I've been to the West End Cultural Centre numerous times over the years, but I've never seen a nearly sold-out crowd packed inside. In fact, it's usually quite the opposite. Cobra Skulls, Broadway Calls and The Flatliners played to a fairly empty room. And while attendance was up for Protest the Hero and Moneen, it still felt cold and empty. I'm not too sure why Winnipeggers came out in droves this time, but I guess I shouldn't complain. He definitely deserves it and England Keep My Bones is one of the better records that came out in 2011 so far. Maybe the fact that it was a Saturday had something to do with it too, I really have no idea.
Anyway, things did start off slower for Into It. Over It., but that's usually the way it is for the opening acts. I was able to grab a spot right in front of the stage and was there for the rest of the night. Evan is the first person I've seen to sit down while performing at a show like this. He had a little stool and he sat there for the entirety of his set, hunched over his acoustic guitar. He was very talkative, but he doesn't really talk with the crowd. Instead he just talked to the crowd. He started off the set talking about Winnipeg and continually remarked about how polite and friendly we were. He also liked to go into detail about the songs he wrote, giving us background on them. He told various little stories, like how his bike got stolen and some kid put it on Craigslist so he was able to get it back. And of course, he still had time to actually play songs. He ended his set with "Anchor" and played tracks off of his new full-length Proper.
Andrew Jackson Jihad played an entertaining set with just an acoustic guitar and stand-up bass. It definitely inspired me to check out the material in further detail. They seemed to have a number of people in the crowd who were huge fans, there were some big sing-alongs and some people were even shouting out requests. At the end of "American Tune," some guy in the crowd shouted "Fuck white male privilege!" really loudly. Other songs included "Rejoice" and Jesus Saves," the crowd participation remaining enthusiastic throughout. And for "Love Will Fuck Us Apart," Evan came out and played the kazoo. They were the least talkative act that night, choosing to focus on playing their acoustic-folk-punk songs instead.
And of course, Frank Turner. The opening bands were good, but they definitely didn't come close to what Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls had to offer. The room was packed and the crowd went crazy. It was a diverse crowd too, there were a number of people who looked old enough to be my dad. But the crowd still got pretty rowdy and the politeness Evan was talking about earlier started to wear off. Some dude jumped on stage and grabbed Frank, trying to hug him and refusing to let go. A security guard came on stage five seconds later to haul him off, which is something I haven't seen in awhile. There was also some fighting, which Frank called out from the stage. And heckling too, AJJ did nothing about the fans calling requests, and Frank was quick to silence them.
But all that made the show slightly more interesting, for better or worse. I saw Frank a little over two years ago when he opened up for The Gaslight Anthem at the Garrick. It was just him and his acoustic guitar, so it was cool to finally see him backed up with drums, keyboards, electric guitar and bass. The bass was loud in particular, you could really hear the bass-lines and sometimes they entirely overpowered the actual guitars. They were all wearing matching white shirts and they were all very energetic, moving and jumping everywhere. It was nice to see some energy because the opening acts remained quite still.
He opened with "Eulogy" to a loud cheer before going into "Try This At Home." About halfway through the set, the band left the stage and Frank Turner sang "English Curse." He also played "Dan's Song" alone and encouraged everyone to play "air harmonica" before the band returned. Crowd participation was a huge part of this show, he really wanted everyone to sing along and get into it. Seeing everyone sing "There is no God" during "Glory Hallelujah" was a pretty cool thing to experience.
He played "Long Live The Queen," "The Road," and then launched into a cover of Queen's "Somebody To Love" before coming back for the encore himself. With just an acoustic guitar, he proclaimed his love for Propagandhi and The Weakerthans before strumming the opening of "One Great City," changing the lyrics slightly and ending with "I love Winnipeg." I've been going to shows here regularly since 2007 and I've never seen people attempt this song until this year when I witnessed two covers. Dave Hause and Mikey Erg played this song back in June too.
The last track of the night was "Photosynthesis." Frank gave his acoustic guitar to Evan and he jumped around the stage, getting the crowd ready for the biggest sing along yet, where everyone was to shout "And I won't sit down and I won't shut up. And most of all I will not grow up." Frank really knows how to bring his songs to life and you can't get that same experience sitting in your house and listening to them on record. It was a great way to end an amazing night. And totally worth attending even if I got soaked because I had to walk there in the middle of a gigantic thunderstorm.
