Shows like this past Thursday at Rancho Relaxo are why we play live music. All the bands sounded great, the crowd seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did, we didn’t have any technical difficulties AND the sound was amazing. We should probably retire now.
Something clicked earlier in the evening when we decided to start the set with “Tortoise”. We usually ease in to that one, so it definitely signaled a “show them that 2 people can rock pretty damn hard” approach to the set that was a lot of fun. We also brought out the ukulele again for a few songs, which seemed to go over well (especially during “Laura’s Song”).
The whole shebang was put together by the good folks at The Indie Machine, so we definitely recommend checking them out for future shows.
If you’re looking for a less biased recap of the show with some great pictures (not unlike the one above by our pal R.Mirsky) check out the writeup at Buyingshotsforbands.com. If nothing else that review reveals the scary fact that some people are actually listening to the nonsense that Paul says between songs. Scary indeed.
When this poster went up around our neighbourhood people thought Laura was leaving the band*. I suppose we should have clarified that it was her farewell to Broadview Espresso (we live across the street though, so take “farewell” very loosely…). Suffice to say she sold her soul to Dog Is Blue a looooong time ago…
Speaking of posters, I always try to save the ones we tape to the counter at the coffee shop, as after a few weeks they look wonderfully grizzled and abused by all the drips and spills. Sadly, I’ve only actually been able to rescue one of them, but a vigilant friend took the photo above before it got tossed.
As for the show itself, what more can you say about Anna Atkinson than she’s awesome? This time around she had accompaniment in the form of stand-up bass and vocals, which only made the experience more ethereal and charming in the intimate setting.
We kept the atmosphere light by debuting 4 songs newly arranged for the concert ukulele (we’re working on recording these for fun, so stay tuned). Speaking of which, Laura completely one-upped me by running the uke through one of my fuzz pedals during “Laura’s Song” —I can jealously admit that the sonic destruction was magnificent!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Dog Is Blue show if the audio/video equipment didn’t malfunction. We were set to record the whole shebang through multiple mics, but somehow only ended up with Anna’s set. The nerdy A/V gods are still mad at us apparently. We’ll sacrifice a VCR for them before the next show.
*They also thought someone drew that moustache on her, but that’s actually one of Laura’s self-portraits as is.
Song Written Upon Getting Cut By the Argos (CLF Sessions cover) w/Henry Adam Svec
Stan & Georgie
Jingle Bells, Batman Smells*
Till the End of the Day (Kinks cover)*
Raise Your Dead
Years from now it won’t matter what songs we played at the 100 Days of Batman show last weekend, or even how hampered we were by technical difficulties for the first half of the set (check your cables, kids), because the above photo* will still exist in the ether of the internet as proof that we actually performed in full Batman & Robin costumes.
In fact, there was apparently some higher power at work (the spirit of Batman, maybe?) making sure that there was no further evidence, as BOTH video cameras we brought mysteriously didn’t capture a single shot and our audio recorder was never even turned on.
All told it was a fun, if sloppy, change of pace and we figured out the technical difficulties just in time to crank up the distortion for a rendition of The Kinks’ “Till the End of the Day” (using the latest of my Saturn electric guitars live for the first time…and promptly breaking a guitar cable at the end). Pulling out some Batman related tunes was also a hoot (we’ll probably record the three new songs listed to the left for a fun EP).
Henry Adam Svec and WL Altman put on a great opening set, as expected. I can never get enough of the subtle humour and great songwriting in Henry’s projects.
*Taken by our stalwart supporter/friend Justin Heldsinger
Song Written Upon Getting Cut By The Argos (CFL Sessions cover)
Slow Boat To China
Raise Your Dead
A week before this show, when the poster to the right was still in pristine condition (I love taping one to the counter and watching it deteriorate over time…), one of Broadview Espresso‘s regular customers said to me “aren’t you worried about playing with Robin (front-woman for Bernice)? What if she blows you out of the water…you’re not going after her, are you?”
Funnily enough, we did play after her and I was a little worried that her phenomenal voice might be a tough act to follow. Thankfully, we’re nothing if not foolishly brazen.
These Broadview Espresso shows are often really intimate and not as crowded as others, so I thought it was a good idea to bring out my trusty little homemade tube amp, but when there are suddenly close to 50 people crammed in there 5 watts just doesn’t cut it. Laura’s Microkorg got rave reviews after the set though.
Oddly enough, of all the songs we played that night “Slow Boat to China,” a tune we usually avoid or butcher entirely, was the crowd pleaser (this happened when we played in Montreal as well, actually). We also debuted our version of Big Star’s “Thirteen,” a tune we may or may not be recording very soon (re: it’s 90% done).
All told it was another one of those wonderful shows that reaffirms why we do this in the first place…
Oh, and it was Taste of the Danforth in our neighbourhood this weekend, so any excuse to get out of the East End was a good one…we did, however, stop by the street festivities first to get a couple of awesome bubble guns from one of the vendors, complete with noises and flashing lights. Mine instantly started leaking all over my pedals and I managed to zap a friend right in the eyeball with the laser (you can sort of see Laura using hers in the photo above).
All told, we were rough and out of practice, but had a lot of fun and even had a singer or two in the front row during “Southern Ontario.” It was also our first set using a Microkorg we picked up used last week, which I promptly used to completely derail “Laura’s Song” by choosing inappropriately heavy bass patches.
…if you can’t have fun and screw around then why the hell are you in a band?
This was the night of the “big snow storm” that had all of Toronto (not to mention southern Ontario and a good chunk of the U.S.) stocking up on canned goods, sitting in their panic rooms locked & loaded for the apocalypse. Of course, we only got about half of the expected white stuff here, so the show at Rancho Relaxo went on as scheduled.
Getting ready to record our new album this month, we used this set as an opportunity to work on some of the new material. Case in point, Anna Atkinson joined us on viola for a few tunes (complete with a great new haircut…) and “She Said” was played live for the very first time.
Of course, I’m an easily distracted mess, so new accompaniment and the debut of a recently built guitar pedal along with strange stage hum made for interesting results. Thankfully, I make it a habit to surround myself with beautiful, talented and dependable women who pick up my slack and slap me with it.
Given all the hoopla over the snow, it ended up being a good time. We were very grateful for an audience who actually braved the overblown weather, and both Smugshot (complete with Keytar) and Richard Gracious (who ended the night with a drunken dance party) were a lot of fun (and each covered bands I’d completely forgotten about—Wheatus and Afroman respectively).
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!):