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Facts and Kermode

I’ve seen Colin McTaggart’s band Kermode a few times now. Does this make me a super fan? I don’t know, but it seems that they’ve played quite a few shows with other bands that I really like. In fact, the first time I met Colin was also the first time I saw Versa, the band I now play with. He of course was up on stage performing with the band. (Because really, where else would he be? I’ve lost count of the number of bands that Colin performs with.) The lineup in Kermode has changed every time I’ve seen them, but the band does a great job of pulling it together with all the changes. One of my favourite staples of Kermode’s set is their cover of “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” by the Talking Heads. Posted below is a video of the band playing that one. (Sorry for the crummy audio – totally my fault for standing so close to the speakers.)

 

 

Opening for Kermode was the Vancouver band Facts. I first heard of Facts through last year’s Peak Performance Project. Of the bands I hadn’t heard of before in the competition, they were the only ones I liked and found interesting. I was super excited when I learned that they would be playing this show, which just so happened to be their first show in Victoria. Hopefully they can make it back here for another show soon! Posted below are some videos I took during their set. You have no idea how super hard it was to stand still and not dance and ruin the video! Included are “Body Break”, “Retro Oceans”, and “Colourful Box”. Enjoy!

 

 

 

The start of my Record Store Day 2013 was… interesting. I got up at a time that is beyond early for any reasonable person and made the trek into town to be in line at Ditch Records just before 6 am. Yes, there’s a 6 am now. When I got there I was greeted by about 15 crazy people already in line who managed to drag themselves out of bed before I did. Whatever happened to the days of there being only a couple of crazies who showed up early to pick over the releases? Speaking of crazies, upon arrival to wait in line I was also greeted by four dudes who appeared to have kept the party going all night long. I think one of them mentioned something about being on mushrooms… What I do remember is that one of them hugged me and whispered to me that he “thought I was really cool and had been meaning to talk to me for a long time now”. Did I mention I had never seen this guy before in my life? Yeah, way to be creepy dude.

The creepy dudes eventually decided to take the party elsewhere and I got to retreat into a state of putting my earbuds in and ignoring everyone until the store opened. All in all I got a pretty good haul of the RSD releases I had my eye on. I managed to pick up The Hold Steady 7″ (thanks Tyson for snagging that one for me!), a Cake 7″, some Punch Brothers, Calexico, Cut Copy, Foals, and Walk the Moon (who I always confuse with Half Moon Run, who I also love). The only thing I missed out on was a copy of The Last Waltz, but that one was a bit too pricey for me, so it’s probably for the best. Back to keeping my eye out for a second hand copy it is. After having absolutely no budget for records the first three months of 2013, it was nice to splurge on some things I really wanted. (My bank account might disagree with me there.)

After some brunch, and a quick run home for a midday nap on the couch, it was back to Ditch for the live music portion of the day. We showed up just in time to catch the last bit of the set by the Chantrelles. I hadn’t had the chance to see this local soul revival band yet, but had heard a lot about them. Boy, do they ever deserve all the praise they get. Having a band of seven fit into a small record store and sound great and not overly loud without losing any of the energy is quite the feat. I highly recommend seeing them live if you can.

We closed out Record Store Day with some browsing of all the used records the Ditch staff had put out for the day (“I guess this is the year I buy all the albums by the Talking Heads..”) and a set from Hawk and Steel. Much like their show we had just seen the previous weekend, the guys played a great set. Posted below for your perusal are some videos of their RSD set. Included are “Love That I Need” (which sounds a *little* bit like a Forestry song I like), a new song I don’t know the name of, and “Carol”. Enjoy!

 

 

SATURDAY

War Child Lounge (the Atrium building)

11:30 Current Swell – As much as the whole west coast folk rock scene isn’t really my thing, I just can’t hate Current Swell. Their last few singles have really grown on me and it will be great to see them in an intimate setting.
12:00 Rich Aucoin – I’m intrigued to see what Rich has planned for the setting of the Atrium building.
12:30 Sloan – After almost 20 years of being a fan, I finally get to see Sloan! I don’t know what has stopped me every single time I’ve had the chance to see them, but my plans were foiled every single time.

Royal Athletic Park

1:15 Zerbin – That song “New Earth” of his that I hear on the Zone all the time is darn catchy. I’m looking forward to hearing what else Zerbin has in his catalog.
4:15 The Jezabels – Quite a few people have recommended the Jezabels to me, so I’m planning on checking them out.
5:45 Dan Mangan – I’ve seen Dan Mangan quite a few times and I love his latest album Oh Fortune. The band that he’s been playing with lately is just fantastic.
6.45 Sloan – There are so many Sloan songs I need to hear live, there is absolutely no way I’d be able to hear them all in this short 45 minute set. As long as “Underwhelmed” makes an appearance, I’ll be happy.
7:30 Cake – If you knew how many hours of my life I’ve spent listening to Cake, you’d probably be embarrassed for me. I’m pretty excited to see them live again.

