I’ve been tough on White Lies in the past. I liked them. And then I wanted them to be more. And that wasn’t fair.
I interviewed them on their first-ever tour to Vancouver for their first-ever album, To Lose My Life back in 2008. If a debut of goth anthems was the sign of the things to come, I was hooked. But it wasn’t. The songs got broader, and lighter, and radio-friendlier. And the band got nicer, and more earnest. And so they lost me.
But that’s not White Lies’ fault. They changed and shifted. I was too picky and I said as much here, the last time I saw them, which I just forgot, until now, and want back to check. And now that I’m saying the same things.
I guess I’m just becoming really, truly demanding of music. And really, exceptionally demanding of live shows. Is this what happens when you hit a certain age and have seen a certain hundreds of shows? Do you become a dick?
I’m sorry but good and fun isn’t always good enough any more. *shrugs* I just like what I like. And even if I do have the energy, I still get bored. I want something edgy or arty, some exceptional talent, some drunken charisma, some growl, some bite, some twist, some funk, some dance, some voice that rattles some part of me. I want to watch a new genre of music be invented on stage (Young Fathers), cry actual tears (Sigur Rós), remember that rock gods still live, thank fck, (Foals) or just rage against the machine (Savages.) I tire easily at garden-variety good stuff. Even if it’s good stuff.
And – I’ll say it again – White Lies is still good stuff. For the crowd rammed into Vancouver’s Rickshaw Theatre on February 11, it was the VERY GOOD stuff. So why do I keep going to see a band I might say the same thing about? I guess, I just really do have a soft spot for them. Even if the songs don’t knock me over, I was pleased to see the band, Harry, Charles, Jack and now new keyboard player Tommy, on great form. Smiling, arms wide, locked into each other. I was pleased to see the audience, jumping and waving and bellowing along, beaming through set opener “Take It Out On Me”. And I guess I was really pleased for me, doing the same to my favest of the first-album comforts: “To Lose My Life”, “Price of Love” and “Farewell to the Fairground.”
From the balcony, I looked down at everyone having that much fun. I thought about my friends making the drive to Seattle to see them again a second night. I wondered why so many connected so deeply to such floofy alt-rock. Why someone tagged me claiming it was the gig of the year so far. The guys looked like they were having fun, sure, but it wasn’t, like bone-rattling balls-out or anything.
I puzzled and puzzed till my puzzler got sore and then I reminded myself about how subjective music truly is, and how little my opinion matters. It’s not fair of me to want White Lies to change, to be something other. They’re perfectly fine the way they are. For some people, they are everything. And that’s what’s awesome about music. I’m not the only one who’s right.
So. It’s time for me to shake hands with White Lies and wish them well. I’ll always have that first album, anyway. \m/
Click on the photos to embiggen and scroll through