[Columbia Legacy 88697680571-S1 1959/2010]
[HQ 180 gram heavyweight audiophile vinyl]
This record was a gift from my wife, knowing that we both absolutely love every note contained within these grooves. The 180 gram vinyl sounds phenomenal, even on my basic stereo system.
What could I tell you about this Deserted Island Top 10 List, One Of The Best-Ever Jazz Records disc that you don't already know? I just love it. Love it, love it, love it.
Miles Davis, Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley, Paul Chambers, James Cobb, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly.
Blue In Green
That is all.
These guys. My goodness.
Many years ago - all the way back in SLCR #8 - I saw Big Sugar and they were way too loud for the venue. Alternate (and equally possible) history: I was a giant wimp. My ears hurt for three days after the show, and I wrote what would prove to be the most negative concert review in my long and storied history. "Mediocre music at head-flattening decibels," I said. "The lead singer was a real prick," I said. "The most annoying band in Canadian music history."
Okay, even acknowledging that it was written in an innocent, pre-Bieber era, that last one was ridiculously ridiculous. I was just in a bad mood. Regardless, one day's surly opinion was on the internet forever, and it proved to be very controversial. I got upwards of TWO negative emails from random web surfing Big Sugar fans. Sadly, all I saved for the ages was an exchange with Sexy Studmuffin (email@example.com), who - in between telling me about the sex that he has with ladies - said "Big Sugar is the only reason I ever read your boring web-hole. Don’t come to a Big Sugar show. WE DON’T WANT YOU THERE!"
Since he was kind enough to give me the gift of a wonderful quote I can put on the back of the concert review collection book that I will never actually put together, I assured him I would never go back to a Big Sugar show. And 14 years later, I went back on my word. I hope he can forgive me.
See, I never really hated those guys. I liked some songs of theirs before the concert, and I liked some of their newer songs after that night. It was just wrong show, wrong night, and while it left me with a bad impression, I really wondered what it would be like to see them again. They split up for some time, but when the inevitable reunion tour brought them to the casino, I knew I had to go. And I bought earplugs within minutes of ordering the tickets online. Not that I needed to - when the server brought us our drinks before she show, she warned us that it was going to be loud and earplugs were available at the merchandise table. I never went and looked, but if they were actual Big Sugar-branded earplugs, I'm a little sorry I didn't buy any.
The first time I saw Big Sugar was also my first time seeing Big Rude Jake, which made the whole evening a net positive no matter how much my ears hurt. This time, our opener took us all the way back to SLCR #7 and Wide Mouth Mason. Like Big Rude Jake, they became an instant favourite from the first time I saw them. Opening for Big Sugar would mark the eighth time I've seen them, and the first show since bassist Earl Pereira left the band, only to be replaced by... Big Sugar's Gordie Johnson. Convenient, that.
This is the part where I'd like to talk about how much I enjoyed Wide Mouth Mason's set. Instead, it's the part where I get to talk about how it was the weakest Wide Mouth Mason show I've ever seen and was enough to make me think that I'd skip them next time they're in town. And I'm not willing to pin all the blame on Gordie, either.
I knew we were in trouble when I listened to No Bad Days, the newest Wide Mouth Mason album. Actually, I knew it even before that, when I saw the album artwork - a top contender for the worst I've ever seen. I haven't had any luck finding a decent high-resolution copy online (haven't looked real hard, either), but Gordie and drummer Safwan Javed are shooting lasers out of their eyes at photoshopped graffiti. Meanwhile, if lead singer Shaun Verrault murdered the person who did... THAT to his hair, no jury would convict him. The only acceptable excuse for that hair is if you're wrestling on the Superstation and you want a blade job to show up well on camera.
Setting aside the aesthetics, I didn't care for the sound of the album either. It seemed like they'd given up on writing interesting songs and instead figured they could say anything as long as they tried to play all funky-like. I understand that, but it's not my thing. "I dare anyone to tell us it's not the best record we've ever made," said Verrault from the stage. Well, I'm here to tell you that... I pussed out entirely. I mean, I have no interest in starting a fight with the guy, you know? Instead, I'll hide behind the internet and say that No Bad Days wasn't all that good. That'll show him.
I will say that live, I enjoyed the new songs better than the old ones. I had no expectations for the new songs. The old songs, though, the ones I know and like, they were off. They all felt like they were being played too slowly, and not in a "stylistic choice" sort of way. Verrault, in particular, seemed a lot more interested in making guitar solo faces and poses than actually playing. So that was disappointing.
One brief intermission and I popped my earplugs in. Big Sugar (including Verrault and Javed) took the stage and launched into their first song. It sounded pretty good! Tentatively, I removed an earplug, and...
When I was a little kid, I saw a horror/suspense movie on Superchannel called Visiting Hours. It scared the tar out of me, so my dad liked to torment me by putting the movie on, or even just telling me that it was about to come on. About 25 years later, I saw that the movie was playing on TV. I had to tape it! I knew that it wouldn't be the same as it was when I was 8 (or thereabouts), but I had to watch it and see if it was even remotely scary to adult me. And I had my answer as soon as the opening credits made it to "also starring William Shatner." And this is as close as I can come to explaining the feeling I had when I took my earplugs out. All that fuss for THIS? It was pretty loud for a casino show, but that's not saying too much. But I suppose the band's lineup is different, they've all aged, and the casino probably doesn't lend itself well to playing as loud as you possibly can. At any rate, secure in the knowledge that my ears would be just fine, I left my earplugs out for the duration of the show.