Night Stages

10:30 The Jezabels @ Alix Goolden – On the off chance I don’t make it to the early part of the Royal Athletic Park activities on Saturday, you might find me here.
10:30 The Ruffled Feathers @ Wood Hall – A band from Vancouver that features a trumpet. At times they remind me of Beirut with an infusion of pop.
11:30 Jordan Klassen @ Wood Hall – Jordan is one of the top 20 in the Peak Performance Project this year. I missed his set at Rock of the Woods the other month so it will be great to see him.
11:30 Chixdiggit! @ Victoria Events Centre – It was a pretty big bummer when Chixdiggit had to cancel their show back in March due to a family emergency. This is going to be a great show and I’m looking forward to reliving some songs from my teen years.
12:30 Carmanah @ Wood Hall – Carmanah is a local band I’ve been meaning to check out and still haven’t got around to seeing. Unfortunately I think the Antlers are going to win out in this time slot, but if that show is full I’ll end up here.
12:30 The Antlers @ Alix Goolden – I can’t believe this, but I totally forgot that the Antlers are playing Rifflandia this year. Their latest album is fantastic. The last time slot on Saturday at the Alix Goolden ended up being my favourite set at last year’s festival so I have high hopes for the final Saturday slot this year.

SUNDAY

War Child Lounge (the Atrium building)

11:30 Hey Ocean! – You know, I don’t think I’ve seen a full set from Hey Ocean yet. That’s a travesty. This is where my wrongs will be righted.
12:00 Mother Mother – I guess it’s not Rifflandia unless Mother Mother plays. The intimate setting of the Atrium sounds like it will be a great place to see them.

Royal Athletic Park

12:30 The Archers – If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s super talented kids who are way younger than me and way more famous than I’ll ever be. The Archers are those kids. You should check them out.
2:00 Grand Analog – Grand Analog played Rifflandia two years and put on a great show. I hope he breaks out the kazoo again.
2:45 Current Swell – Current Swell played a great set at Rock the Shores the other month. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
5:00 Hey Ocean! – I really hope that it’s sunny this weekend because I can’t imagine listening to Hey Ocean! in anything other than sunny weather. Maybe they’ll bring summer back. Oh, and be sure to say hi to the flippy hair guitar player.
5:45 Reggie Watts – All you need to do to get excited to see Reggie Watts is watch his cover of Van Halen’s “Panama”. (You can find video of that here. Sorry for the stupid ad at the beginning of the video.)
7:30 Mother Mother – It will be pretty great to see Mother Mother close out the festival. Actually, I can’t think of an act that’s more perfect to have this time slot.

I put together a list like this last year and found it quite useful. It helped to get myself organized on which bands I wanted to see. Also, I have yet to make it through a year of Rifflandia without my phone battery dying at least one night, so this is a good way to tell friends where to find me when that happens again.

THURSDAY

Night Stages

8:30 Royal Canoe @ Alix Goolden – Royal Canoe put on one of the best shows I’ve been to this year. They have some really interesting music and their song “Bloodrush” is definitely one of my favourite tracks of 2012. Their music is pretty dancy so I don’t know how this is going to work at the Alix Goolden. Actually the whole lineup at the Alix Goolden on Thursday looks like it should have been in a different venue.

9:30 Data Romance @ Alix Goolden – I’m not too familiar with the duo of Data Romance, but I have heard a few projects that Ajay Bhattacharyya has drummed with. Based on that alone, I’m going to guess that Data Romance will be fantastic.

9:30 Northcote @ Metro Theatre – I had seen Northcote before, but when Matt Goud played a short set at the Acres of Lions house concert back in January I think the whole crowd fell in love with him. I’m not sure if Northcote will be with a full band or going the solo guitar route again, but it would be great to see the full band arrangement.

9:30 Portage and Main @ Wood Hall – Portage and Main were part of the Tracks On Tracks tour that the CBC put together earlier this summer. While I wasn’t able to join everyone on the train, I had the pleasure of seeing Portage and Main perform in a park in Toronto.

9:30 Bonehoof @ Victoria Events Centre – Bonehoof has been one busy band in the past year. The band consists of staff from the Fort Street Cafe and Ditch Records, two of my favourite places in Victoria, and they put on one great rock show. My band had the pleasure of performing before them at the Rock Of The Woods festival this year and I would definitely go see them again. The Thursday night 9:30pm slot seems like it’s going to be a tough choice. Bonehoof might just win for me.

10:30 The Matinee @ Wood Hall – Another band that was part of the CBC’s Tracks on Tracks this summer. I also got to see the Matinee play in a park in Toronto. A video of that afternoon can be found here.

11:30 Good For Grapes @ Wood Hall – I haven’t had the chance to see Good For Grapes yet, but so many of my friends have seen them perform in the past few months and not one of them has come back without a head over heels rave review for them.

11:30 Rich Aucoin @ Victoria Events Centre – People! You have three chances to see Rich Aucoin at Rifflandia this weekend. I would highly recommend that you not miss any of those chances. Hands down, Rich Aucoin has the best live act in Canada. I don’t know how his show is going to work in the Victoria Events Centre with all those tables in the way of the dance party that will surely break out, but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

12:30 Austra @ Alix Goolden – I saw Austra last year after they made the shortlist for the 2011 Polaris Prize. I can’t say that I was a fan when I walked into that show, I mostly went to see what all the fuss was about, but they totally won me over. The ladies in Austra have some mighty fine pipes and their singing talent blew me away.

