Sunday, January 13, 2008


Ladies and gentlemen (although I'd be surprised if anyone reading this legitimately fits into either category),

When it all comes down to it, I don't actually do a hell of a lot. Most of my days consist of waking up late, having an express shower, dashing out the door without even a momentary consideration of breakfast, and arriving at work at least 15 minutes late (but most likely 20-40 minutes late). Then follows a 9 hour blast through the emotional rollercoaster that is work - from getting irritated with annoying customers, being terrified at large-scale public speaking, to the elation of solving a tricky problem or nailing a demo - I often sit back in my chair after what feels like 3 hours of work to find that it's 4pm already.

Once that's done, I'm into my-so-called leisure time, which on the average evening either involves a trip to the supermarket to buy something wholesome for dinner (P=0.1) or a trip to the holy triumvirate of broadway and granville fast food (Vera's burgers, the pizza joint, and the chinese takeaway) (P=0.9) and a jaunt to the liquor store for a sixer of PBR or a bottle of Canadian Club (or often, both), all of which is consumed and washed down with some televised sport (preferably a Canucks game or a football game, but let's face it, the actual content is irrelevant - I've spent many an evening enthralled by poker, strongman competitions or woodchopping) . From there, I'll either do some more work, or more likely get dragged into either a youtube or wikipedia time-suck, whereby I'll look at the clock and find it's 11 o'clock, and that I have no idea how i got to reading a wikipedia article on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

You'll notice the total lack of exercise, social interaction, or charitable deeds in the above. And while I'm tailoring the actual description to suit the particular narrative thread I'm clumsily attempting to weave (for example, I also do laundry and housework, but I haven't mentioned that), there's not much in the day-to-day existence that qualifies as an achievement.

Except for one thing.

I go to a lot of shows. And I like to think I go to some pretty goddamn good ones. In fact, I go to so many, that I start to forget which ones I've been to, and I find myself in conversation with strangers unable to remember how many times I've seen the Flaming Lips, (3, apparently) and where on earth I saw them (Auckland, Vancouver, and in a hailstorm in upstate Washington). So to counter the memory-deadening and disorienting effects of alcohol, loud music and the relentless march of time, I've started this blog as a self-indulgent tool to capture this. I hereby present a list of every show I attend in 2008, wherever they may be.

Until now, I've been incredibly resistant to write about concerts I go to, for the most part because live reviews as a genre are generally incredibly dull. The majority of mainstream shows feature a band plodding through several of the songs on their latest record, tossing in a couple of earlier hits, leaving the stage for the obligatary 2 minutes, 45 seconds, before interpreting the bored muttering of the crowd at large as a request for the default encore, and return to play the one hit that they clearly and obviously hadn't played yet. A blow-by-blow account of that stirs up about as much literary passion as a brisk scan through the pages of the Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene

However, there are a couple of redeeming features that I hope will rescue this particular enterprise.

1. I generally go to pretty fun shows. For the most part, you can tell when a band might do something special in a live setting, and know when to stay away when I know all I'm gonna get is a formulaic run-through of the live show playbook. But then again, sometimes we're surprised, and that's part of what keeps me coming back. But from Jarvis Cocker's endearing rant about self-pleasure, to Tim Rogers from You Am I's drunken belligerent challenge to the thief of Davie's guitar, to Eddie from Art Brut getting the crowd to chant "Put records in record stores" cool stuff always happens at shows I'm at.

2. I go to a bunch of different places. It seem like I'm never at home, and most of the time when I travel, it's to see a band or go to a festival. And it's incredible how the aura and ambience of a show changes depending where you are, what the venue is like - even in the Pacific Northwest, a Vancouver show is markedly different to a Seattle show, which in turn is worlds apart from a Portland show (and god bless Portland shows, because they're fantastic).

3. I have an unfortunate habit (as you may have noticed - there was never any intent for this preamble to consist of 500+ words) of getting off topic. In true Klostermanian fashion (Chuck Klosterman once wrote a book called "Killing Yourself to Live" which was ostensibly an investigation into why the untimely death of musicians can lead to popularity well beyond that which they would have enjoyed had they stayed alive. This was a noble, and valid, premise, but it was derailed slightly by the fact that nearly the entire book was about several of his ex-girlfriends, (and if these ex-girlfriends were harbouring any desires to re-acquaint with Mr Klosterman, I suspect any such feelings of reconciliation were quickly dispelled once they had read the book). And the book was a thousand times better for this lengthy and involved diversion - and is well reviewed here.) this blog is going to be less "about shows" as it is about life (or my life, to be precise). Think of the narrative structure as the dressmaker's model upon which the fabric of the rest of the narrative is draped. Or not.

And to end this lengthy dissertation, a disclaimer, and a plea. I reserve the right to get bored of this entire enterprise within a month. And should anyone be reading this who has any pull in the publishing, recording, or moviemaking industries, or is just interested in random acts of philanthropy, feel free to contact me if you're interested in paying me large sums of money to either:

a) travel the world and go to shows for a living
b) fly my band to Vancouver to make a chart-topping nerd-rock record
c) let me make a film chronicling the controversial, career-changing and dramatic 1993-1994 New Zealand cricket tour of South Africa. But only if we can get Jake Gyllenhaal to play a young, fresh-faced Stephen "Flaming" Fleming, Mark Ruffalo as Dion "Smoke the Hash" Nash, and that irritating scamp Russell Crowe to play Danny "the narc" Morrison. Oh, and we'll need to write a role in for Ellen Page, too.
d) let me design a in-car turntable system.

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