Monday, September 27, 2010

The Will Always Negates Defeat

Based on a recommendation from my step-bro back in July, I went to see the Flaming Lips last night at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. Despite the apprehension I felt upon arrival - it's been a cold+rainy enough September already and the ground was pure mud in front of the stage - it turned out to be one of the best concerts I've ever seen.

Singer Wayne Coyne came out 5 minutes before they started and warned everyone that they had defied logic and set up very close to the edge of the stage, also giving the heads up that should it start to rain, they'd need to shut things down and move everything back. But already the night had that special feel, where we could just collectively will the bad weather away. Sure, why not - it worked. Their stage show was absolutely breathtaking, filled with confetti, streamers, giant balloons floating around through the crowd, and Wayne's signature 'space bubble' run across the crowd's heads. Won't even attempt to explain the various visuals depicted on the giant round screen, but suffice to say that the band members make their stage entrance by emerging out of a vagina.

Uh ... anyways, this song was the highlight for me:

Despite having seen them once before (a midnight Bonnaroo set 7 years ago, which I believe was the first time they decided to do Dark Side of the Moon, their most recent recorded output) I really didn't know much about them, so having Colter there with me helped in identifying songs I particularly liked - not that there was a single one I didn't like..

So anyways, coming home I was motivated to go back through my concert stub collection and put together my top 10, as I knew this would certainly be up there. It wound up making #3.

10. Dave Matthews Band w/Bela Fleck & The Flecktones - April 20th 2002,Corel Centre, Ottawa, ON
Although I've lost interest in DMB since then, the treat of seeing them come out for the encore with all 10 members of both bands, and play a 35min. version of #41 will always stay special memory-wise.

9. Secret Chiefs 3 w/ Sleepytime Gorilla Museum - January 8th 2006, Richard's On Richards, Vancouver, BC
One of those rare occasions where an opening band upstages the main act ... and, I mean, Secret Chiefs were still really, really good. But Sleepytime was just that much better. ("Wake Up!")

8. Radiohead - December 12th 1995, Warehouse, Toronto, ON
First concert so it has to make the list, but to have the chance to see The Bends performed in entirety, plus roughly half of Pablo Honey - it's just not something that will ever happen again I bet. Bonus points for my first crowd surfing experience coming at the hands of the opening band's singer.

7. Gogol Bordello - November 2008, Abandoned Air Base, Koln, DE
The only one I don't have a concert stub from so I can't come up with the exact date or location but ... seeing Gogol in an old German aircraft hangar was such a surreal experience, yet so apt!

6. Daniel Lanois w/ Tortoise - October 17th 2005, Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, BC
Tortoise would probably be my all-time favorite live band, so to get to see them first open with their own set, then come back and act as the backing band for a living Canadian legend, all culminating in the legendary (literally - don't think it was ever recorded) original composition 'Illinois', speaks for itself.

5. Pearl Jam - August 22nd 1998, Molson Park, Barrie, ON
PJ knew what they had to do to rescue me from the combination of a giant blunt and a shitty opening set from Cheap Trick: they had to come out and play a 3.5hr set that stretched over all their albums. So they did. And they encored with Yellowledbetter!

4. Dillinger Escape Plan w/ Hella - November 15th 2005, Red Room, Vancouver, BC
Like the Bungle show at #1, this one had the feel of something that could go off the rails and get dangerous. Hella damn near upstaged the main act, but Dillinger came out and pulverized the crowd. Red Room is a basement venue and it wall-to-wall packed, so the singer would climb into the rafters and disappear, then swing down with the mic screaming and land in the crowd kicking and punching. It was, mmm, chaotic. And they played When Good Dogs Do Bad Things! Sans Patton, unfortunately.

3. Flaming Lips - September 26th 2010, Malkin Bowl, Vancouver, BC
See above, lazy ass.

2. Rage Against the Machine w/ GangStarr - November 29th 1999, Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, ON
And they thought they could keep us in our seats ... as the lights went down and Rage got ready to take the stage, a crowd of about 60 or 80 people assembled in a face-off with the general admission floor guards. Myself and two friends joined. I remember going over the head of a security guard who was picking up a guy bigger than me ... as I ran into the crowd I looked back and saw the guy get thrown like a sack of potatoes back into the seating area. It was worth it to be in the pit though .. I still remember during the encore, as they played Killing in the Name, looking up as they turned on all the houselights and everyone in the entire stadium was standing, shaking fists and ready to change the world. Hopefully some moms at least got yelled at later that night.

1. Mr. Bungle - July 30th 1999, Guvernment, Toronto, ON
We arrived at the venue to be told doors would be delayed 2 hours since the band had been held up at the border. Ok, we said, and proceeded to set up shop under a highway overpass and consume way too much hash.
We head back to the venue (the Government/used to be RPM I believe, next to what was then the Warehouse and last I checked is called KoolHaus) and get inside to find it has been totally oversold. The place was packed to the point where you could hardly move, and it's July in Toronto ... not nice. Took about 3 hours before Bungle finally came out on stage, as I guess the border delay was worse than expected. The whole time, the venue is playing that little 5 second intro clip from California, the hawaiian music, on a loop ... and man, people started to lose it, screaming for them to change the music, eventually throwing bottles at the stage and any staff who would show their faces. It was pretty scary.
The worst part was that they only let MB play for 45 minutes before they were booted because the venue had the longest running Friday night clubnight in the city. Still though, only six songs (Sweet Charity, Retrovertigo, Air Conditioned Nightmare, & Vanity Fair from California, Quote Unquote from the self-titled debut, and Ma Meeshka Mow Sqwaz off Disco) and yet ... here it is @#1.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

They Live

Continuing on my fascination quest with the city of Detroit, today I found an interesting 3-part mini-documentary on the new directions the city is moving in. Narrated by Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass fame) and hosted on the Palladium Blog (whatever that is, they apparently have other exploration videos I'll have to take a look at) there's some inspiring stuff within. I particularly enjoyed parts one and three; part two, which focuses heavily on the city's legendary musical output over the years, is bogged down by one of the two co-hosts, a rather annoying guitarist from some band.

My personal highlights are Larry Mongo, the dude in the pink shirt in part one ("About 5 years ago, I saw white women runnin' down the road. Used to be, you saw white women runnin', you wondered 'Who's chasin' 'em?' But then I realized, they joggin'...") and the art houses in part three.

And consider yourself warned, hipsters abound.