FRIDAY

Royal Athletic Park

3:00 The Xylopholks – Here’s what the bio on the Rifflandia website says: “The Xylopholks are a dynamic group of musicians who mostly play novelty ragtime music from the 1920′s (featuring the xylophone!). They do so while wearing furry animal costumes.” Sounds good and weird to me.

3:30 Brasstronaut – If you’ve read any of my old blog entries, you’d probably know that Brasstronaut is one of my favourite bands. I can’t wait to hang out with my friends again.

4:15 Rich Aucoin – Once again, DO NOT MISS RICH AUCOIN IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO SEE HIM.

6:45 Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – I’m one of the whitest girls out there, and you could fill libraries with what I don’t know about hip hop. One of my friends is really into Macklemore though and has been talking him up for months. I’ve heard that a lot of his songs use a trumpet, so I’m sold.

7:30 The Flaming Lips – I’m guessing I don’t need to say anything about the Flaming Lips. They’re who I’m most looking forward to on Friday and I’m sure they’re who you’re most looking forward to as well.

Night Stages

8:30 The Wicks @ Metro Theatre – I first came across the Wicks at Rifllandia two years ago. I can’t believe I haven’t seen them since then and should probably fix that.

10:30 Snowblink @ Metro Theatre – Snowblink play some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. If you’re looking for a time slot to just sit and chill out, this would be it.

10:30 The Chantrelles @ Victoria Events Centre – I’ve heard nothing but good things about this local band. And they have a horn section? Sold.

12:30 Fucked Up @ Sugar Night Club – It took me a long time to get into Fucked Up. I only just started to appreciate them with their last album David Comes To Life, and it’s a really good one. I’ve heard rumours that Fucked Up might break up after their next album, so I wouldn’t miss what could be one of your last chances to see them live. Plus, what better way to end an evening than by getting sweaty, sweaty hugs from Damian Abraham?

Mike Edel started off the night with a set that was stripped down compared to what I was used to seeing from him. The theme of the night seemed to be “keep it simple” and Edel was joined by only three other musicians covering guitar/banjo, violin, and percussion. The short set contained the staples of “Two Of Us”, “Bottom Floor Apartment”, and “The Country Where I Came From”. Edel and company were fantastic as always.

The Archers were up next. They had the most elaborate set up of the evening with piano, guitar, bass, ukulele, cajone, bells, and a tiny bit of trumpet. I saw this young group at Rifflandia back in September, and while they were great back then they acted like seasoned pros now. The standout song for me was the opener “The Sun Will Rise”. (The song can be heard/bought on the band’s Bandcamp page.)  You can catch the Archers with Fir Cone and Steph Macpherson when they play my hometown of Sidney BC on April 21st 2012.

I admit: I didn’t do my homework before this show. I had no idea what to expect from Steven Page this night. Would he play alone or with a band? Would he focus on his new solo material? Would he play the old BNL favourites? If past experience has taught me anything, it’s that this is exactly how I should go into a concert. Things always seem to turn out great when I do this. This show was no exception.

Page was joined by Craig Northey of the Odds with Page on acoustic guitar and Northey switching between acoustic and electric for the night. The set started with Northey alone on stage playing one of his songs with Page making his entrance on melodica halfway through the song. From there the duo launched into a version of “Alternative Girlfriend” that made its way through “Someone Who’s Cool” before closing out where they started. (Confession: as soon as I learned that Craig Northey was playing that night I wanted to request “Someone Who’s Cool”, it’s one of my all time favourite songs. I’m so glad they played it, and that it came so early in the set too so I didn’t have to be one of those jerks who shout requests for songs not written by the headlining artist.) The remainder of the evening weaved its way through old Barenaked Ladies songs, new songs from Page’s solo albums, and a couple of songs written by Northey and the Odds. The duo received a few standing ovations that night, one came right after doing a song without the use of microphones. That is always such an amazing thing to hear done at the Alix Goolden Hall. The night finished with another one of my all time favourites, “Brian Wilson”.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this show will be one of the best I’ll see in 2012. If that prediction is wrong, I’m fine with that because it means I have an incredibly amazing year of music ahead of me. More pictures from the night are posted on the EhBSeasides Flickr page here.

Catching Up

Alright, it’s February already and I haven’t posted anything here since November. I could tell you that I’m in the last phase of my degree right now and that my time is consumed with research and writing up my results and giving talks about my research and teaching two very large classes. Instead I’m going to go with the cooler excuse:

Last year I made the change from just writing about music to getting out there and playing music. (Actually, I’ve been playing music for quite a few years, but last year I joined an honest to goodness real rock band.) I’m sure I’ve mentioned this here before, I play trumpet in the Victoria rock band Versa. The band has been crazy productive these past few months.

First, in December we released a video for our new song “Lantern Season”. The title of the song comes from the Dresden Codak comic Lantern Season. The video had a bout of popularity when Dresden Codak and a few other internet comic forums gave us a shout out. Thanks comic fans for taking the time to watch and give us some us some amazing feedback!