I ended up missing Brighter Brightest when they were in town two weeks ago and in some ways I'm kind of glad because this show on their way back to Toronto appealed to me a lot more. Mostly because of the venue, I don't really like The Park Theatre, but The Death Trap is awesome. I've seen the most shows there this year and it's quickly becoming one of my favourites in Winnipeg. We needed a small all-ages venue and this more than delivers.
Plus the opening local bands appealed to me a lot more this time too. First up was The All Night, one of those guys is an AbsolutePunk member and has sent me numerous private messages so it was cool to finally see his band. They were pretty decent, I had to miss some of it because of an interview with the headliner, but from what I caught I enjoyed. Recognized songs like "Wasp Country" since I ended up with their EP through my work placement at Uptown in January. Next was Dangercat who I caught with Living With Lions. Their set didn't change much, there was more moshing, but that was about it. Apparently they have a new drummer too. It was good though.
And Brighter Brightest, they had a pretty good turnout and sounded great. They sounded a little rough performing on MuchMusic a few weeks back, but that certainly wasn't the case last night. They kicked off their set with "All I Know" and "Everyday," which are the first two songs off of Right For Me. They continued with new songs before launching into a cover of "You Know How I Do" by Taking Back Sunday. It sounded awesome and I hope they release a recording of it sometime. That's who I think of when I listen to this band so it was the perfect fit in many ways. I don't think of The Maine, I think of TBS, Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line and Brand New's Your Favorite Weapon. They're bringing back the sound AbsolutePunk was founded on and unlike countless other bands they actually do it justice. They tossed in "Welcome Home" off of their EP, which is the first song I heard by them. And then they closed with the title track "Right For Me." It was a very intimate set and I'm really glad I got to experience it. I think these guys have the potential to blow up in Canada and while I'll go see them regardless, I do prefer my shows like this.
"I'm confident this is one of the best fucking line-ups you'll ever see," said Against Me!'s Tom Gabel, before launching into "Don't Lose Touch." And in a lot of ways, he's absolutely right, especially since I grew up on all three of these bands. They're still some of my favourites and to see them together on the same bill was pretty awesome. And the fact that this line-up is pretty much exclusive to western Canada made the show even better. Living out here, you get used to losing all the amazing tours to Toronto and for once I can say we ended up with the better deal.
It's best to see Against Me! without a barricade, but even with one they can still deliver an amazing show. They played a fairly diverse set, especially compared to the last time I saw them play an arena. Some people were into it, but most of the crowd seemed indifferent until they played their radio hit "Thrash Unreal" at the end. I usually hate it when bands don't talk to the crowd very much, but somehow Against Me! can pull it off. They're one of the more energetic bands you'll see live and it's great to just watch them play.
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
White People For Peace
Don't Lose Touch
Because Of The Shame
Walking Is Still Honest
Sink, Florida, Sink
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
The band I was most excited to see that night was Rancid and they definitely lived up to my high expectations. I was fortunate enough to catch them at Rock on the Range two years ago, but their set was incredibly short and it was raining so I was glad to catch a longer show. Tim Armstrong came out solo in his trademark leather jacket and hat, wearing sunglasses. He addressed the crowd and launched into "Radio" with the rest of the band coming out shortly after. The way he carries himself and the crowd, moving all over the stage, bending his mic stand, few guys come close to him. I can honestly say he's one of the best front men I've seen perform. I was wondering if they might be a bit rusty, especially since this was their first night and they haven't toured much, if at all, this year. But they weren't. Lars was just as energetic, especially when it was Tim's turn to sing and while Matt didn't move around as much, it still looked like he was having a blast. Same with Branden, I still think it's so amazing he left The Used to join up with Rancid.
They had a gigantic backdrop and used two of Blink's screens, but since there weren't any close-ups they probably could have done without. Rancid were on stage for an hour and played at least one song off of all their records. Their 2000 self-titled was mostly ignored and not surprisingly, most of the tracks came off of ...And Out Come The Wolves. It would have been nice to have heard "Hoover Street" and a few more from Life Won't Wait, but I wasn't too surprised. They made a good choice and and the crowd was definitely into it. Maybe I wasn't the only one who was most excited for Rancid after all.
