Monday, April 21, 2008

Joe's Garage, The Roxy, April 12, 2008

Disclaimer - the post that follows has nothing to do with music or anything interesting. It's also woefully out of date, but I didn't want to push the excellent Wilco review below the fold.
In these uncertain times, it can be difficult to know which way is up, and which way is down (especially when you move to the other side of the world and find that the water in the toilet doesn't actually flush in the opposite direction - if I had a dollar for everyone I've tried to explain the coriolis effect to, and who hasn't been convinced until I took them to the bathroom and proved that I could make the water go down in different directions based on whether I used the hot or cold tap to fill the basin.)

So, in order to make sense of life, and to give myself a basis to construct my ideological framework around, there are 3 facts that I know irrefutably to be true, that I can fall back on in times of self-doubt and crisis. They are:

1. Pearl Jam suck more cock than you do.
2. Bacon improves any food it is combined with.
3. If you play Prince in any social situation that includes a dancefloor, that dancefloor will fill with people.

Or so I thought.

But Saturday night, at the Roxy, I saw the opposite of #3 occur, where Let's Go Crazy sent them running for the bar, the toilets, the smoking area, and the exits. As my entire DJ career was based around the fact that even after I'd bore people into submission with obscure Norwegian pop-tarts, I could still fill the floor with the Purple one, and it pained me to see the exodus.

It was at this point that I stopped, and thought, how did I get here?

Well, I have a little bit of a drinking problem. Mainly the problem is that I quite enjoy it, and I'm remarkably good at it. But sometimes it leads me to say and do things that I end up cringing about the next day. For example, I vaguely remember telling a random stranger on Friday night that, when you strip it down to its base elements, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is essentially no different than "The Macarena" (and no, I'm not going to link to it - nobody needs to endure that). No matter that it was part of an elaborately constructed argument about how a classic pop song is nothing more than a couple of melodic hooks, it was an entirely inappropriate conversational subject for a chance meeting with a random stranger, and a remarkably stupid thing to say. And who do I have to blame? Well, mostly myself, but Mr Alcohol also needs to take some responsibility.

This same problem saw me lined up outside the Roxy on Saturday night. The Roxy represents different things to different people, but among my circle of acquaintances it is the very epitome of the trainwreck that is most of the bars in the Granville Street corridor in downtown Vancouver. There's always a line outside, that never seems to move anywhere, and the people in that lineup always look like bridge-and-tunnel kids. Having said all that, I've never actually been inside. So, when the chance came up head out for a few drinks with a friend, and he mentioned that he had some other friends heading to the Roxy, I was initially apprehensive, but eventually curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to tag along.

The Roxy was much bigger than I'd imagined, and the stage was filled with an assortment of gentlemen that looked like their best years were behind them. The lead singer looked a little like the lead singer of the woefully underrated band Auckland band of the late 90's, Pash. (who in turn looks like the guy in the Something About Mary duo that's not Jonathan Richman).

They were halfway through a Cars cover (sadly, not My Best Friend's Girl) as we walked in. While it was kinda empty as we showed up (were it not for the swift action of a friend of a friend, we would have been stuck at the back of a remarkably long line, which is just wrong for 8.40pm on a Saturday night), it soon filled with a crowd that seemed to be entirely comprised either with single women in their late twenties to early thirties without any imagination, who couldn't think of anywhere else to go on their one night out this month, and kids from the burbs who were there to prey on the others.

The band were unashamedly competent, as most covers bands are, and probably better paid than 90% of all bands I normally see (with the possible exception of Radiohead - I heard a rumour they're getting paid $600,000 to pay the Outside Lands festival in San Fran this summer), but the members looked like they were once contemporaries with the bands they were covering (and that they hadn't changed their wardrobes since the mid 80s). They also have the worst band name I've ever heard.

The keyboardist did China Girl with the third-best Bowie voice I'd ever heard live (after Mr Christopher Burton, and the man himself, in that order), but I suspect he was grotesquely ugly, as they made him stand behind a pillar. Occasionally they dipped into regions of the classic rock playbook that I'm not a huge fan of airing (for some reason, I never got the attraction of Journey), but for the most part, it was most enjoyable (although this is coming from someone whose standing orders for his tombstone are "Here Lies Glenn, he knew how to dance to classic rock" - although "Here Lies Glenn, who was tragically murdered by pirates" is running a close second).

The portions of the night where the band took a break were less enjoyable, and were the scene of the aforementioned Prince abomination. Luckily by that time my attention had been distracted by copious amounts of alcohol, and an empty ice bucket, so it didn't really matter.

PS - I've got a backup of show reviews that's nearly 3 posts long - I'll try and get one a night out through this week, now that I'm no longer working 12 hour days (and drinking for a good portion of the other 12 hours in the day). Not that anyone cares.

PPS - the overall air of smug superiority that invariably weaves its way through this post, is more a quirk of my particular writing style, and not really how I feel about people that go to the Roxy, and bars just like it (every town has one) the world over. I just can't help the way I write.

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