Then on January 4th, we released our new Common Things EP. The EP features a radio edit (more trumpet!) of our song “Common Things” that originally appeared on our 2010 album The Decline And Fall Of…. In addition we have three new songs (“Love In Idleness”, “Lantern Season”, and “Flew The Coup” ) and remix of “Common Things” done by our friend Olav (Colin Liseth). You can take a listen to the EP version of “Common Things” below and you can download the entire release for free from our website here.

Last week we played a show at Lucky Bar with local bands Small Town Villains and Bloody Wilma. Both bands were great and the evening was a ton of fun. We gave CDs away to audience members who could keep up with our crazy time changes while bustin’ a move. I’m happy to report that some people out there do in fact have rhythm. Thanks to everyone who came out to the show! Our friend Adam from Magmazing Music joined us that night and took some great video of our set. Hopefully we’ll have that posted somewhere soon for you to see. Our friend Meg of Meg Super Photography was also at the show and has some excellent photos of the evening posted here and here.

Next up Versa maybe has a new video in the works, and we have a show at the Cambie in Nanaimo on Saturday March 3rd, and an all ages show here in Victoria in April. So basically, a lot of fun things are happening that will keep me from posting here regularly!

Enough of the shameless plugs, hopefully I’ll get some new photos and songs posted here soon. …Is February too late to put up my “Best of 2011″ list?

I saw Dan Mangan play to a sold out crowd at the Alix Goolden Hall in Victoria the other day. (Update:  Because I forgot to mention it when I originally posted this, and because there’s been searches from people looking, the openers that night were The Crackling from Vancouver and The Daredevil Christopher Wright from Wisconsin. Both are great – check them out.) This was one of the best concerts I’ve seen this year. To convince you of that, I’ve posted some video from the evening below. You can find my photos from the night on my Flickr page here.

 

The Arkells are playing Sugar nightclub in Victoria (tonight) Saturday November 12th. Opening for them is Rich Aucoin. Be sure to arrive early – Rich puts on quite the live show.

This post marks a couple of firsts for EhBSeasides: it’s the first interview for us, and it’s the first contribution by a guest writer. My friend Lucas Kitchen had the chance to chat with Max Kerman of the Arkells back in October 2010. Part of this conversation was published in CFUV‘s magazine Renegade Radio. Here’s the full interview:

Lucas Kitchen: What drives you guys to tour so much?

Max Kerman: We connect most when we play the songs live, and we really enjoy playing live. We get a lot of joy being able to travel from city to city, and trying to win people over. The band is at its best when we’re playing live.

LK: What have you learned about touring across the country, about touring in general?

MK: There’s a good attitude within the band about how seriously we take touring, I mean we have fun doing it, but the reason we have fun doing it is because we take it seriously, and because we do everything in our power to make sure the show is good because if the show is good then we’re going to feel good. Touring in Canada especially, you’re out driving 8 hours a day between cities so its tough to show up to a venue and play a half ass show. It’s something we try never to do because what’s the point otherwise? If you’re gonna be hauling all your gear somewhere and show up and not take it seriously and not put on an energetic show, then there wouldn’t be any point in doing it. I think the one thing we’ve learned is that you have to take every show seriously and try your best
every night.

LK: What have you learned about the country from criss-crossing it so many times?

MK: I find we always end up fueling up in the same spots ’cause our gauge gets low at the same points on every trip. There’s a gas station in Chamberlain Saskatchewan (which is between Regina and Saskatoon) which we always fill up at. There’s little truck stops we become used to. We found out there is no reception between Sault St Marie and Thunder Bay which is like 10 hours and kinda strange for people used to having their cell phones on them at all times. We’ve found that even if its not snowing, the Rocky Mountains can be terrifying because of fog. We’ve had a couple of really frightening experiences going down the mountain between Kamloops and Kelowna and not being able to see anything. We’re probably better drivers now because we’re used to each land formation that the country has to offer. The prairies can be pretty easy, but they can also get really slippery on the roads.

We’ve also gotten better at occupying our time on the road, listening to a podcast or an audio book. The guys have computers out and get into their movies and TV shows. The first couple of tours everyone was really excited and just kinda anxious the whole time but now its like I don’t mind getting in the van for a long period of time because I know I can send some emails, watch a movie, read a book, stuff that I like doing anyways.

LK: Anywhere you haven’t been yet that you’d like to go?

MK: In Canada we’ve been basically everywhere except for PEI which I’d love to see. We got to tour America this past summer with Tokyo Police Club and that was a great experience, they’re one of our favourite bands. Just getting to see other places around the world is something the band allows us to do, so that’s just really the next step, getting to see other cool places.

LK: How important is Hamilton to the band?

MK: The band was formed here and it’s the band’s home. Everyone comes from places just outside of Hamilton but we met in Hamilton. The band’s become such an important part of our lives and Hamilton is such a big part of that.

LK: Does a band lose a little part of who it is if it’s forced to relocate?