Last One To Die
Journey To The End Of The East Bay
East Bay Night
It's Quite Alright
Outta My Mind
The 11th Hour
Fall Back Down
And of course, Blink-182. While I was mainly there for Rancid, there's no denying my love for Blink. And if I never got into Blink, who knows if I would have picked up any Rancid records in the first place. By now the floor was pretty much packed full of people and I'm glad I had seats. I discovered just how much I hated pits in arenas at their reunion show in 2009. I read Alex's review and I honestly think it sums up the show I saw as well. I agree that this was their best yet, although I'm not too sure if that was because I could actually pay attention to what was happening onstage this time. The guys sounded great, but they were lacking the energy Rancid had. Their set was very flashy, they made much better use of the screens than Rancid did and no matter what, Travis' drum solo will always be amazing. The confetti cannons at the end of "Dammit" add a nice touch too.
The set-list seemed to be identical, but they might have added in a few more joke songs. And of course, the guys delivered with their usual stage banter. Before "I Miss You" someone tossed a bra to Tom and they made a joke about big testicles before Mark put it on. The new songs sounded good and made me even more excited to hear Neighborhoods. Ultimately I'd say the show delivered, although some people behind me loudly complained that they didn't play "Adam's Song" when it was over.
Up All Night
The Rock Show
What's My Age Again?
I Miss You
Stay Together For the Kids
Happy Holidays, You Bastard
Heart's All Gone
Ghost On The Dance Floor
All The Small Things
When You Fucked Grandpa
And even though they won't read this, I want to thank Blink for remembering western Canada because not enough American bands do. They could have opted out like My Chemical Romance, but instead they came and put together an even stronger line-up.
This was my first time seeing Stu because school made me miss the last two shows. And he was awesome, definitely more energetic than Matt was. It was a crazy show compared to last time I saw them. That’s getting to be a long time ago too, all the way back in 2008 with Carpenter and Aspirations. Matt was even sick that night so Chase had to take over the vocals.
Although I shouldn't be too surprised by the craziness. I heard some dude almost cracked his head open and had to be taken to the hospital in April. The crowd was bigger than the one for Sharks, but it still didn’t seem like they sold it out. I think it was the perfect venue for them. It was mostly less talk, more rock. Except when Chase broke a guitar string and Stu started telling a story about how he staple gunned some guy in the chest earlier that week. My favourite part was hearing “Maple Drive Is Still Alive” because that song is absolutely amazing. I was blown away the first time I heard it and they did the live version justice. “A Bottle of Charades” was fun too since the crowd really got into it.
This isn’t the exact set-list, but it’s pretty close. They only played for about 40 minutes and no encore or anything like that:
Later Is Better
Mark Has Bedroom Eyes
Maple Drive Is Still Alive
When We Were Young
A Bottle of Charades
She’s A Hack
Heartsounds were decent. The vocals sounded a little fuzzy, but I think that was the venue’s fault and not theirs. They played three new songs (“Drifter” “Elements” “Don’t Talk With Your Mouth Open”) and the rest were from the first record. Their set was about the same length and they took some time to chat with the crowd. Apparently it was Laura's 25th birthday last night.
Dangercat opened and they had a bigger crowd than Heartsounds. I know they’re local, but still! Those people could have stuck around, especially since the Living With Lions guys made the effort to show up in the crowd. Anyway, I like the songs I grabbed on Facebook. I liked them enough to give them a news post. And while I enjoyed their set, they didn't blow me away like I was expecting they might. They're still a new band though so I'm definitely not writing them off at this point.
They could have skipped us, especially since they totally skipped Saskatchewan, but NOFX returned to Winnipeg for another show yesterday. Last April, I was just excited to finally see them play, but this time I was more interested in seeing how this show would compare to the last. Because let's face it, some bands have pretty rehearsed sets. Especially if it's only been 14 months since their last show.
