Thursday, March 27, 2008

Born Ruffians, Said The Whale, The Media Club, Vancouver, March 26, 2008

It feels kinda weird to be writing about the show I went to last night, when all I can think about is the awesomeness that is going to be the YACHT show tonight. Last time I saw him was before Architecture, and it was outstanding - from the simple fact that all he does is hit play on his tape player and dance and sing, to the fact that he stopped the show halfway through for a Q and A session, it was a barrel of joy. Luckily, I don't believe my employers read this, because large swathes of my afternoon have been spent trying to dream up the perfect question to ask, should he do it again tonight.

But alas, I've got two hours to kill before dodgeball, so I should reflect upon the awesomeness that was the Born Ruffians last night.

In what seemed like a carbon copy of Monday night, I rolled into the Media Club at a gig-appropriate time, after force-feeding myself a couple more cans of Colt 45 (and while it still tastes like armpit, it does run at 8% alcohol, which eases the pain, and I now only have one can left, which makes me feel even better), and prepared myself to watch a shambling country rock band from Eastern Canada.

Kicking off proceedings were a band by the name of Said the Whale. For some reason I thought the name seemed familiar, but I figured it was just a consequence of seeing it on gig posters and concert listings around town. It was only halfway through that I realized that they'd spammed me on Myspace, and in a rare bout of charity, I'd accepted their friend request. I'm incredibly demanding when I scrutinize unsolicited friend requests, if your page layout is cluttered, for example, you're automatically out. But after a quick check of the internet on the iPod to confirm that they were in fact my myspace friends (how I settled arguments before the advent of mobile internet, I'll never know), I realized this was the first time I was seeing a band that had sent me an unsolicited friend request in real life, which kinda reinforces just how useful that particular marketing tactic is (and speaking of marketing - check this piece of capitalist genius). And not that anyone uses Myspace any more. Poor Tom.

The band themselves were actually pretty goddamn good - simple upbeat guitar pop, reminiscent of the good bits of Weezer songs, that warmed up the building crowd quite capably, even if the bassist did look a little too clean-cut to be in an indie pop band. But then again, they do come from Vancouver, where clean-cut is the rule.

The last time I saw Born Ruffians was as a warmup for a particularly dull Caribou show, and they were far and away the greatest element of that particular evening. I was impressed enough to buy their record on the way out, which never happens now that I'm old and cynical. and after listening to it at home, I was even inspired to purchase another copy to give to my sister for christmas - and if you realized the esteem I hold for my sister's musical taste you'd appreciate that this is high praise indeed.

In conversation with someone before the show, I mentioned that I was heading down, and they commented that they really liked the song with the yelping - which didn't really help me much. See, one of the key components of the Born Ruffians experience is the way that all three members join together in a staccato hey-hey-hey-ha-ha-ha yelping as both the central focus of many of the choruses and as backing vocals for the verses - think of the annoying shouty songs on Modest Mouse records that you end up skipping, but then imagine it being awesome. The only downside to this characteristic sound is that as it becomes the central focus of each song, they can take on a little bit of a sameness, especially in a live setting.

They're a 3 piece, guitar-drums-bass (and it broke my heart when the bassist broke a string two songs in on a gorgeous thunderbird bass, only to switch to a crappy old replacement rather than repair the string (which admittedly is always a pain for a bass), and the drummer sets down a swampy rock and roll stomp which sets off the rest of the band quite neatly.

For a band that specialise in 3 minute bursts of energy, they played for a generously long time, and it was nearly 12.30 before I ended up hitting the streets. If you're out and about, I'd highly recommend you pick up their record on Warp (?!), or do as I did, and fork out a tenner on their self titled EP, and you won't be sorry.

righto - the Jona Bechtolt excitement train leaves from here - talk soon.

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