MK: If a band loses its connection to where it’s been sleeping every night for the past 5 years it’s because they’re not sleeping there, it’s ’cause they’re on the road all the time, feeling a little lonely. I don’t think we’re at that point yet but I understand that bands don’t always have the same connection they once had to their home towns, just because the nature of being in a band is that you’re not at home. But that’s not a bad thing, it just shapes a man differently. Every band remembers their first gig and starting off playing awful shows and it’s one thing we haven’t forgotten. It feels like in recent memory that we were playing to nobody at the Casbah in Hamilton but still really liking it. It’s all part of the process of growing up as a band.

LK: I know that the band members all have degrees of one sort or another. What was the plan back then when you were at school, what were you thinking of doing when you were working towards those degrees? What would you have been doing if the band hadn’t popped up?

MK: I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that I’m smart enough to surround myself with people much smarter than me. That’s the only thing I really got going for me is that I pick the best and the brightest to hang out with. I don’t know exactly what I’d be doing. We all have our own interests, journalism is something I think of few of us might get involved with, Mike is a really excellent graphic designer, Dan could be at law school, Tim is a fantastic recording engineer – we record a lot of our demos with Tim – and everyone could have gone to grad school. Everyone would be keeping busy, I’m sure of that.

LK: Where does the band name, Arkells, originate?

MK: Mike and I lived on Arkell street. For a period of time we were called Charlemagne but then we got a cease and desist order from an American singer/songwriter. When we started working with Dine Alone Records we had to tell them our dirty little secret that someone else had the name. We had about half an hour to change it because there was a deadline we had to meet about the promotion of our EP and we didn’t realize it was coming up so soon, and it was like “oh we’re just heading off to the printer, what’s the new band name?” Arkells had been kicking around for a while ’cause it kinda sounded like a 60s doo wop group. We could never fully decide because changing your name is kind of a painful process, not everyone in a band will completely agree on a name ’cause it’s just too tricky. But with half an hour we had to make an executive decision and so that was what it was gonna be.

LK: You’ve always been a band that enjoys hanging out after the show and talking with fans. Do you think that connection with your fans is important to build?

MK: When it comes down to it, we’re the biggest fanboys of our favourite bands and we’ve been lucky enough to have some really good experiences with Canadian bands. We opened up for Cuff the Duke and they were super kind to us and treated us really well. I’ve seen Joel Plaskett who’s probably my favourite songwriter in Canada and I’d go to his shows and stick around and he’s just as charming in person as he is on stage. I think there’s a real humbleness that a lot of Canadian musicians share. The fact that people are paying 20 bucks to come out to a show and buying a shirt, the least we can do is come hang out a bit if people want to talk. We’re really happy to do it, and people get a kick out of it as well.

LK: Jackson Square came out just over 2 years ago now and we’ve heard some new stuff at your last concert, is there a new album in the works?

MK: Yeah we’re just in the process of figuring out who we’re gonna do it with and then hopefully we’ll be recording in January or February. We’ve been practicing a lot in the last few weeks and getting really excited about the new stuff. The new stuff has been super fun to play live and it’s going to be a little prettier I think. I’m really excited and can’t wait to show people when its finished.

LK: One more anecdote for Victoria:

MK: We’ve always been pretty aware of having to try our best when it comes to playing live. I remember the Waking Eyes tour when we played Victoria, we came off of a Vancouver show that went really well, and then the club that we were playing at in Victoria had bumped our show earlier, and we got these ticket counts and we hadn’t sold too many tickets. So the whole band was feeling kinda bummed out after coming off this high at the Vancouver show: here we are in Victoria, we haven’t sold that many tickets, the show’s been bumped early ’cause they wanna get a band in later that’s gonna bring in a lot of people. I remember the first three or four songs of that show I wasn’t even really looking up which is uncharacteristic for all of us not to be engaging with the crowd. And
then I looked up four songs in and a really nice crowd had formed and people were getting into the music. The show was going really well and I was kicking myself because
we came in with a really bad attitude and by the end of the show it ended up being a wicked show. It taught us a lesson about not really caring about anything other than
putting on a really good show. Since then we’ve said, alright guys, we gotta bring it no matter what.

Somebody made me feel a little guilty about not keeping up with my writing for Victoria Record Club, so this is my attempt to get back on track. I have quite a few months to catch up on, and I’ve tried to list all of my picks here to the best of my knowledge. Through the magic of Facebook I know I’ve got all the dates correct, but the specific tracks off a couple of albums might be missing.

Meeting #4: Tuesday March 22nd 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

Album: The Meligrove Band, Planets Conspire

Tracks Played: “Everyone’s A Winner” and “Feversleep”

This is one of my all time favourite front to back records. I’d give anything to see the Meligrove Band live. I’d especially give anything to see them perform this album in its entirety. The story of how I came into possession of this album is kind of interesting.

The Meligrove Band have have some kind of curse on their heads. Currently three albums into their career, the band has had one hell of a bumpy ride to get to where they are now. Just before the release of their second album Planets Conspire they were signed to V2 Records (the label Richard Branson founded after he sold Virgin Records to EMI). The band was set to receive some well deserved world-wide attention when the label suddenly “restructured” and dropped all the artists on their roster. While a setback like this would ruin your average group, the Meligrove Band persevered and released their third album, Shimmering Lights, in 2010.

