Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Set up to disguise their meaning, but still light up the room.

The Sackville Music Hall was built in 1914-15, after a fire destroyed the original Victorian structure a couple of years prior. It was given the name of the Imperial Theatre, a name that stuck until 2004, when it was changed to differentiate from the theatre of the same name in Saint John.

The Music Hall sits hidden away on the upper level of Bridge Street, between apartments and above various shops. The entrance is unmarked, aside from a bulletin board and a bright yellow door, and even some people who have lived in Sackville all their lives, people I spoke with, had no idea this beautiful place exists.

The ceiling is falling in and the paint is peeling, and half of the entryway staircase is blocked off because it is broken and unstable, but every now and then there will be a concert, or an artistic presentation of some sort in there. In recent memory it has showcased concerts by Jenn Grant, Shotgun Jimmie, and the CFL Sessions, all in that beautiful musty space, the side door looking out over Main Street and pouring the music out across the town.

The latest installment of these shows was, on the 24th of July, just before the OK.Quoi?! arts festival kicked off, The Got to Get Got, one of my favourite bands from around these parts. I know I've raved about them on my blog before, but let me just get a little bit more out. The Got to Get Got, at one show I saw, were jokingly described as "Making the Band with Mark Mullane". Mark, formerly of North of America, is mostly responsible for bringing these people together, some from other established bands (The Just Barelys, Tomcat Combat, etc) and other folks to flesh it out. The sound, altogether, is beautiful. Mark and Eleanor King trade off vocals, and the instrumentation... holy mackerel. It is such a beautiful experience.

In any case! The show on the 24th was half concert and half practice session. Paul Henderson, formerly drummer for Shotgun & Jaybird and one of the chief Sappyfest organisers, was skateboarding around the floor of the music hall (wooden and chairless), while things were set up, and we sat on the floor. Cookies were shared, and the band began to play.

For a practice, and not having played together as a full band for a number of weeks, the band sounded phenomenal. At times it felt as though they would bring down more of the ceiling with the guitars, but these were balanced out, as always, by the downright beautiful string arrangements and remainder of the instrumentation. With "Peyton & Perry", I think, you get the best of both worlds, both live and on the record, with both Mark and Eleanor trading off on a gentle, strings-and-keys based half of the song, before the full band opens up about halfway through, making it impossible not to smile and sing along.

A highlight of the live show, though, is "Rare Rain" and, with the skies opened up just outside the door, fitting. The drumline to the song is fleshed out, Eleanor taking one of the toms from the kit and pounding out that main line. The energy level is so high, they all look like they're having such a wonderful time, and that rubs off on the crowd. There is a pair dancing around the music hall, from one end to the other, having the time of their lives. Everyone was, really. It was such a beautiful moment in concert-going. The perfect band for the perfect space and the perfect crowd. Oh, Sackville!

CW


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2 comments:

Harley_Quinn said...

Oh Sackville indeed. I wish I could have gone for that.
I like that it's right next to my apartment and I haven't been there yet.
I saw people, on the Sapyy-Thursday, smoking on a back fire escape, adjacent to my own. I assume they were at the hall for one reason or another.
Next time there is something going on there, we should go barbeque on my stairwell or something neat like that.

Harley_Quinn said...

Oh, also, link my blog on your blog. Bitch.