It was an odd mix of people on stage. I looked over my old review, and I don't remember Gordie Johnson looking quite so much like a cross between Willie Nelson and Silent Bob. And I definitely don't remember the white guy with the dreadlocks singing in the faux-Jamaican accent. I don't know how I feel about this guy. I mean, he seemed really happy and I'm sure he's a nice guy. But to quote this weekend's Saturday Night Live (I knew writing this review two months late would pay off), "if there's such a thing as a loving form of racism, I think you've found it."
But having said all that, I thought Big Sugar was pretty decent. They played most of their hits and a selection of their new songs (I wonder if I can make a macro that will insert that sentence into every concert review I ever write) and I really don't feel like nitpicking any more than I already have. I enjoyed all the songs, the band is obviously very talented, and the crowd loved them. And they even brought their (pre-encore) broadcast day to a close with a rendition of O Canada, which was a nice touch. So yeah, me and Big Sugar, I think we're cool now. Not so sure that Wide Mouth Mason will feel the same, though.
Almost two months between concert and review. This is far and away a record. I know I've talked about giving up on these, but I was always planning on writing this - it's just that things happened. Me happened. I figured I was due for one of those "hey guys, I'm writing this in an airport, can you imagine, wow the future" reviews that feel like a first-time thing every time out. But then I wanted to do other things in the airports like... not write a review. And airplanes are just too snug for netbooks. And then I was in Hawaii and thought it would be neat to write one while relaxing on the deck, but instead I devoted my patio time to drinking drinks and doing crosswords which isn't nearly as lame as it sounds.
So. Arctic Monkeys. I vaguely remember that happening. I think the drive to Saskatoon was fine? I bet I had a bag of baked chips, or maybe some jerky. Oh! We got pitas before the show and they weren't great. HOT JOURNALISM. And I wonder why I quit blogging.
The Odeon was the Odeon. Crowded and hot, and drinks cost too much, and they carded me despite being tubby and grey-haired and 35. I won't lie, I was pretty delighted even though I know it was strictly a result of their "card everybody" policy. I'm old and in need of ego boosts, so I'll take it.
I never see anyone I know at these shows anymore. I guess I haven't lived in Saskatoon for almost a decade (also, see above re: old). Instead, Mika and I were left with a random selection of bros and hipsters. And for all the abuse that hipsters take, I have to say that they're far preferable to the bros. The hipsters dress like idiots, but at least they're generally interested in watching the show. They may deny it after the fact, but that's none of my concern. The bros are only there to get laid, so they just spend the whole time being loud and in my way and smelling up the joint with Axe body spray. Ladies can be hipsters, but what does one call a lady bro? "Sis" doesn't work.
When I think of lady hipsters, I think of Rosie the Riveter with giant stupid glasses saying "we could do it... I guess... or not, I mean, I was into that last year..." and it turns out that there's over a million Google hits for "Rosie the Riveter hipster" so maybe I should just keep my stupid ideas to myself because they're not nearly as clever as I think they are but we're already at the part where I talk about the bands and I never have much to say and how will I ever pad this out if I just keep on deleting sections for inconsequential reasons such as they're stupid and make me look dumb?
Speaking of, if you want a band that I have nothing to say about, it's the Smith Westerns! I know that I often say "they were a band" to describe a band that I have no opinion on, but man, if ever there was a "they were a band" band, it was the Smith Westerns. I remember being blown away at how little I felt about these guys. At no point did I ever like or dislike their music. I remember texting a friend and using some term like "aggressively forgettable" to describe them. I can't really describe their sound now, but I couldn't have done so five minutes after they were done playing either. I am sure there are people who love this band, and if you are one of them, good on ya. The only thing that stood out for me was how little stood out.
And then the Arctic Monkeys were really good, and then we drove back to Regina and went to sleep because we were super tired because we are old.
(uhh, crap, say something more)
I... took a video of I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor with my phone and it didn't really turn out but you can get the idea.
(nobody cares about that)
Okay. Well. They confirmed my suspicion that British bands really enjoy saying "Saskatoon" out loud.
(that's only funny to you)
We didn't order chicken fingers and we weren't joined by Xylon or Shiwala Jamal or Gaston The Clown, and if there was a midget in the mosh pit, nobody told me about it.
(those were references to reviews from 10 years ago, none of the people who'd understand are still reading these - have you ever noticed your inability to keep friends)
I don't know what you want, voice-in-my-parentheses/head. They played a bunch of songs I know, and I don't feel like listing them so I hope you are willing to take me at my word. But even better, the songs I didn't know were just as enjoyable. It was loud and mostly fast and fun and everyone seemed to have a fine ol' time. In fact, I'd say it was the best show of the year so far, and SPOILER neither Big Sugar nor The Tea Party come close to challenging them for that spot, and I say that despite the fact that the Tea Party show hasn't even happened yet.