It was while on tour to support this release that major disaster struck the band for a second time. Only a few dates into their December 2010 tour of the US, the band’s bus broke down and they were left stranded in Orlando, Florida. The band was forced to cancel the remainder of their US tour due to being thrown so far off the tour schedule, and then they were forced to cancel all their Canadian dates opening for Tokyo Police Club and the Arkells, as well as their European tour due to the financial burden of the mechanical costs.

I had a ticket to the Tokyo Police Club and Arkells show here in Victoria. I was pretty upset that I wouldn’t get the chance to finally see the Meligrove Band when I heard news of them being stranded. I was especially sad because at the time I was searching for a vinyl copy of Planets Conspire and I was planning on picking one up when they came to town. Since the record was released on a now defunct label, few copies of the vinyl were pressed and from what I’ve heard there’s no talk of a reissue. This wasn’t just an album I could order off the internet. Here’s where the magic of Facebook comes into play. One day the band posted on their Facebook page that they had unearthed some lost copies of Planets Conspire and that they would have them available at their bus repair fundraising show… in Toronto. I jumped on this news and sent a message to the band saying I was desperate for a copy and asked if they would be willing to ship a record out here. The bass player Michael Small emailed me back later that day, was super nice, and we worked out a deal via PayPal. Really, this was one of the most positive interactions I’ve ever had with a band.

Despite all the setbacks, the Meligrove Band is still working hard at making a go of it. Just a couple of days ago they posted on their Twitter feed “All done playing shows for 2011. Thanks everyone. Now we work on new songs. Tonight, though, we’ll go to the big @sheezer show in Toronto… “. They’re not quite out of the woods yet though. The band has the following message on their webpage:

“By now you probably know about the piles of money we lost fixing our bus and missing half a tour, stuck in Orlando for a week. This forced us to cancel Europe and US tours, including SXSW, and still threatens to for-real bankrupt us. So if you were thinking of grabbing some music and/or a t-shirt, today is the day. Or tomorrow, whenever. Thanks!!”

Want to help the band out? You can buy their merch here.

Also, here’s a great interview with the band about their bus misfortune.

 

Meeting #5: Tuesday May 3rd 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

This is the one meeting of Victoria Record Club that I’ve missed. I had a good excuse though: I was in Vancouver seeing the Pixies perform Doolittle in its entirety. When I asked Jeremy later what fun had transpired in my absence, he informed me that I didn’t miss much. The meeting was scheduled on the same night as a Canucks playoff game, and people had opted for sports instead of music. I guess the lesson learned from that night is that around these parts you have to schedule your record club meetings around hockey.

(I was lucky enough to see the Pixies perform again in Victoria two days later. You can find my photos from that night here.)

Meeting #6: Tuesday May 17th 2011 at Talk’s Cheap

Albums: PS I Love You, Starfield 7″ and PS I Love You and Diamond Rings, Leftovers 7″

Tracks played: “Butterflies and Boners” and “Leftovers”

The month of May gave the Victoria Record Club our quickest turnaround between meetings. There was a good reason: my friend, musician, author, and CBC radio host, Grant Lawrence was in town to promote his book Adventures In Solitude. (It’s a great book, I ended up reading it in a weekend because I couldn’t put it down. If interested, you can buy it here.) We invited Grant to join us while he was in town, and fortunately his schedule cooperated with the Canucks playoff schedule so we had a free day to meet with no hockey game to fret over.

I ended up bringing two 7″ records to the Record Club meeting this month. A couple of months earlier in March I saw Diamond Rings and PS I Love You perform at Sugar. I had seen Diamond Rings live before and knew how great his live show was, but I didn’t really know what to expect out of PS I Love You. The duo from Kingston Ontario released one of the best debuts I’ve heard in a while with their album Meet Me At The Muster Station. Listening to the album though, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the whole thing was created with just two musicians: Paul Saulnier on various guitars and Benjamin Nelson on drums. It instantly hit how great the duo was though when they opened their show at Sugar with “Butterflies and Boners” which has a pretty kickass finger tapped guitar solo. The band put out a 7″ with Diamond Rings in late 2010. This release included the song “Leftovers” which was a collaboration between the two groups. The show at Sugar ended with PS I Love You joining Diamond Rings on stage to perform this song. This was one of those great shows where I walked out being a much bigger fan of both bands.

Meeting #7

Ahh, the mysterious meeting #7. I searched all through my past Facebook events to see when this occurred. My conclusion: it never happened and we suck at keeping the numbers on our events straight. There you go kids, if you want to sound like you have street cred tell everyone that you were at the fabled Meeting #7 of Victoria Record Club.

Meeting #8: Wednesday July 6th 2011 at Smith’s Pub

Albums: Said The Whale, The Magician 7″ and Bruce Springsteen, Born In The USA and The Beatles, 1962-1966 and David Bowie, Changes One

Tracks played: “Camilo (The Magician)”, “Glory Days” and “Dancing In The Dark”, ???, ???

