle when I was in grade seven," said singer Lowell Sostomi), leading to some amusing banter between songs. The band was engaging, but not especially so — I have no gripes with them but their music didn't particularly hook me in.


Dinosaur Bones, somewhat to my surprise, did grab me more. What I might have merely dismissed as melodic modern rock (descended from British club bands playing as if they were British stadium bands) had some sort of slowly swirling undertow that I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps it was the fact the band could have made the songs anthemic, but went down a more interesting and textured path. I'm not quite sure, but I enjoyed them and would see them again to try and nail it down more.


Last up was the one known quantity in the show to me: The Rural Alberta Advantage. For a band that I dismissed sneeringly on first hearing them ("like Hayden with a distortion pedal," I'd sniffed) and had left halfway through their set the second time I saw them, it's rather surprising that something clicked when I gave them one more shot, taking them in last fall opening a gig for Ohbijou and The Acorn. That time, I liked them enough to leave the show with a copy of their Hometowns disc, and listening to the slightly more subtle touch on the album really sealed the deal. So although I'd seen them before, this was my first time going in expecting to, like, feel it. And indeed I did. The combination of melancholy lyrics, subtly propulsive rhythms and lovely movie-star calibre cheekbones mesmerised me for their half-hour.5 Wrapping up their setlist with a couple minutes left on the clock, the band stepped out in front of the microphones and closed with a hushed version of an (unreleased?) song called "Goodbye" that brought a tear to these crusty old eyes. Garnering tonnes of accolades, this band seems on the way up, so who knows if I'll see them in such close quarters again?


Overall, a really good show, and fantastic value for money. It's always nice to get out of the clubs to see a gig, so kudos are due to everyone who put this together. There should be more shows like this.

1 While on the one hand, I realize how awesome it is that there are shows like this to get the young generation up to speed, culturally speaking, at an early age, there's also the cranky part of me that feels it's completely unfair that the kids get to discover the good stuff without having to suffer through listening to Genesis and Toto and Men at Work first, like we had to back in my day.

2 Another excellent addition was a giant digital countdown timer behind the band, showing that the claim of "strict 30 minute sets" was no idle boast.

3 This led to some intervention from proprietor Stacey Case, who, overall, was very cool with the fact that a crowd of people were basically hanging out in his workspace. To me, what Mr. Case is doing at the Trash Palace is the absolute essence of "support for the arts", a genuine labour of love that will hopefully not go unrewarded.

4 Revealing cover song: The Band's "Look Out Cleveland".

5 Plus, given the nature video that was playing on the screen behind them, from now on whenever I see a closeup of a praying mantis eating the head of another bug, I'll always think of the RAA.


  1. Re: your complaining about the kids not having to suffer through Genesis. Don't you think that these unfortunate little bastards probably had to listen to Nickelback at all those school dances? We were spared that at least.

  2. The horror!

    I'd've thought that the laws that prevent us from sending children from working in coal mines would also be in effect for that kind of thing.