Instead of getting Tony Sly to open, they chose Old Man Markley, one of the newer bands on Fat. At first the crowd wasn't so sure what to make of them, but by the end of their set everyone was cheering and they totally won everyone over. People were even starting to mosh near the end, which I found rather amusing. The band sounded great and they're the only band I've ever seen with a washboard player. They performed their cover of Screeching Weasel's "The Science of Myth" and tunes off of their debut. I don't think they're a band I'll ever listen to regularly, but they're decent live.
Teenage Bottlerocket brought the pogo party with them again. Their set also seemed shorter this time, but maybe it's just me. They opened with "Skate or Die" but after they launched into "Radio" instead and followed that with "Bigger Than Kiss." Ray remembered the kid from last April, the kid who was standing on someone's shoulders, pumping his fists and rocking out the entire time. One difference was they played all the songs off of their new 7" Mutilate Me. Ultimately, I wish I could see TBR in a more intimate venue. I think it's hard to truly experience them in a large theatre with plush red seats. Especially when a good chunk of the crowd can't be bothered to show up early and watch their set anyway.
NOFX walked onstage and talked to the crowd for a few minutes before actually shutting up and playing a song. I still think they're one of the only bands who do that, but I actually like it. Some of it was similar, Fat Mike acknowledged that kid again and decided to mention felching before starting to call out other people standing in front. As the set wore on, he talked about Winnipeg, obviously mentioning Kent and Limo. But he also mentioned Chris Hannah from Propagandhi because apparently he was at the show somewhere. And much like Face to Face last month, he praised the "older" people in the crowd for still liking punk music and going to shows.
They definitely switched up their set a little bit. "Seeing Double at the Triple Rock," "Linoleum," Creeping Out Sara," and "Mattersville" popped up again, but they dusted off other songs too. "The Pharmacist's Daughter," "Perfect Government," "The Man I Killed," and "Herojuana" weren't part of last year's tour. But perhaps the best was when Fat Mike said they were going to do a Dropkick Murphys cover and played Rancid's "Radio" instead. Really stoked we got to hear that. They also played "My Orphan Year" and Fat Mike began to paraphrase his Cokie the Clown SXSW story about his mother's death. They ended before the encore with "The Separation of Church and Skate," a song I was hoping they'd play last time, but they didn't. Old Man Markley returned with them to play "Door Nails." And they ended their set with "Kill All The White Man" before "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist" came on. The band did their little dance again, which is a lot more amusing than just walking off stage abruptly.
Pretty much the only downside was the crowd. Last year I had no problems, everyone was cool. This year it was like Blink-182 all over again with tons of annoying dudes who were super drunk and/or high. Yeah, not my crowd at all, but whatever. The bands ruled.
I covered my first punk show as an Uptown freelancer last night. I started off with helping compile the Best of Winnipeg feature. Then I did some smaller articles and some CD reviews. And two weeks ago I convinced my editor to let me cover the show last night by talking with Mockingbird Wish Me Luck. I interviewed Mike and Bishop over the phone and this is the final result. I don't see myself leaving AbsolutePunk anytime soon because I feel like they're two entirely different formats. But I do hope these opportunities with Uptown continue:
Anyway, the show was really fun. It was supposed to be at the Albert, but they moved it to The Death Trap, which is right underneath The Fyxx. There wasn’t any stage, it was a basement show. And I felt really lucky to see two amazing up-and-coming bands so up close and personal. Not as intimate as an acoustic show, but still incredibly intimate nonetheless. This is one of the reasons I love punk rock.
But this show and the one last week made me think about an article I read on ChartAttack or someplace like that. It said that the average Canadian only attends 2.3 shows each year and seeing the turnouts really makes me feel like that statistic is true. I don’t think a single person was there that night for the money, but at the exact same time money makes it possible for them to drive from one end of North America to the other. It’s a nasty double-edged sword.
Anyway, Mockingbird Wish Me Luck killed it. Their set was really short, but I can’t say I’m really surprised because the band hasn’t even released a proper full-length yet. There were no gimmicks, they didn’t say much to the crowd, but they sounded great and their songs prove they’re one of the best punk bands in Canada right now. Finally seeing songs like “American Homes” and “Orphans of a Storm” live ruled. A local band played before them, but unfortunately I didn’t catch their name.