The Record Club decided to switch things up a bit this month and rather than meet at the record store, we ended up crashing Jeremy’s DJ night at Smith’s Pub. The pub was surprisingly empty when I showed up, even for it being a Wednesday night. Record Club basically ended up taking over the place which proved to be lots of fun. Jeremy brought a ton of his vinyl out that night and I remember there being some pretty great things that I wouldn’t mind having in my collection. (I clearly remembered there being a Smashing Pumpkins album I coveted.) I brought a bag of my selections from my collection out that night too and told DJ Jeremy to pick whatever he wanted to play out of there. By the end of the night I had a few spins from my collection on the stereo, including my Said The Whale 7″ that I picked up at their Rifflandia 2009 show and my Bruce Springsteen Born In The USA album that I’m pretty sure I picked up at a thrift store for only 50 cents.

One of my good friends, and a fellow music lover, David moved out to Ottawa recently to do his PhD. With the move came the need for him to downsize his record collection. Thanks to him I added quite a few classic albums to my collection. Actually, most of the good old albums I have are thanks to him. Two of discs added to my collection thanks to David were the greatest hits collections of The Beatles, 1962-1966, and David Bowie, Changes One. I remember these two records being on the stereo at one point near the end of our Smith’s night, but since it was the end of the evening I have no recollection of what songs were played. It was that good of a night.

Meeting #9: Sunday August 7th 2011 at Andrea’s backyard

Album: Crosby Stills Nash Young, Deja Vu

Tracks played: “Helpless” and “Woodstock”

Record Club switched things up again in August when member Andrea offered up her backyard for a Sunday afternoon BBQ. Dogs, children, beers, various meats for grilling, speakers, turntables, and records were brought and a good time was had by all. We ended up chatting until well past sunset.

I was a bit lazy with my selection this time around. I again decided to bring a bag with a few selections in it. Just around sunset when it came time for my turn to put something on the stereo though I told the other members to choose what they wanted to hear. They chose well and put on “Helpless” from my Crosby Stills Nash Young album Deja Vu. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the summer than to have drinks, friends, and Neil Young.

Meeting #10: Tuesday October 18th 2011 at Studio 16 1/2

Album: The Rural Alberta Advantage, Hometowns

Tracks Played: “The Deathbridge In Lethbridge” and “Don’t Haunt This Place”

I was getting a little worried about Record Club by the end of this summer. We had become nomads, having meetings wherever we could, be it bars or backyards. We also had just marked the one year anniversary of the first Record Club meeting. This was too young of an idea to let it die off. Luckily Chris, owner of Studio 16 1/2 in Fan Tan Alley, stepped up and offered his place for our get together this month. The space seemed to fit our style, I’m hoping we can make Record Club a somewhat regular thing again. This gathering of Record Club was notable for another reason: Jeremy and I finally managed to drag our friend Tyson out to join us. (I’m not really exaggerating with that, I had to drive him there and everything.)

The album I brought this month was Hometowns by The Rural Alberta Advantage. I picked this one up just a week or so before the Record Club meeting when Tyson and I made a trip out to Ditch Records. I was rummaging through the selection of used vinyl new to the store when I came across it. Hometowns got a lot of play on my stereo this summer and so my reaction to this find was “who in their right mind would get rid of an album like this??”. I knew I had to give it a good home.

The last time that The Rural Alberta Advantage passed through town I made the mistake of agreeing to cover for a sick friend who was supposed to teach a stats class the next morning at 8:30am. I made the difficult decision to be a responsible instructor and actually prepare for the lecture and get a good night’s sleep instead of seeing the show. I instantly regretted my choice when I walked in the next morning to see a student sitting front row and center, wearing a Rural Alberta Advantage t-shirt that he bought at the show. After the class was over I asked the student how the concert was. His reply: “It was great! I met the band and they signed my shirt and everything!”. He then turned around to show me the autographs on the back of his shirt. That’s what I get for acting like a responsible adult.

Arriving at the festival.

Finding a breakfast joint in town with less than an hour wait on the morning of Live At Squamish Day 2 proved to be a bit of a challenge and my group arrived just outside the festival grounds right as Brasstronaut took the stage. I could hear the opening song, Slow Knots, finish right as we made it through security. I was a little annoyed that I missed that song (which happens to be my favourite Brasstronaut song). Watching Bryan play trumpet and bells at the same time at the end of Slow Knots blows my mind every time. It had been a while since I had last seen the band play (almost a year, in fact), and they had written some new material since then. The band mentioned that they were heading to the studio soon to start recording their next album (I’m really looking forward to that release), and they played a couple of these new songs in their set. Two of these new songs, “Opportunity” and “Hollow Trees”, were released on EP just last month. You can get the Opportunity EP for free on the band’s website.

Up next on the Main Stage was Bend Sinister. This band needs to make it over to Vancouver Island again soon. They are one of the best live acts I’ve seen. Now that I think about it, I can’t even pinpoint what makes their shows so great. It’s not like they rely on any gimmicks (other than maybe Dan Moxon’s love of tie dye). They just have so much energy and the group is incredibly polished. I quickly learned from this set and Brasstronaut’s set that the theme of Live At Squamish Day 2 would be “we are working on new material, and here’s some of it”. The last update on the Bend Sinister website was back in July and it said that the band hopes to have some advance tracks from the new album out by the end of summer. Now that we’re halfway through fall, I can only hope that those tracks will appear any day now. I managed to get a couple of videos from Bend Sinister’s set, one is a new song (or at least, I think it’s new) that I don’t know the name of and the other is the song “CT” from their album Stories Of Brothers, Tales Of Lovers. (If you know the name of the mystery song, or can confirm that it’s a new one, please let me know!)

