The idea was simple: pare down the excess (re: no light rings or huge pedal board) and collaborate with our good friend and ultra-talented multi-instrumentalist Anna Atkinson. The result consisted of a quick set by each act before joining forces for what Anna called “the mega set.” “Mega” in this case meaning unrehearsed and haphazard—something that in the wrong atmosphere would have crashed and burned, but in the dimmed lights of Broadview Espresso, amongst an attentive and interactive audience of familiar faces, was welcomed with an air of mischief and fun.
It wasn’t fun and games at first though, as our trusty Korg Polysix seemed to have a mind of its own, bending notes all over the place (turns out it was just cold from having spent the night in the trunk). Thankfully, one of the many perks of living across the street from the venue was being able to run back and grab our Roland Juno 106 as a stand in*. Also, just like the previous show, we didn’t write a set list and forgot to play “Young Enough,” a song we had actually rehearsed with Anna prior (look for a new version of that tune at some point).
Thankfully, the slap-dash set seemed to still go over well (our new Twitter friend Matt, who also helped us name “Little Dragon Slayer,” tweeted: it was probably one of the coolest musical experience I’ve had. follow him–he’s clearly a smart dude).
Speaking of Twitter…one of our favourite online personalities, Louise Andre, took some great photos:
We arrived at The Mansion in Kingston early*. Early enough, in fact, that they were actually building the stage (there was a circular saw under the merch table most of the night). Once it was all setup everything looked great. The crowd filtered in and eased our doubts of playing to no one.
Our set seemed to go over well. Of course, wearing light-rings and having a blinking sign helped to get people’s attention (as did my beard…here I was about to shave, but audience catcalls about my facial fur have me thinking twice). Volume wasn’t an issue this time around either, as I was armed with a larger extension speaker for my homemade amp (and I didn’t drop the it like last time).
“Dusty Bones” (to be recorded soon) has been our go-to opener lately—with a folky first half that abruptly turns raucous, it’s sort of a condensed version of what you can expect from a Dog Is Blue show. Although, we might want to actually start writing set lists beforehand, as we got lost in the excitement and forgot to play a few of our other new favourites.
As for Bellevue…ahh, Bellevue. Great people in an even better band. Playing with them back in November at the Silver Dollar was such hoot that we were very happy when they asked us to join them for this show. Their set was amazing—upbeat and tight while showcasing some great new songs. They had us dancing at the merch booth.
Rounding out the bill was the talented and authoritative Sticky Henderson (who commanded the stage like a veteran and launched a campaign against the 3(!) noisy snare drums behind her), and Brad Sucks—self-proclaimed “one man band with no fans” (who actually had a band and a bunch of fans) whose tight sound had his diverse fan base rockin’ out at the front of the stage.
*We actually got to Kingston around dinner time. Trying to be healthy, we ate salads at a pub down the street. Unfortunately, these “salads” were really just piles of cheese with the odd piece of lettuce thrown in that sat like soggy bricks in our stomachs.
Windsor gets a bad rap. I haven’t spent much time there, so I can only comment on the following: the steak joint we ate at before the show deserves it, the Phog Lounge definitely does not.
We’ve wanted to play there for a while, so the 4 hour drive was well worth the excitement—add Wax Mannequin to the bill and it’s like Christmas came early. That’s not to say it was a show without hiccups. There were definitely hiccups.
Our blinking sign (which Phog manager, Tom Lucier, seemed to really enjoy*) had a couple dead lights, my little amp proved slightly too small, my guitar strap fell off at one point and I was getting what I like to refer to as “electrical tickles” from the vocal mic. Of course, if it all went smoothly there’d be no stories, right? Conquer adversity and all that…blah, blah, blah.
It helps that Wax Mannequin put on the best set I’ve ever seen him play, consisting of emphatic between song sermons about the mysterious power of crystals (done in what I can only presume was a Christopher Walken impression while holding—and throwing—various shards of plastic valuable gemstones) all culminating in a half-naked, fiery rendition of the Canadian classic, “The Log Driver’s Waltz.”
As a band, we like to get out of Hogtown whenever possible. I’m itching to hit Phog Lounge again soon…
*He eagerly told the crowd that we were the only touring band in Canada with a sign that blinked to the music and that sold paintings with download codes. We were very flattered.
Song Written Upon Getting Cut by the Argos (CFL Sessions cover)
Stan & Georgie
Aren’t You Glad (Beach Boys cover)
Ahh, Project 165. Our home away from home. We’ve played there 4 times and at least thrice have brought far too much gear for the intimate space. This time we finally got it right: acoustic guitar and small keyboard rounded out by tambourine and glockenspiel. No PA, no soundcheck, no blinking lights.
There’s something intimate about performing without a microphone. Aside from not having a mic stand in your face, its’ like a middle-man has been removed and you can communicate with the audience directly—no disconnect. That’s what this night was all about, as other Project 165 regulars, Tiny Mountains, and travelling troubadour, Pat LePoidevin, all made excellent use of the intimacy.
Of course, it’s also amazing when you don’t have to worry about your half-broken amp conking out, homemade pedals not doing what they are supposed to, or keeping time with loops recorded on the fly. We really ought to do this more often…
Here are some photos taken by Joey Bruni (check out that stage!):