Friends, Enemies, and Internet Losers: I have returned.

Paint w/ Dawntreader, Cinderpop, and The Hermit (The Media Club) & Raised by Apes (The Cobalt), March 28, 2008

I started the evening at The Media Club. Actually, that’s not true. I started the evening at The Square Rigger Pub watching the Canucks get their asses handed to them, again. After a short bus ride, I arrived downtown and as I was about to cross Hamilton Street, I spied Greg Williams of Hinterland at the corner. Greg and I were both heading to The Media Club. He’s sitting in on bass with Paint tonight. Arriving at The Media Club, I managed to skirt the cover charge again (oops) and started chatting with the boys from The Hermit.

Hamish, Duane, Jon, Robb, and I talk about the “old” days (The Sandy Cove, Big Tall Garden, Gonch Messiah, Drag The River), the “new” days (Hermit gigs on CBC Radio 2, The Black Door, The Pack A.D.(April 11, The Biltmore)), and the possibility of a Sandy Cove reunion. Apparently, Hamish and Ian Ferguson, The Cove’s old soundman and my predecessor, are in the same “Mommy, er, Daddy” group and they have been chatting with some of the guys from Mushroom Trail about getting together for a one-off. I suggested we use it as a fundraiser to fly Paul (the guitarist from Drag the River, my old outfit) in from back east for a one-night, Drag the River Reunion Tour. The high point of the conversation for me is finding out that Big Tall Garden are going back into the studio. This is like telling a little kid that everyday will be Christmas from now on. Sweet.

The Hermit takes the stage for the first time sans Alison (Paper Moon (May 22, The Park Theatre, Winnipeg)) and Red takes up the mantle easily. She’s a little nervous (though she needn’t be) and gives herself a smack in the kisser with the mic but shrugs it off with a smile and a raised eyebrow without missing a note. I mention it only as one of those split second awkward moments that are endearing and make you smile. She isn’t filling anyone’s shoes tonight: she is standing gracefully in her own.

I really enjoy watching this band play. Jon is an amazing bass player whose on-stage persona is not unlike his off-stage self except that, when playing, he looks as though he is getting a wicked back massage (This description reads slightly different in my notes but this is a family publication after all…). Duane looks a little bit like the combination of a hip scarecrow and a funky bowl of Jell-O with a current running through it. Watching him play, I often wonder if he is playing the music or if the music is playing him. Robb masters his keyboards, moving easily from instrument to instrument, including a little melodica, the likes of which has been used by generations of children to annoy parents and turn babysitters suicidal. In this case, however, it adds beautifully to the mix. Phil Spectre can eat his heart out: there are no holes in this wall of sound. And Hamish? Well, Hamish is the quintessential drummer. ‘Nuff said.

I duck out of The Media Club about 3/4 of the way through The Hermit’s set for a brisk, 10 minute walk to The Cobalt to catch a bit of Raised By Apes’ set.

I have always felt that punk is truly the working man’s music and my belief is buttressed by the Raised By Apes’ van parked outside The Cobalt. The back of the van is adorned with stickers from bands like Bad Religion and Pennywise and a decal advertising “Nelson Automatic Lawn Sprinklers.”

The set is tight. Perhaps too tight for a punk band, but punk has evolved from the days when some people played it because it was all they could play (Stooges, Sex Pistols, I’m looking at you here…), to the point where it is a viable music genre that talented musicians choose to play. For my money at least, every good punk band has had (Oh my God. Is he going to say it?) a good pop sensibility.

Raised By Apes are breaking in a new guitar player, Mike, tonight and he seems to be fitting in nicely. They power through a great set, including “Snaggletooth,” my fav, and a number of politically charged future-anthems. Feeling I’ve had enough exercise for one day, I flag down a cab and hightail it back to The Media Club.

I arrive as Cinderpop are starting their set. It is straight out rawk ‘n’ roll and a joy to partake. They are the first outfit I’ve seen in a while with two Telecasters out front. Strats and Les Pauls seem to float from genre to genre but the Telecaster is one of those guitars, like a Flying V or Rickenbacker, that say a lot about a band before a note is plucked. Their set is one of those prolonged moments where the beer tastes colder and you’re glad that you’re among friends. It is shaping up to be a great evening.

During the break, I plug the upcoming The Pack A.D. show to anyone who’ll listen and a couple who don’t.

I knew I was going to like Dawntreader when, after a couple songs into their set, an audience member yells out that they’re “pretty good” and front man, Matthew Thomas, replies, “Heh, we’re alright.” Watching him on-stage reminded me of a pre-Krall Elvis Costello, stiff-legged and on tip-toes. Their guitar player had a pedal box the size of a medium Korg at his feet between his guitar and his tube-driven Fender Deluxe amp, but unlike a lot of guitarists, he doesn’t hide behind his pedals. There are moments when his guitar is an audio picture of a little kid, gazing out the window while the teacher talks about boring shit, only to come railing back to cut you, hard. He reminds me of The Edge; however, like The Edge, his sound is distinctive. I buy one of their CDs from the merch table and score a freebie of the new album from the lead singer. You’ve got to love business cards.

Paint were supposed to go on around twelve but this world runs on rock ‘n’ roll time, a strange cosmic paradox where everything moves faster but nothing ever happens on time. The crowd has thinned when they take the stage and the band thanks us for “sticking around.” I, for one, am very glad that I did. It’s a good set and a great sound. For some reason I still can’t place, they kind of remind me of The Northern Pikes. This is strange and a little bit troubling seeing as how Paint have talent and reasonable haircuts. Still, there is something in the sound that is reminiscent, perhaps, of style. I am certain, however, that any of the deserved success enjoyed by Paint will be the result of talent and good hair, not a mad rush to sign anyone with a maple leaf on their guitar case because of impending CanCon legislation.

I finished the night with another brisk jog, to the bus stop this time. I managed to catch the last bus with seconds to spare after running into a creepy old lady with one eye. I secretly worried that she was going to tell me I’d be King of Scotland one day but that never came to pass.

A beautiful blonde sat beside me on the bus. She smelled wonderful (no small feat for anyone at this time of the night/morning). I was just about to say hello until she took out a pair of scissors and started cleaning her fingernails. No great loss anyway. I had a review to write and the beautiful women of this city would just have to wait until I am done.

There.

Bring on the ladies.

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