It was a tough winter and spring, with far too many cancelled shows due to my ongoing illnesses and nights in being boring. And with summer coming up fast, I still managed to see get out and see some friends. Some old friends, some lost friends, and some friends I’ve yet to meet. Even when I’m feeling close to keeling over, myself, rock n’ roll will never die, yunno? Here are some shots and some twisted tales of Yuck, The Pack A.D. and Wintersleep.
It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Yuck live. And by live, I mean with their instruments, because the last time I saw Yuck alive, I was getting drunk with guitarist Max Bloom, his model girlfriend Lucy, then-Yuck-singer Daniel Blumberg and his model girlfriend Stacy (who also happened to star in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac), in a pub in east London. Great times.
Before that, I was getting drunk with them on a big ol’ boat sailing to Cozumel and plastering them with temporary BSR tattoos. But that’s another story. This time I was not drunk, not on boat and there were no model girlfriends. Which was sad, because I like model girlfriends. Instead, it was a quiet March 29 night after a long Easter Weekend in Vancouver at an underpacked Fortune Sound Club. Wah wah.
BUT. Those of us who do have excellent taste were there to enjoy Max Bloom on lead (Daniel left in 2013), flanked by bassist Mariko Doi (chipping in on vocals on “As I Walk Away” and others) and charming guitarist Ed Haynes doing what they do so well: fuzzed-out indie guitar rock for discerning ears. “Hold Me Closer”, “The Wall” “Cannonball”, oldie “Get Away” and the Doi/Bloom harmonies on “Georgia” all sounded fab. Been too long, Yuck friends. Come back and next time I promise a real party.
Friends I’ve Lost
I used to be good friends with Vancouver’s The Pack A.D. Loved them then. Love them now. In 2010, they threw up some of my first rockhands. The same year, I interviewed them for a doc called Behind the Rock. In 2011, I covered their awesome, shot-by-shot rip of Gary Numan’s “Cars” video for “Take”, and raved about them here. In 2012, I hung backstage with them and Our Lady Peace. In 2013, I inadvertently pissed them off – via a well-intentioned but misdirected tweet – the same year the actual Gary Numan played. And between then and now, I slunk away, watching the Pack from the sidelines, listening with my ears. On May 13, on the second night of their two-night return to Vancouver’s Cobalt, I ventured out to see my forever crushes once again.
It’s been a long time of me loving Becky and Maya. But it’s unrequited, and that’s ok. But I still think the Pack A.D. are fucking GREAT. Want propulsive drums and a howl n’ guitar? Garage sludge and superior rock n’ roll thwack? Go see Becky Black and Maya Miller, pronto. Their new album Positive Thinking (“So What” sounded stellar at the show as did oldie “Haunt You”) is out in August. Don’t miss them on tour if they make it through your town.
Friends I’ve Yet To Meet
I got sent a copy of Wintersleep’s Welcome to the Night Sky late in 2007. The press release pleaded for me to like this new band from Nova Scotia. Living in the UK since 2000, I’d been away from Canadian bands a long time and developed a hardy sense of London haughtiness. I was suspicious. But I gave the album a go. The lyrics creeped, angsty and raw. The voice – Paul Murphy’s ahhhhh – got inside my head. I LOVED that album. Then so did other people. And like all deserving poppies in the sun, Wintersleep grew, onto the radio and arched towards the *sniff* mainstream. So, like a true alt-music snob suffering from Tall Poppy Syndrome, I reached out for my scissors. Becuase popular! Because radio! I didn’t quite cut them down, but Wintersleep and I grew rows apart.
But then Murphy released a small, self-titled solo album under the band name PostData. Across nine songs, gifted to Murphy by his dead grandparents whom he claimed spoke to him in his dreams, PostData’s lyrics really creeped, even more angsty and raw. I fell madly in love with the poppy again, playing the album every winter (and on most dreary days in between) until PostData stopped existing. And in all that time, all that time I’ve loved the quirks of Paul Murphy, I never saw Wintersleep live. Until March 25, at the Commodore Ballroom.
There I put aside the scissors and smiled at seeing taller poppy Murphy up there blooming, guitarist Tim D’Eon givin’ ‘er and the crowd oooh-ahhing along to re “Santa Fe”, “Archeologists”, “Weighty Ghost”, “Oblivion” and the really radio-friendly “Amerika.” I twitched. And while Wintersleep were certainly comfortable, they and we didn’t connect. The fans seemed to love it. And that is right. But Murphy looked a bit awkward up there, a bit misplaced, like a seed that drifted. Deep down inside, I think Paul Murphy really just wants to be doing creepy angsty things like PostData. Or maybe my goth heart just wants it to be so. *puts poppies in vase* \m/
Thanks to Vince Litster for extra words
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