Tag Archive: Said the Whale


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.

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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.

 

Well, sort of. This Saturday, July 23rd at 7pm PST, CBC BC will air the documentary Winning America which follows Vancouver band Said the Whale on their first ever US tour. (Sorry readers outside of BC. Word has it that if the first run ratings are high enough, the film will get a wider release. Encourage your BC friends to tune in!) Produced by Brent Hodge (CBC Radio 3) and Jon Siddall (CBC Radio 2) and directed by Hodge and Thomas Buchan (Battle Of The Bagpipes, Hope), this is the first documentary developed by CBC Radio 3. Watch as the band goes through the highs (playing SXSW, winning a Juno) and lows (having their gear stolen in Sacramento, dealing with the mustard lady of SXSW) of living the touring life, all in the attempt to put their day jobs behind them and make music a full time gig.

 

Well I guess it’s better late than never to get this up:

Though most of this week has been spent doing my listening homework for the Vancouver Folk Fest, I somehow managed to cram in a few shows last weekend. First up was the CD release party for Versa at the beautiful Alix Goolden Hall. Showing a bit of bad etiquette on my part, I ended up missing the first two openers and arrived just in time to catch a set by Les Monstres Terribles.

Les Monstres Terribles

In full disclosure, I’m friends with one of the members (heck I went to his wedding even) and I’ve had a drink or two with a few of the other members in the group. Don’t let my positive bias toward this band dissuade you though, back in March Les Monstres Terribles were voted the Most Welcome Addition to the Arts Scene at this year’s Monday Magazine M Awards.

The band pulled out all the stops for their first show at the Alix Goolden Hall. While the group normally consists of five core members, this set was backed by the Playing Dead Orchestra which consisted of a keyboardist, a brass section, a string section, and even a choir. The entire group of 15 or so musicians were decked out in black and white duds with white masks. Though the outfits were borderline gimmicky, the group looked pretty sharp all together.

Versa

After a quick intermission Versa took the stage. The whole evening was to celebrate the release of their sophomore album The Decline and Fall of…, which was included for free in the modest $10 admission. In all honesty I hadn’t heard of them prior to last week, but when I got a message from the fine folks at Ditch Records saying they had tickets to give away I entered my name into the draw on a whim. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I was one of the lucky winners, and more so when I discovered that Versa plays some pretty awesome music to boot. Without the slightest bit of exaggeration, I’m really tempted to say that they are one of my great musical finds this year. Though the dark lighting in the hall didn’t bode well for my photos, it set the perfect mood for the largely instrumental set that Versa unleashed on us. One highlight of the show for me was the encore performance of LCD Soundsystem’s hit All My Friends. The band invited all the other musicians on the bill as well as any audience members so inclined to join them on stage. The result was an amazing stage party of controlled chaos.

You can next see Les Monstres Terribles at the Solstice Cafe on Tuesday August 3rd (event details). Keep your eyes peeled for new shows from Versa to be announced soon. The full collection of photos from the evening can be found can be found on the EhBSeasides Flickr page here.

Right after the Versa CD release party I ran over to Sugar Nightclub to catch the Victoria stop of the Malahat Revue, which combined the musical forces of Jeremy Fisher, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas, and Aidan Knight. As what happens all too often at Sugar, the crowd that night was extremely rowdy. For some reason Said the Whale really brings out the drunk talkative types in Victoria. The girl behind me decided to scream to her friends throughout every single Hannah Georgas song. To the group’s credit they kept the set full of upbeat tunes that kept the crowd under control by jumping and singing along.

the Malahat Revue

On Sunday night I made the trip to Duncan to catch the Malahat Revue stop at the Duncan Garage Showroom. The vibe in Duncan was the total opposite of Victoria. The sold out crowd was so appreciative for the visit from the group. The night was broken up into two sets that rotated through songs from the catalogs of the four groups. When the second set wrapped up with Aidan Knight’s Jasper, the crowd leaped to their feet to dance and sing. The musicians were enthusiastically called back for an encore of a few more songs. The whole evening wrapped up with an unplugged unamplified rendition of Said the Whale’s Curse of the Currents. Even though I’ve seen Said the Whale a few times now, this was the first time I have heard Curse of the Currents live. It was perfect. I know that I wasn’t the only one in the audience with tears in my eyes by the end of that song.

The Duncan Garage Showroom provides a live video stream for all of their shows, so even if you are not planning a trip to Duncan any time soon you should definitely check out their webpage. While you do so, you can find the link for the archived stream of the Malahat Revue here.

There was a photography ban at the Victoria stop of the Malahat Revue, but you can check out the Flickr set from the Duncan show here.

The Malahat Revue

For close to the next two weeks BC-based artists Jeremy Fisher, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas, and Aidan Knight will be joining forces in quite the unique tour. Using only one van as a support vehicle, these musicians are jumping on their bikes, gear in tow, and pedaling their way through Vancouver, Saltspring Island, Pender Island, and Vancouver Island. While a tour by bike may be a bit out of the ordinary to some, Jeremy Fisher is no stranger to the concept. In 2001 he pedaled his way from Seattle to Halifax in support of his debut album. Dubbed “One Less Tourbus”, his travels covered more than 7500 km and took more than six months. When you look at it that way, this 500+ km trek is nothing more than a leisurely ride through the park!

In true Revue form, all the groups will be performing together as one band and playing selections from each other’s catalogs. The whole shebang kicked off yesterday with a surprise show outside the CBC building in downtown Vancouver. From there the bike caravan heads through Pender Island and Saltspring Island, to Victoria, and then winds its way up Vancouver Island. The whole thing comes full circle next Saturday when the musicians return to Vancouver to play the closing day of the Vancouver Folk Festival.

So if you’re in the area in the next few days, keep your eyes peeled for the cycling group of musicians, and if you’re heading to any of the shows, consider digging out the ol’ bike! Expect to see me at the Victoria, Duncan, and Vancouver (Folk Fest) shows.

Tour dates:

  • Wednesday July 7th: Vancouver BC @ the CBC Building
  • Thursday July 8th: Saltspring Island @ Artspring
  • Friday July 9th: Pender Island @ Pender Island Community Hall
  • Saturday July 10th: Victoria @ Organics Festival
  • Saturday July 10th: Victoria @ Sugar Nightclub
  • Sunday July 11th: Duncan @ Duncan Garage Showroom
  • Wednesday July 14th: Roberts Creek @ Roberts Creek Hall
  • Friday July 16th: Nanaimo @ Nanaimo Entertainment Centre
  • Sunday July 18th: Vancouver @ Vancouver Folk Fest