And Sharks. I finally got around to listening to The Joys of Living 2008-2010 and I was blown away. I loved “Sweet Harness” the second I listened to it and that doesn’t happen very often. I wouldn’t say the band is doing anything too different, but I think they write better songs and do it better than most. And they were just as great live. A little more energetic and talkative, their singer James would stand in the crowd before running back to the front of the room. Most of their set was songs from that record and yes, they did play “Sweet Harness.” At the end the crowd convinced them to play one more song and they decided to launch into a cover of “I Fought the Law.”
Definitely one of the shorter shows I’ve attended, but also one of the more memorable. Not that it matters in the end, but both bands have joined up with some big independent labels and will have some promising full-lengths to release in the future. I hope more people start to realize how awesome they are because they definitely deserve the success.
After attending the show last night I realized just how much acoustic punk shows rule. I mean, I saw Tony Sly open for NOFX last year and while he was amazing, it just wasn't the same. It was a bigger venue and of course, the other two bands that night weren't performing solo. This time the crowd was small, but everyone was stoked to be there. There was pretty much no wait times between sets, the show went from 9:30 to 12:30 with very small breaks in between. And best of all, it felt like we were just hanging out at someone's house, talking and listening to awesome music. I seriously don't think shows can get more intimate than they were last night.
First up was Greg Rekus. It took me forever, but eventually I realized he's in a local punk band called High Five Drive. And he was pretty good! He demanded the audience's attention, was incredibly energetic and covered "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" by The Ramones. He also played the kazoo.
Mikey Erg wasn't as lively, but it suited his style well. I'm honestly not as familiar with him as I should be. But I think he summed it up best when he opened up his set by saying "I never thought I'd be in Winnipeg." I don't think I ever expected him to tour here. But I'm glad he did, I like his vocals and will make a point of checking his stuff out further. He was also the only one who wasn't performing acoustically, he used a plugged in electric guitar. And for the last two songs, Dave Hause came up to join him. They both ended with "Books About Miles Davis" by his old band The Ergs!
And then Dave Hause took over completely, kicking off with "Time Will Tell" and playing other songs from his solo record Resolutions like "Pray for Tuscon." He played some Loved Ones songs and talked a lot with the crowd when he was finished playing. Like he asked us what shows we were going to see next, about where to eat in the city and stuff like that. He also made a Travis Barker joke when he caught a girl yawning near the front, haha. It really added to the show in my opinion and it was really cool to experience. And then Mikey Erg came back up to play some songs with him. The best was probably their Weakerthans cover. And someone (who was obviously standing near me, thank you) captured the whole thing so I'm just going to post it here:
Not going to lie, it's pretty hard to top that. But Tony Sly did a good job. He brought a friend of his along to play some acoustic parts, but it was mostly just him, his guitar and a little bit of harmonica on one song. He played some No Use For a Name songs, like a really awesome acoustic version of "Dumb Reminders." "Not Your Saviour" and "Justified Black Eye" were tossed in as well. And of course, he played a number of songs off of 12 Song Program. He was also pretty talkative with the crowd, but not nearly as talkative as Dave. And he mentioned on stage that a No Use For a Name record is coming, but he's going to release another solo one first. He said September 30, but that's not a Tuesday so I don't know if that's really the case. Excited to hear it though.
P.S. Thanks to Dave for the shout-out on stage. I was not expecting it and you totally made my night. So thank you!
Probably the best thing about seeing Face to Face Monday night was seeing the lasting power punk rock can actually have. I know I've been told numerous times that 'it's just a phase' or 'you'll grow out of it' and I'm sure lots of other people have as well. And in some cases, this actually is true. I have some friends who would go to these shows with me in high school, but now that we're entering our 20's, their tastes have moved onto other things. But I'm still the same, for better or worse. And seeing a bunch of 40-year-olds rock out onstage to a crowd of people from different decades proved that something special is going on.
The first band of the night was a little Canadian band I've been plugging on this site called The Artist Life. Sadly they had to open doors earlier than planned and not a lot of people had arrived in time for their set. I seriously walked right up to the barricade, stood in front of Dean and felt like the band was putting on a personal show for me. Nice experience, but the band needed more love that night for putting on a killer show. Their set list was what I expected, they played newer songs like "Working Class Revolt," "Impossible" and they ended with "Steel City." Songs from their EPs like "Let's Start a Riot" and "Sleep So Sound" also popped up. They had great energy, sounded amazing and I was really glad to finally see them live.
