I saw the Super Furry Animals twice in 1999.
They made me a fan. Of their music, of course, but of their humour, bright colours and album artwork (eventually I became a collector of artist Pete Folwer’s work – he’s done a portrait of me, and created my epic back tattoo), too. And yet, I’ve not seen the Super Furries since. I’ve seen singer Gruff Rhys solo, of course, here in Vancouver and in Austin at SXSW where we kept crossing paths – one path took us both to see bassist Guto Pryce’s side project Gulp play. I maintain tremendous respect for the Super Furry Animals, both singular and plural.
So, here we are, 17 years on and I’m grateful to have this opportunity again.
Washington’s Dead Meadow opened – bringing their actually prog, definitely stoner, layered shoegaze rock to a reverent crowd who’d likely recently been to the dispensary. But Dead Meadow’s charms extend beyond the black-lit basement. Loved the thrum, hum and melody in Jason Simon’s voice and guitar, and the sticks-high drumming of Mark Laughlin. They played a long opening set that rightly set us up for a bit of mind-expanding fun.
And so, when the SFAs took the stage we were ready. We were ready for them, for their return, for the crinkly, white, disposable boiler suits customized with a Dead Meadow sticker that proclaimed “Enjoy Yourself, For These Are the Good Old Days You Will Miss In the Years To Come.” We were ready for the return of Gruff’s favourite white cardboard signs with large block letters saying “Applause” or “Prolonged Applause” or “Whoa!” or “Thank You” or my favourite, “Ape Shit!” Plus the one for the end, the one marked “The End.”
At the beginning, though, we were smiling because “Slow Life” kicked us off into SFA’s first show of 2016. We were smiling and we forgave the slightly tentative approach and a few clunks, because it was their first show of 2016. We were grinning because of Gruff’s never-not deadpan comments – honestly I could listen to him talk for hours. And we were grinning like loons when he put on the Mighty Morphin giant red and silver helmet from his and Dylan Goch’s film Separado! For”(Drawing) Rings around the World,” he shoved a mic into the mouth of the helmet and sang. May all the gods bless the bands who make an effort.
There was “Do or Die” after that, and a ridiculously good “Ice Hockey Hair” that they wouldn’t play at subsequent shows, this was a gift, because a heckler had called it out in a “threatening manner.”. “Hello Sunshine” went all hippy, “Pan Ddaw’r Wawr” went trippy, and “Run! Christian, run!” went down its dippy, country way.
From there it was just….well, a perfect, hits-heavy set. “Juxtapozed with U”, “The International Language of Screaming” into aaghhhhh my favourite “Golden Retriever”, well….fuck. In fact, “The Man Don’t Give a Fuck” wrapped up whole thing up in a warm hug and party. It didn’t hurt that the band would also come on stage wearing Yeti costumes and thick blonde dreadlock wigs. Shouts of “SFA OK!” were an understatement. We were enjoying ourselves. For these are the good old years. And we’ll miss them in the years to come. \m/
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