Monday, March 24, 2008

Best Concerts

Townie Bastard recently asked some dangerous questions, which may threaten a mass exodus from the territory: What is the best concert you've ever seen? and, what was the first concert you went to?

Dangerous because, besides the White Stripes just before I got to town, there's a decided lack of bands who come through Iqaluit. And thinking of concerts may make some of us long for the south.

Kate Nova tagged me in this bloodsport, so here are my responses:

First Concert.
If you don't count Sharon, Lois and Braham when I was, like, six, I guess my first concert would have been Beck at the Opera House, when he was touring Mellow Gold, and people suspected he would be a one-hit wonder with "Loser." I didn't go to too many concerts in High School, since I didn't have many friends who liked the same "weird" music I did, but I managed to win free tickets listening to CFNY, and thus was able to convince someone to go with me.

Best Concert
I'm going to have some sub-categories here, because, damn, when I think about it, I've seen a whole bunch of really good shows that I can't help but mention. But if I have to settle on one show, I have to pick seeing Built to Spill, with Lonesome Crowded West - era Modest Mouse opening, playing at a club (whose name I don't remember) in London, England. I spent my last University-summer in London, and saw a lot of great shows (Godspeed You Black Emperor in an old gothic church, Man or Astroman on Canada Day after drinking all afternoon at the Maple Leaf Pub), but this show stands out, because it's the only time I've seen Built to Spill, a great band who almost never tour (I think they played Toronto for the first time about a year ago), and it turned me on to Modest Mouse (who I saw again in London at a small club later that summer). I was so into that show that, caught up in the moment in a half-joking and half-earnest-rockfan way, I shouted out "Rock Power." Much to the embarrassment of those around me.

However, there are many other concerts that are worth mentioning, so I'm gonna make up some sub-categories for best concert.

Weirdest concert moments.
During Ryan Adams' show at Lee's Palace while touring Gold, none other than Elton John came on stage during the encore. Apparently he's a fan. Other than that, it wasn't that memorable a show - although Adams' sit down solo acoustic show touring for his first solo album Heartbreaker was one of the best solo acoustic shows I've ever seen.
Runner up for weirdness would be when I lucked into catching Neko Case playing at the notorious Toronto after-hours boozecan the Matador. In attendance were many drunken folks there more to procure mickeys from the guy with a hockey bag full of booze than for the performance. Hilarity and great music ensued. Some of that show can be heard on her live album, The Tigers Have Spoken.

Loudest, rockingest rock show
Hands down, this award goes to McLusky, an underappreciated Welsh band who I saw at the Horseshoe a couple of times. The first time I saw them play, the bass player, a tall, lanky red-head with a beard, wore a turquoise jump suit with a cape. My ears were bleeding with rock and roll joy by the end of the show. You should find their album McLusky Do Dallas and take your shirt off and rock out. (Actually, maybe you can keep your shirt on.) McLusky also win the award for best album titles (such as The Difference Between Me and You is that I'm Not on Fire, and My Pain and Sadness is more Sad and Painful that Yours)

Best show to dance like it's the 60's at.
Sharon Jones at the Dap-Kings. Seen 'em twice, the best being at a sweaty Horseshoe Tavern.

Most electric concert.
The Weakerthans at a free outdoor show at Harbourfront in T.O., where you could turn around while the band was playing and see lightning out over Lake Ontario.

Bands that I've seen a few times and are always great.
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (and his current band, Heavy Trash), Magnetic Fields, Wilco (and Jeff Tweedy solo at Trinity St. Paul's church), Luna, Yo La Tengo, Chixdiggit (most fun punk rock band on the planet), not to mention those countless small shows by local performers in bars throughout Toronto.


Kate Nova said...

I remember that Weakerthans show. I text-messaged you, but never actually saw you. I think you still thought you were too cool for me then. Or maybe I'm making this all up. I can't remember.

Anonymous said...

I think my first concert was to see Raffi. Thankfully I forgot about that when I was doing up a post on this topic.

Dooner said...

I don't think I ever went to go see Raffi as a wee one. We did, however, have many a Raffi record around the house, such as "Baby Beluga," and a Christmas one which was put on every year... "We fish you a Merry Christ-moose, and a hippo new year..."

Anonymous said...