The second band I didn't know was on the bill until I was interviewing Trever. They're a Californian punk band called The Darlings and the more songs they played, the more I started to like them. They're singer's got a good voice. As a whole band, they sort of reminded me of Pennywise, but maybe it's just me. The only song I recognized was an Operation Ivy cover. They did "The Crowd" and I thought that was pretty awesome
I feel like Strung Out deserves honorary Canadian citizenship because they make a trip across the country every year. If only every American band loved us as much as they do, then I'd be set. Anyway, my last time seeing them play the Garrick was in 2007 and not much has changed. Their set reminded me of how I should listen to their records more often, I never got into them like I got into No Use For a Name. They played for about 50 minutes, the crowd went crazy for "Too Close To See" and that was it. They're definitely a less talk, more rock band.
And Face to Face. Again the best part of their set was the crowd. They actually sold the Garrick out and that doesn’t happen very often. Although NOFX sold out an even bigger venue last year too so I don’t know. It seems like Winnipeg has a lot of older guys who love 90’s punk. But pretty much anything else gets overlooked. Newer bands like The Flatliners never get anywhere close to the same turnout. Ever.
They opened with “You Lied” which I thought was a great way to start things off, it’s actually one of my favourite songs by them. They definitely stuck to an older set-list and Trever promised the crowd that for every new song they played, they’d do five old ones. And at the end of the night, I’d say that ratio was just about right. But I also think people dug the new material so I don’t see why that should be an issue. I’ve heard the new record and it’s got some great songs on it.
There were lots of awesome sing alongs, it was clear that there were a lot of huge fans in the crowd. And my favourite one was probably for “Disconnected.” I think this is a lot of people’s first Face to Face song, I heard it when The Punk Show was still airing on MuchMusic and immediately after I had to check the band out further. And Trever welcomed it, he’s a really great front man who’s not afraid to interact with the crowd. He really talked to the crowd, not at the crowd, throughout the show. And near the end of their set, he asked what the name of their new record is and when it’s coming out and he definitely got a loud, enthusiastic response.
And now, for no real reason, I'll leave you with an old relic from the band's last Winnipeg show. And I know they won't read this, but big props to them for kicking this tour off in western Canada. I never attended their last show because I was a 12-year-old girl and it was a bar show anyway. So how did I get it? The poster was in the gigantic stack of stuff Rob gave me so I could pass my IPP. And he still hasn't expressed interest in getting any of it back so I'm not too sure if I can buy some sticky tack and cover my walls. Or if I should keep it safe in my drawer like I have for the last four months:
A few songs into Tokyo Police Club's set last night, Dave Monks remarked that this was the millionth show the band has played in Winnipeg. And in some ways, he's not over-exaggerating too much. They're always playing here, so many Canadian bands are playing here, but I never really got around to seeing them until last night. Which is kind of sad because my number one job on this site is to promote Canadian content. My excuse? CreComm. But now that it's over, I figured there was no better way to celebrate than by checking out a show I wouldn't have had the energy to check out otherwise.
First up was Dinosaur Bones, who are on Dine Alone Records just like TPC. I had listened to a single once, but never really thought much of it. The good news is their set was actually pretty good and made me want to give them a second listen. They've got some catchy tunes, they sounded great live and weren't afraid to interact with the crowd. All essential for any good performance in my books.
But Said the Whale was way better and I hate to admit I never listened to them before. I've heard of them. I know they won a Juno this year and they're on my list of Canadian bands so some user on this website has told me about them along the way. But I never got around to it last night. And wow, they blew me away. This might sound lame, but not since TAT opening for MxPx and Lagwagon has a band extremely impressed me based on their live show alone.
