May 27, 2007
photo courtesy of Dystopian Dreamer.
As a fan of Wolf Parade (who are going to be headlining the Wolfe Island Musicfest!), I was quite happy to hear that Dan Boeckner’s other band, Handsome Furs, would be opening for Arcade Fire. I was impressed with the couple songs that I had heard off their brand-spanking-new album “Plague Park” and was anxious to hear the rest of their material. I’m pleased to report that it was top-to-bottom excellent. Given the distinctiveness of Boeckner’s vocals, there is naturally echoes of Wolf Parade in the Furs. As a result of the drum machine and synths provided by Alexei Perry which back Boeckner’s vocals and guitar work, however, the sound is noticeably different from that of Wolf Parade. The cool, impersonal nature of the electronics are offset by Boeckner’s impassioned delivery. With Handsome Furs, Boeckner is concerned primarily with notions of where he is and where he has been. There is a theme of discontented domesticity and a preoccupation with place that runs throughout the album, popping up notably in “Dead + Rural”, “Sing! Captain,” and “Handsome Furs Hate this City” and scattered throughout a number of their other songs in between the lyrical abstractions Boeckner is known for. Heartfelt and melancholy, Handsome Furs is much more personal than WP.
On this, the second night at Massey Hall opening for Arcade Fire, Boeckner and Perry burned through seven songs (6 from Plague Park plus an unrecorded one about Vladimir Putin) in almost exactly a half hour. The doubled vocals which you can hear on the album was replicated by Boecker singing into two mics – one of which was distorted/echo-y. He was not afraid to rock out while Perry was extremely focused on the keyboard and other electro-gizmos. Getting a chance to see Handsome Furs was a fantastic way to start the evening’s entertainment. Those folks who purposely showed up late, missing this opening act, were fools.
Handsome Furs, Massey Hall, Toronto, 16 May 2007
1. Handsome Furs Hate This City
2. What We Had
3. Hearts Of Iron
4. Snakes On The Ladder
5. growing up there kinda sucked, but I like it now (talk)
6. Dead + Rural
7. Sing! Captain
8. I wanna play the song about Putin (talk)
Pick up Plague Park through Sub Pop. You won’t regret it.
I almost forgot – Martin is the winner of the Rock Plaza Central cd. Thanks to all who entered.
May 18, 2007
Before you go after the Arcade Fire mp3s, ignoring what I write, I want you to know that the kind and generous folks at StageFright/Outside Music have provided me with a copy of Rock Plaza Central‘s second album “The World Was Hell To Us” to give to you. As you know, we here at B(oot)log HQ are big RPC fans, featuring them here and here. Folks, let me tell you, Rock Plaza Central is the perfect soundtrack to your May 2-4 weekend. If you need proof, I will direct you to the song “Mount Up and Ride“, which is on the album in question, and which Chris Eaton explained is about having sex in a tent. If that is not the right and proper way to honour Queen Victoria I haven’t the foggiest idea what is.
Note for those of you who are not Canadian: this weekend is Victoria day, traditionally celebrated on or around May 24th, or May 2-4, the unofficial start of the camping season. Apparently Canada is the only country in the Commonwealth to celebrate this holiday. A “two-four” is a term for a case of beer. Combining the first long weekend of “summer”, by which we mean it is warm enough to sleep outside without freezing to death, with a beer related name and you have an excuse to spend three days pissed out of your mind out in the woods. Trust me, it makes sense to us.
But seriously, this is a fantastic album and if you enjoyed their much heralded “Are We Not Horses” you will almost certainly like this album. While there is a distinct shortage of robotic horses (although I believe the mythology is introduced to us in the song “The Last Band on Earth“) it is an album filled with anthems of desperation, heartache, and unbridled joy delivered by a mesmerizing band.
If you would like a copy of “The World Was Hell To Us” all you have to do is email me at email@example.com with “Rock Plaza Central” or something similar in the subject line, and
I will hook you up [edit: hmmm. that sounds like if you email me I will give the album. Let me restate: email me and i will enter you in a draw for the cd and I *if you’re lucky, I’ll hook you up*], because if there was one thing that May 2-4 is lacking it is presents. Get your entry into me by then end of May 24th (that is midnight, Kingston Standard Time aka EST) to qualify and I will announce the winner when I make my post next weekend. Cool? Cool.
Onto the main event.
(photo courtesy of * Janice)
I though the Arcade Fire might be my Polkaroo (look at that! two canadianisms in one post!) , that is, I thought I would never see them. I missed my chance to see them before they got huge and now that they are the best thing around I would be SOL. When I heard they were playing two days at Massey Hall I resigned myself to not getting tickets but would give it the old college try anyway. Much to my utter surprise and delight my ninja-like Ticketmaster skillz came through and I scored two tickets to see the Arcade Fire, live and in person. Holy Crap.