I left Bend Sinister’s set a bit early to catch the “mystery band” in the Live At Squamish lineup. Billed simply as “Panda Watch – a band from Vancouver”, this group drew quite the crowd. The members walked out on stage wearing panda heads, concealing their identities for as long as they could. OK, truth be told, with Twitter it wasn’t too much of a secret who this band was. Panda Watch turned out to be Said The Whale performing a set solely of new songs from their upcoming album. I really enjoyed what I heard from the group that day. The new songs show an evolution to their sound and I don’t know if it was because I was hearing them for the first time or what, but I think that the songs sounded more complex musically than what we’re used to hearing from Said The Whale. I wish I knew the names of the songs they performed, there was a couple that really stood out for me. One in particular that I liked was heavy with drums and seemed to have a bit of a prog rock influence. The new Said The Whale album is set to be released in March 2012, and it can’t come soon enough.

Panda Watch / Said The Whale

After Said The Whale earned thunderous cheers from the audience for their new material, I headed back to the Main Stage to see The Zolas. I’ve met Zach of the Zolas before and I’ve seen him perform with the Vancouver band Henry And The Nightcrawlers, but up until Live At Squamish I had always missed seeing the Zolas when they came to town. This is another band that needs to come to Victoria more often. (Fact: I say that about all bands I like, it just somehow seems like more opportunities are missed when the band is from somewhere as close as Vancouver.) The Zolas really brought their A game to their set. For the last song the band brought out their parents to join them singing backup and playing percussion. And of course it wouldn’t be a festival without members of We Are The City jumping on stage, and they were there too. (Seriously, who haven’t I seen We Are The City perform with?) The set closed with Zach pulling an epic rock star move by leaping off the bass drum (pictured below).

At this point in the festival I hit the wall. The Dudes always bring so much energy to their shows, but it was no match for my tiredness. I spent most of their set charging my phone and sitting down, but I did catch the last few songs. The most important thing I have to say about their set is “that’s a lot of beard”.

The Dudes

It’s a good thing I got a rest before Black Mountain. Otherwise, they might have destroyed me with their amazing rock and roll. Here’s how loud their set was: I could feel my sinus cavities vibrate. I’m always so torn when I see Black Mountain live. I love their music and watching Stephen McBean’s hair fly around is mesmerizing, but Amber Webber has the most subdued stage presence ever. The best part of their set for me, hands down, was “Let Spirits Ride”. It’s one of their strongest tracks on their latest release Wilderness Heart. Other than me internally yelling at Amber “why are you just standing there?!”, this was my favourite set from the entire festival.

As I mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of Metric. (I was obsessed with them ages ago, but it appears that I’ve moved on.) Metric’s sound is definitely suited to the large stage though and their hits sounded right at home over the huge speakers with an enormous crowd singing along. It was neat to see them play on both days of the festival. To see a stripped down set one day followed by the full Metric band the next was pretty cool. I’m glad they brought this unique experience to Squamish.

Like many people my age, one of the first CDs I bought was Weezer’s The Blue Album. While I haven’t enjoyed anything of theirs past The Green Album (OK, I might have also liked Maladroit, but that was where it stopped), I was still pretty excited to see Weezer perform. I saw Weezer in concert once before, way back in 2002 for the tour supporting Maladroit. The image I had in my head of the band performing live was frozen back at that concert so my initial reaction to their Live At Squamish set was “Holy crap! Since when did Rivers become such a rock star?!” There was such a difference between the shy awkward front man I saw almost ten years ago and the guy now who was running around on stage, jumping in the crowd to sing. I was relieved to see that their set heavily favoured their earlier material (excluding Pinkerton, of course) mixed with singles from their last few albums, and some really cool covers. One cover was Foster The People’s summer hit “Pumped Up Kicks”. The other cover they threw into their set was the one that really impressed me though – Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android”. Yes, they performed that six and a half minute epic and they totally pulled it off. (In my head I interpreted it as the band saying “Yes, we know we now write really horrible pop songs, but look at this – we still play difficult cool music!”. Well played Weezer, well played.) The set ended with all the members of the band gathered around the drum set wailing away.

Live At Squamish 2011 proved to be a lot of fun. My biggest complaints would be the few occasions that set start times deviated from the schedule and the generic festival food choices. The other annoyance was the video camera arm and stage hands on the main stage. They interfered with my sightlines more often than not, and I found that it really distracted from the performances. Those are all things I can deal with though, and Live At Squamish is definitely heading in the direction of doing more good than bad. I love that they book so many local acts, and the addition of the Green Couch stage this year was great. I also liked that the festival was moved away from the Labour Day long weekend. Travel (especially from Vancouver Island) is always a nightmare on a summer long weekend, and having the festival in the middle of August not only alleviated that travel stress, it provided another excuse to get out of the city during the summer. I’m looking forward to seeing what the Live At Squamish organizers have up their sleeves next year!

More of my photos from Day 2 can be found on my Flickr page.

Leaving the festival grounds.

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