Basically, they did everything Dinosaur Bones did, but better. Their songs are even catchier, I don't know how to describe them, but they kind of remind me of Library Voices a bit. I can't really tell you what all they played because I never heard the songs before. But I picked up some of their stuff and I recognize some tunes. Like "The Gift of a Black Heart" and "This City's a Mess." And "Camilo (The Magician)", this song was seriously stuck in my head and when I got home I absolutely had to find out what it was called. They had great energy on stage and weren't afraid to talk to the crowd, their big story was about how they played a hockey game with TPC earlier that day. And they ended with a ukulele!
So after Said the Whale I knew one of two things. Either Tokyo Police Club was somehow going to pull off being even better and this could possibly be one of the best shows I've attended in my life. Or they would slightly underwhelm me, which was sadly the case. Not that they were bad, but Said the Whale stole the show for me. Of course, I'm not the biggest TPC fan either. I really like some of their songs and I can enjoy their records, but I feel like they're just a tiny bit overrated. Just a bit.
And this show just proved my point I guess. It was very less talk, more rock. It also got better as time passed, the second half of their set was the best by far. It was also filled with most of their singles, which the crowd seemed especially excited to hear. Like "Your English Is Good," "Wait Up (Boots of Danger)" and "Bambi." And "Frankenstein" which is one of my favourites off of Champ by far. Their guitar player really knows how to shake a tambourine, it's actually quite amusing and probably my favourite thing about their performance. They ended with "Cheer It On."
Honestly, after ages of going to nothing but pop-punk shows and seeing bands like Protest the Hero, this show was incredibly refreshing. And it made me realize even more just how much amazing music is being made in Canada right now. Would I still like to see my favourite American punk bands? Yeah. But we have plenty of good music up here too and I look forward to seeing more of it.
Before I begin, I just want to say I didn’t get to sit down with Tony Sly after all due to time constraints so if you saw this post and cared, I’m sorry.
Anyway, wearing all black, Tony Sly hit the stage for 20 minutes and opened with “Via Munich” then went straight into “Already Won.” Of course, most of the songs came from his debut solo record 12 Song Program and they sounded great in a live setting, especially one like the Burton Cummings Theatre. Filled with red, plush seats, it’s not the typical place you’d expect to see a punk show, but it worked well for his set.
I’m sure he was expecting to get heckled for No Use For a Name songs, which he did. “I’m just here to make the other guys more punk,” he said before launching into an acoustic version of “Justified Black Eye” off of Leche Con Carne, giving them what they wanted. Earlier on in his set he played “Soulmate,” which is one of my personal favourites from NUFAN. His voice sounded amazing as always and with nothing more than his acoustic guitar, he proved he really is one of punk’s better vocalists that night.
Next up were Teenage Bottlerocket, one of Fat’s newer bands and they killed it when they opened with “Skate or Die,” a song that will get stuck in your head with just one listen. Their bassist Miguel was banging his head throughout most of the set just like he does in the video for that song. Ray nearly did the splits a few times while strumming away at his guitar too.
Then they played “Radio,” which might remind you just a bit of the Ramones. After playing “Forbidden Planet” the band stopped to acknowledge Winnipeg’s own Propagandhi and attempted to cover one of their songs in honour of them. They went through an impressive amount of tunes like “Welcome to the Nuthouse,” “Blood Bath at Burger King,” and “On My Own,” but when you specialize in 2 minute pop-punk songs, it's not surprising they squeezed a lot in. Just like their records, it seems like it was over just as it began, not that it’s a bad thing though. And despite the seats, they got a little pogo-party going.
The headliners of the night were none other than NOFX and I have to say they put on one of the more entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. Forget the phrase "less talk, more rock" because they love to talk and I think it’s great. While there are a few bands that can pull off the silent treatment, shows are usually a lot more fun when you get the interaction bands like NOFX give. If I just wanted to listen to their songs, I’d probably just stay home.
And not to anyone’s surprise, Fat Mike started off the set by talking, not playing a song. The stage set-up was pretty bare, but it didn't matter because they didn't need anything flashy to start the show off. He decided to tell the crowd what felching was and acknowledged this 11-year-old kid who was right up front, dancing like crazy and just having a blast before heading into “Dinosaurs Will Die.”
I was impressed with all their Winnipeg banter. I’m not too sure if they know this much about every city they play, or if it’s just because Kent and Limo apparently used to live here, but it was awesome. Bif Naked, Stretch Marks, The Royal Albert Arms, mosquito jokes, these guys knew their stuff. In fact, the longest they ever kept quiet was when they launched into the NOFX classic “The Decline.” El Hefe played the trombone and the crowd’s energy was insane.
