Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stereophonic, Day 5

all photo credit to vanessa blackier


The final day of Stereophonic 6, on Tuesday January 20th, was a nice night, a nice concert, but it definitely had its downsides. But it was wonderful and an adequate culmination of the wonderfuliciousness that was Stereophonic. Personally, I preferred Friday night's show at the Vogue, but this was another fantastic show. Two of the acts I'd seen before (though one of them not for years) and the third act has been intriguing me for some time, and I'm glad I got to see them. But oh, where do I begin?

My friend Neil, who has been to all of these shows with me, and has been a sounding board for some of my reviews, took ill last night, and as such left the concert early. This was a little bit of a bummer, but I latched on to other friends and still made the night worthwhile from a personal standpoint. And Ian's message on the Friday's Special blackboard was still there. The mind, I suppose, remains a powerful trick.

I was a little bit excited about the first band on the lineup; I saw them back at the Halloween show and enjoyed them more than I really know how to say. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a synthesizer and a pretty girl, but New Royalty are definitely more than just a synthesizer and a pretty girl! There are two pretty girls. I missed the beginning of their set at Halloween, but the earliosity with which I arrived to the show and the length of time before the show started, I caught the whole thing this time. They're a wonderful lot on stage, friendly and fun, encouraging dancing and clapping, and they're coming off a PEI Music Award win for Best Pop Recording of the Year. These kids have promise! And I hope they keep playing together in some form once they disperse--the one record is not enough! And gosh, it's a cute record. You have to get your hands on it at some point. It's a 5-song EP, home-packaged, and the liner notes are just adorable as anything. The EP is titled "Sleepover!", and what do we do at sleepovers? Do any of you remember those little paper whatsits I and at least a few others remember as cootie catchers? The liner notes are folded into one of these, with the lyrics written on the inside flaps. Adorable! And wonderfully danceable synth-driven pop-rock which you have to check out. If I haven't directed you before to their myspace, go there now! Apparently they'll be playing in Halifax on the 7th of February... so check that out, if you can! And pick up that adorable little award-winning EP of theirs! I have, and definitely am not regretting it. If you cats end up reading this, I am officially a huge fan.

But both I and that first band were eagerly anticipating the next two. First came Plants and Animals out of Montréal, who I first heard when their record came out to a whole lot of celebratory gunfire in the blogosphere. These boys put on one hell of an awesometastic set, I thought, given there were only three of them up there on the stage at any given time. But holy mackerel, the sound that the three of them could pump out! Absolutely amazing. It might have had something to do with the epic pedal setup this multi-instrumentalist of theirs' had going on at his feet. They played quite a bit from the album, and also a couple of new songs which might one day be heard on a future recording. It was lovely to see and hear so much of the crowd singing along to so many of the songs, and they knew them so much better than I did. I could belt out a couple of them but some of these guys seemed like right proper devoted fans. I like seeing that kind of crowd reaction one hell of a lot, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Near the end of the set, for Bye, Bye, Bye, one of them set down his guitar, or his bass, or whatever he had in his hands at the time and picked up an auto-harp. This made me smile more than the crowd. Autoharps > Happy people. It's just a fact of life. Autoharps, you see, they create happy people, and thus by this productive quality are greater than the things they produce. Except the sounds. Oh, don't listen to me! I'm making no sense. The crowd reaction to the band was so rad that they came out and did an encore of one of my favourite tracks from the album, Mercy. They had the whole crowd, even those who didn't know their music, shouting M-E-R! C-Y! M-E-R! C-Y! It was a beautiful moment in flu-season Sackville. But of course, the show was not yet over. There was more to come.

The last time I saw Wintersleep was in 2007, on their tour promoting the then new Welcome to the Night Sky record. The first time I saw them was in 2005, at a release show for their then new untitled 2005 record. In the years since my first Wintersleep show, the band has grown, has gained national fame, has won ECMAs and Juno awards, and has changed. I'm not sure if this change is for good or for ill, even though I'm a big fan of their first two records. I picked up a clear-vinyl pressing of their debut record that night, the record from 2003 that got me into the band. To be frank, I can't get into Welcome to the Night Sky. I've tried. I've tried dozens of times, I've listened to the album through a number of times, but it just doesn't stick like the noodles I used to throw against the wall when I was a wee one. Sadly, they relied mostly on this newest album for the material they played on Tuesday night. They played a few songs which I knew well, but Orca, which had been their most popular and successful track in the pre-Weighty Ghost era was missing entirely from the set. The main set did not disappoint me, though, as I was expecting an emphasis on new material, and they were awfully sloppy. I was awfully sloppy, myself, so I don't hold it against them. And my love for the band remains, because the encore they played felt like it could have been the show I went to in 2005. They played Sore, from their first record, which is one of my favourite cuts from that album, and they closed the show with a cover of Neil Young's Words (Between the Lines of Age). These two, feeling like old Wintersleep again, gave me hope that their upcoming record might sound at least something like their first two. My love for Wintersleep has not faded, no sir! If anything, this show has restored my faith in one of the most talented bands to come out of the Maritimes and on to national prominence in the last few years.

And with that, Stereophonic closed its pages for another year! And my focus can return to my studies. And keeping up this blog, of course. I have an announcement to make, regarding my eventual proliferation across media, but I shall wait until tomorrow.

Good day!

1 comment:

Cait said...

Regarding Wintersleep - most bands when they break out have amazing music to start, they have to in order to get the recognition they need. But once they've got public attention, they don't need to keep up the level of quality they had when they broke out. Unfortunately this means a great many bands have an amazing start and fade away into awful.

There's also the fact that touring takes them away from the places, people and events that inspired their music. Some bands can find new inspiration in new places, but if there's an emotional drive behind the music, it's sometimes difficult to find that emotional inspiration in a new place.

- UNLESS they're in Las Vegas.