It was amazing. The band was in extremely fine form. They sounded good – despite complaints about the sound from the night before – the only qualm I would have is that Regine’s vocals were not loud enough. They looked good- with an excellent visual display of small screens around the stage which displayed the Neon Bible, projections of the band being recorded by cameras on the mic stands/megaphones, or synchronized swimmers etc., neon bars at the front of the stage and projections on the backing curtain. Not to mention the band which, with 10 people alternating instruments and dancing, Regine and Sarah Neufeld especially, and Win’s remarkable stage presence, made for an utterly engaging visual feast. The setlist was near perfect, playing Neon Bible in its entirety, with selected tracks from Funeral (it would have been perfect if they played “Wake Up” but I am in no way complaining) and the musicianship was extraordinary. Having devoured the albums and as many bootlegs as I could get my hands on, I thought I was prepared for how good it was going to be, but there was a vitality in witnessing Arcade Fire live that blew me away.
I’ll admit, I wanted this to be the greatest concert I ever attended. I was primed for it and the band didn’t let me down. It was, without a doubt, the best concert I have ever been to. It wasn’t, however, a life-changing religious experience (although I think my life can only be richer for having seen them). Being perched on the left hand side of the first balcony – just below this photo:
(photo courtesy of ProdigyBoy)
I felt somewhat disconnected from the experience that I think I could have had if I were right up front, smooshed against another adoring fan. I think I’ve been spoiled by too many wonderful and intimate shows at the Grad Club. Looking down at the kids at the stage I felt rather envious. They were having that ecstatic Arcade Fire experience. That being said, it was an amazing concert and I am truly fortunate to have experience it, even if it was at a bit of a distance.
I am very pleased to present you with my recording of the show. If you want an alternate take/both days/a flac recording, you should go see Dave. Tell him I sent you and he’ll hook you up with the goods.
(photo courtesy of Thatonethere on Us Kids Know forum)
If you plan on downloading the whole thing I direct you to my handy-dandy zip file! Yes, it is a bit of a pain to wait for the download but it is probably more of a pain to separately click on 20 files and you will not destroy my bandwidth. So please, go HERE FOR THE FULL THING:
UPDATE: for you audionerds I’ve uploaded the show in .flac format to dimeadozen (at least I think I have, I’m not convinced I figured it out. Lemme know if it is working/not working for you). Get it here:
or, as usual, here it is track by track:
Arcade Fire, Massey Hall, Toronto, 16 May 2007
1. Black Mirror
2. No Cars Go
3. Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
5. Black Wave/Bad Vibrations
6. My Body is a Cage
7. Neon Bible
8. partners in health (talk)
10. The Well and the Lighthouse
11. Crown of Love
12. Ocean of Noise
13. (Antichrist Television Blues)
14. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
15. Rebellion (Lies)
17. Keep the Car Running
20. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
(photo courtesy of Math436 on the Us Kids Know Forum)
You can get wonderous things at the Arcade Fire store.
Happy May 2-4.
May 13, 2007
Sometimes, songs are so exceedingly beautiful that I almost overlook what is going on beneath the melodies and harmonies. In the case of Forest City Lovers, I was so entranced by what I heard that it took some time for it to dawn on me how melancholy the music is. There is a sadness that haunts their stunning album “The Sun and the Wind” but it is far from depressing. This isn’t music of despair, as brief moments of hope can be found throughout the songs – the appearance of horns, a joyful chorus, the tinkling of a glockenspiel – but there is longing and perhaps a bit of weariness, that informs the music. It is warm, comforting, honest, intimate and very, very beautiful.
Forest City Lovers opened for The Bicycles in January at The Artel. As I described with the headliners, the mix wasn’t ideal and some of the strength in Kat Burns’ confident vocals, as can be heard on the album, was lost as a result. Nevertheless, they played an exceptionally lovely set, drawing primarily from their album, as well as a song from Burns’ solo disc and a few newer songs. I hope you enjoy it.
Forest City Lovers, The Artel, Kingston, 26 January 2007
2. Oh Humility
3. we like playing small, intimate shows (talk)
4. In Flight
5. my brother’s in the audience (talk)
6. Song For Morrie
7. he knows how a tambourine works (talk)
8. Don’t Go, Please
9. Waiting by the Fence
10. interesting Kingston stories (talk)
11. Ocean (title?) [update: i was way off – the title is “Country Road”]
12. Randy’s hair (talk)
14. play your bass (talk)
16. say “oobie doobie” a bunch of times (talk)
17. Scared of Time
18. one more (talk)
19. take it slow (title?) [update – the title is “At the Border”]
May 6, 2007
fly pan am live in germany (by Tobias Ott), courtesy of Brainwashed.
While not all of the great CBC Radio 3 Studio Sessions and Concert Recordings are available on the Concerts and Sessions Page of the Radio3 website, there are many, many wonderful things to be found there (and with a little perseverance you can find even more stuff in the Magazine archives). One of the treasure I found was this set from 2001 from the great, and sadly, now defunct Montreal post-rockers Fly Pan Am.
Forming in 1996, Fly Pan Am had a ten year run of creating some of the best avant-garde rock going. They were frequent collaborators and relentless experimenters. Fly Pan Am created challenging, intense, complex and entirely engaging music. In the set below, is both rhythmic and abrasive, beautiful and noisy. I hope you enjoy it.
Fly Pan Am, Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, 29 March 2001,(CBCRadio3 Concert recording)