For “Reeko,” Fat Mike started playing guitar instead of bass and then they played another off of Punk in Drublic called “Leave It Alone.” Between songs Fat Mike put a bra on Melvin and religious beliefs were made fun of before “Leaving Jesusland.” El Hefe brought out his trumpet after and then the guys began making fun of each other on stage with jokes like: “What did the Mexican kid get for Christmas? My bike.” for "Arming the Proletariat with Potato Guns." Not the funniest perhaps, but it proves just how eager they are to make lame jokes about themselves.
For the encore, Melvin started singing a bit of that Black Eyed Peas “I Got a Feeling” song and got booed. Fat Mike gave his lecture of the night when he said don’t do drugs until you’re 30 or a millionaire. Then they said they’d be back in 3 years, El Hefe brought out his trumpet again and they played “Kill All The White Man.” But even that wasn’t it since “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” started playing. It was hilarious to watch Fat Mike try to dance and El Hefe did a cartwheel. It was a fun way to end an already entertaining show and you could tell they were having a blast too, which is just as awesome.
Went to the show last night, here's my take on it:
After playing a surprise show just weeks earlier at a small bar called The Albert, it's weird to see them move up behind a gigantic barridade at the MTS Centre. They still killed it though, as they kicked off their shorter set with "Hail Destroyer" and played other tracks like "Lucifer's Rocking Chair," "Pneumonia Hawk" and of course their Beastie Boys cover "Sabotage" among others. The venue was still pretty empty for their set, but the ones that made an effort to show up early didn't seem let down at all. The interview with Liam went well, expect it in 2-3 weeks along with the one with Alan from Four Year Strong. I was told that a headlining tour will be happening around this fall so get excited for that!
It took me awhile to really appreciate Against Me! and Tom Gabel's voice, but once I did I was hooked. Because of this, I also missed them when they've come through in the past so it was nice to finally see them. With the awesome album art for White Crosses hanging, they walked on to "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" and tore right into "Rapid Decompression." Even though it just leaked, they played a lot more new songs than I was expecting. Even "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" which totally made me smile. They are one of the few bands that truly sound better live than on recordings and it made up for the fact that they barely talked to the crowd:
I saw this band headline the Burton Cummings Theatre in 2007 and near the end it turned into a gigantic party. They invited everyone on stage, ran through the crowd and George even climbed up to the second balcony, without using the stairs. I have never seen a band get the crowd so involved and create such an intimate performance. They simply played last night though and while I'm not surprised at all, I know that this band can be capable of a much more with a longer set and a better venue. That's my only complaint however, they still sounded great and stuck to a lot of their newer stuff. They still haven't headlined Canada in support of Old Crows/Young Cardinals so it made sense:
There were lots of kids and parents at the show last night waiting for this band and it kind of reminded me of when I saw Billy Talent back in 2003 when I was in grade 7. Mind you, their debut wasn't released and I was there for Sum 41 but still, it's a much different vibe than the shows I usually go to. You can hate on Billy Talent for making the same record all you want, but I'm happy to see how far they've gone. At least in Canada, the United States still hasn't caught on to one of our most popular bands. And really, no other band even comes close to sounding like them.
Anyway, they kicked off the show with "Devil in a Midnight Mass." Ben is still an amusing frontman and I like how he's not afraid to talk to the crowd. He held up an 87 jersey and talked about Canada taking the gold for hockey, just as an example. And someone in the pit brought a Canadian flag with them and was holding it up so that was pretty awesome. Of course, the MTS Centre started to get crazy too. I guess a man punched a woman in the face and I'm not surprised at all. Whenever you go to that arena, you can be assured people will get hurt.
The highlight was probably when Tom Gabel from Against Me! came up to sing "Turn Your Back" with Ben. He said that never happened before, but I think he was just saying that. Anyone confirm? The lights and stuff were basic and just OK. Ian added on an awesome, slightly longer solo to "Devil On My Shoulder," the second last song of the night so that was cool. Anyway, here is the set list: