Tales from the Road: My Ridiculously Fun Year of Concerts-Part 1

Adding up just how many concerts I went to see this year was both hilarious and a bit crazy.  Did I really go to see that many shows this year?  Yup.   And I loved every second of it.   And I realized it’s not just the music, it’s all the memories of the crazy-ass fun times that go along with them.  So here is Part 1 of my Year in Concerts – and I’m not a 20-something guy with nothing else to do.  I just love seeing live music – I really can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night (or any other night for that matter) than going to see some great live music, so I just do it, whenever I can.  And if a trip out-of-town is involved, so much the better.  Road Trip!!!

DECEMBER

Incura with Stand Down at the Media Club.  Incura’s last show before they start recording their new record.  Played the doors off their old stuff.  Just a fantastic night.  Stand Down was new to me but they didn’t disappoint – I’ve got their CD release party at Venue  marked on my calendar for January 20th.  

Wil with Shaun Verrault at the Media Club.   I had seen Wil previously opening for another band at the Commodore and wanted to check out his amazing songwriting and guitar playing again.  The big surprise for me that night was Shaun Verrault – somehow Wide Mouth Mason had stayed under my radar, but no longer.  He was fantastic.   I’ve got WMM’s shows at the Yale on  January 14 and 15 marked down.

Blue Rodeo at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.  Oh yeah, this is the one we sort of “crashed”.  Brilliant night.  See my blog post “We’re not Groupies, we’re Band Aids” for the whole sordid story. 

NOVEMBER

The Dreadnoughts at the Rickshaw.   What can you say about a celtic/folk/punk band that does the encore in their underwear (and they were NOT Calvin Klein’s, let me say) and sprays the crowd with cider from Super Soaker water guns?  How about awesome show!   They are off to Europe to tour their record Polka’s Not Dead in the new year.  Loved them, can’t wait till they are back in Vancouver.

ROCTOBER (not a typo)

One of the highlights of my year – seeing local band (and friends) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes opening on the AltPress/Nike Airwalk Tour at the House of Blues in Vegas.   Any reason to go to Vegas is a good reason, but to see your friends on stage at HOB, opening in front of a packed house – amazing.  And the guys killed it.   Way to go, it could not have been more fun, or more exciting.  They are currently hard at work writing and rehearsing for Canadian Music Week in Toronto in March, but I”m looking forward to some Vancouver shows soon guys!  I’ve posted a number of their videos previously – just check my archives.

I also first heard Emarosa that night and I have a new obsession.  Holy crap, as someone else commented on You Tube, their singer, Jonny Craig, could sing Wheels on the Bus and it would sound awesome.   A Toast to the Future Kidsis the song getting the most attention off  their new record; my fav is Truth Hurts While Laying On Your Back and I’m giving up some vid space to it, I love it that much.

Gogol Bordello at the Commodore.  What’s with this band – do they cast some crazy gypsy punk spell during their concerts?  I’ve never seen a show like it, and as you can see I’ve seen a lot of shows.   First, and you can imagine how much I loved this – everyone shows up in costume.  It wasn’t Halloween, but it sure was a close approximation at the Commodore that night.   Top hats, fox tails, bikinis, punkers, gypsies, belly dancers – you name, people wore it.  When Gogol came on the place went ballistic.  It was like some primitive dance/orgy fest.  People getting (all but) naked, everyone jumping and dancing, hot and sweaty.  Holy crap.   Now I know why they sold out THREE NIGHTS and there were no tickets for sale on Craigslist, only people looking for tickets.   Anytime they are in town, sign me up.  And if I ever lose my mind and decide to get married again, I’m playing their song, American Wedding  and it’s going to be my theme.  Love it!!!!!  There was an opening band – don’t remember who tho . . .And I’m pretty sure we went to another Gentlemen Prefer Blondes  show the night after this, but quite frankly, I wasn’t at my best . . just saying. 

Anberlin with Civil Twilight at the Vogue Theatre.  Relatively sane venue, relatively sane night.  Anberlin were touring Dark is the Way, Light is a Peace.  Even sitting down (something I try to avoid) I really enjoyed the show. 

SEPTEMBER

Train with Ryan Star at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver.   Agggg – this night ended up being fondly know as the “Train-wreck”  owing to my somewhat careless consumption of about a 25 shots of tequila . . .   I don’t know what I was thinking . . . .I do know better, but thank God for the wingman that night who had the dubious honour of dragging my sorry ass into a cab and getting me home, all the time wondering if she should take me to emerg for alcohol poisoning.  All I can say is, I learned a harsh lesson (again).   But before things got so out of control, loved, loved, loved Train.   About the only Train songs I knew before this were Soul Sister and Drops of Jupiter, neither of which are really indicative of what this band can do, and the amazing live show they put on.  Absolutely worth going to see. Ryan Star had his 15 minutes of fame on Rockstar.  He was a good opening act that we enjoyed – another acoustic rock guitar guy, but a good opening act.

Squamish Live.  Yes, we were among the few brave souls that ventured up to Squamish on the freezing cold long weekend.  It was more like November than the end of summer – people were wearing toques, down jackets, gloves – and they needed them.   But the upside was that we bought 2 weekend passes from some guy on Craigslist for $60 all in.  Sweet.    And it was so uncrowded, it was the easiest going concert security ever and there were no line ups for the beer gardens, food, porta’s  – nothing.  And I got to be in the front row to see Bad Religion!!!!!!.   I’m a huge BR fan, I love their lyrics, their music . . .everything.  But usually I wouldn’t be in the front row at one of their shows – the pit gets really rough.  But because of the mixed crowd at the festival  it was pretty tame (well by BR standards . . ) so there I was, front and centre, over the top excited.  And they were just awesome.    Here is Jay Bentley being . . well Jay.

We also saw  Civil Twilight and that was one of those things where you don’t expect much but were really pleasantly surprised.  These South African guys are best known in North America for their contributions to the Twilight soundtrack – not really a high recommendation for me – but we really enjoyed their live show.   So we were excited to see them again later in September opening for Anberlin.    I hope that the Squamish Live festival continues, it has real potential.  The musical line-up was all over the map – it was sort of a Folk Festival/Warped Tour mash-up.  If I was deciding on the line up, I’d make one day folkie land and one day rockin’ land.   Cause really, following Bad Religion with the Decemberists was just a little weird.

The year continues in Part 2:

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