Throwback Thursday: The Weakerthans @ Babylon in 2001
Featured photo by: Brooks Reynolds
As many of you already know, on July 14, Winnipeg’s beloved band The Weakerthans called it quits. Now in all honesty, they haven’t released anything in a long time and haven’t toured for a while, but I am sure there were many fans out there like me hoping for another album. Especially after the treat that was John K. Samson‘s solo album, Provincial.
But enough about the sadness, The Weakerthans did that enough for all of us. They showed us all that sappy is punk even without power chords and they did so masterfully thanks to Samson’s amazing lyrics. I honestly hadn’t thought of this show for a long time, but as soon as I read the news of their breakup I had a flashback. Let’s go back together to that fateful night at Babylon in November 2001.
The Weakerthans’ set list from their November 2001 show at Babylon in Ottawa, ON.
There I am 14 years-old and standing in a packed Babylon with my dad, Steve, and mom, Lise, so excited for The Weakerthans. They were about to take the stage after an amazing set by this little, lesser-known band at the time. You may have heard of them… The Constantines.
The Weakerthans opened with a song I had never heard before, simply labeled “Elk’s” as you can see by the set list pictured (below/above) that my dad snagged and got signed. The song, “Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call”, would later find itself on Reconstruction Site in 2003, on their third album. Then without wasting any time they crowd favourite and high energy track “Aside.” I won’t give you a song by song breakdown, as the set list is posted, but it was really cool to hear new songs like “Psalm” and “Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961),” almost two years before their release.
Before most shows that my dad and I attended together we would always ask each other what were our must hear songs. You know the one that you need to hear or almost no matter how good the show it can’t be amazing without. Well, young teenage Eric loved one Weakerthans song beyond all others, “Wellington Wednesday”. Steve had one song that also rose above the rest, “This Is a Fire Door, Never Leave Open”. The most vivid memory I have of this show is the look of pure joy and excitement on my dad’s face before he cheered louder than anyone else as they started “Fire Door”. Three songs later it was my turn for glee as Samson played “Wellington Wednesday” which might as well have been just for me. As he sang the chorus “Oh, you’ve got green eyes / Oh, you’ve got blue eyes / Oh, you’ve got grey eyes,” I could not be happier. I had no idea at the time that they were New Order lyrics, but it wouldn’t have changed a darn thing. I actually have eyes that change from blue to green to grey and always thought that was super cool as a kid. That song cemented it and my undying love for Winnipeg’s finest.
The autographed back of The Weakerthans’ set list from their November 2001 show at Babylon in Ottawa, ON.
The other fond memory was seeing The Weakerthans live and realizing there really are two sides to punk, and that it is way more than just a sound. This was a man who came from Propagandhi‘s angry and political fast-paced music, to this often more slow emotional songs in forming The Weakerthans. But they were in no way less punk, they were just showing us a different way of doing it. They had the energy and excitement of a punk show, but coupled it with some soft and emotional tracks that could pierce even the toughest armour. And to top it all off Samson is kind of a goofball on stage and a super nice guy in person.
I found what I thought was the audio of the entire set of that amazing night in late November 2001 recorded from the live CBC Radio 2 broadcast. Unfortunately it turns out what I found is the audio for a show three months prior. Still really cool and worth a listen as the quality is amazing and the set list is very close to the one I saw almost 14 years ago. You can download it here.
RIP Weakerthans. Canada, and most specifically Winnipeg, mourns the loss of one of the best acts to grace this country for nearly two decades. So long to one great band.
Throwback Thursday: Growing Up Punk in Ottawa
By Matthew Gilmour
As an overly polite, 13-year-old, third-culture kid who had just spent his puberty in Singapore, I knew nothing about punk. I returned to Canada to spend my Grade 8 year at an urban priority school, where the teaching was poor and half the students were too. All of us lacked discipline, we had a lacklustre attitude and a grating sense of humour to prove it. I remember boarding the school bus with matching red shoes and a red baseball cap, oversized pants, a diminished disposition, and good manners that did not fit my image. Those good manners would serve me well later in some circumstances but certainly not on the vicious playground of this school, where “no fucks were given” and the middle finger was given regularly. Nevertheless, I blended in and immersed myself quickly. That year, I gained an enormous cultural competency, namely because I learned about three things: The Simpsons, slang, and punk rock.
I made a lot of friends that year but one such friend was particularly unique. Jimmy and I played hockey together and attended the same Christian youth group. We were, however, both interested in something more subversive–playing loud music for other people. We both had the same guitar teacher, who taught us jazz theory and modality before he taught us “Yankee Doodle.”
We had terrible equipment but Jimmy had an adventuresome and entrepreneurial spirit. He also had something that was just as valuable: an older friend in a local punk band called The Cobras. Later that year, we performed our first set with them at a show we had organized ourselves, for an audience of seven, in the basement of our local church. The Cobras all had leather jackets with dyed jet black hair, and had snuck in whisky in McDonalds cups. Performing for them without any approval from our families made us feel grown up, important, and like a bunch of badasses. We were clearly anything but.
However, playing our own punk compositions and being part of something was exhilarating as all hell and we were proud of it. Later in life, we would learn that being part of something meant belonging to a community.
At age 14, we would eventually record a single with a member of The Riptides. We had it released on a compilation, alongside other regional and local punk rock heroes. We then recorded a split CD with one of our favourite bands, Take One For The Team and sold out our CD release show with them at SAW Gallery. SAW frequently had all-ages shows where we could play with touring out-of-town favourites or local ringers that were looking to have fun and garner an audience. Things moved quickly for us, and we learned that there was an entire community of underaged kids just like us, who had all formed bands like ours, and who performed at SAW Gallery on a regular basis, exactly like we did. Those kids are still friends of ours today. Many of those friends are part of our local creative community. Some of them have pursued careers in photography, film, fashion, food & wine, and other facets of our local industry. It’s also safe to say that when I frequent amazing restaurants or bars in this city, I almost always run into friends working there that I know from that period in my life. In those instances, we can quote our favourite songs and sometimes each others’ songs verbatim. This is partly because we know each other well but mainly because we learned how to belong, how to be strong, and how to be supportive of each other.
I switched schools again the following year. This time to a gifted school that was more inclusive and pluralistic. It was also the kind of place where someone in Grade 9 would have a repertoire of Edgar Allan Poe jokes, so you can imagine how cultured some of those kids were.
To go with a new learning environment, we found new opportunities to play independently organized shows. The range of venues where a young person could perform expanded and diversified, along with our friends and social interests. I began performing or attending shows and concerts at neighbourhood community centres, Babylon Nightclub, and Bumpers (now The Works in The Glebe). My friends Martin and Adam introduced me to subculture, and I began to consume culture from local and independent sources. At the age of 16, the lens of punk introduced me to the concepts of activism and advocacy, media literacy, independent media, civic justice, animal rights, sustainability, and sober, straight-edge culture. As my understanding of the world became more complex, so too did the music I created.
Buried Inside at Club Saw in Ottawa – December 17th, 2004. Photo: Junked Camera
We began to play music influenced by artists that were much older than us. We adopted the tastes and turbulent behaviour of others for the same reason that we had started playing music in the first place. Being creative was incredibly fulfilling. Punk was awfully exhilarating. It felt important–that we belonged to a culture that was bigger than us. The grandeur of performing for local heroes, and having local heroes become peers was humbling and gratifying. We respected each others’ art, and by nature respected each other. I began performing at house parties with university students and full-blown adults, and shared both smiles and the stage with local acts like Buried Inside (affiliated with Invisible Cinema), Robot Kill City (Male Nurse), and Van Johnson (members of Big Dick).
Matt Gilmour slaying it as the guitarist of We The Accused at Club Saw in Ottawa – December 17th, 2004. Photo: Junked Camera
It was also around this time that I met my best friend Alex Maltby, who arrived at my high school from Belleville in Grade 11. I invited him to sit with my group of friends on his first day. He had been playing music in Belleville for quite some time, and from my understanding, was already a staple in the all-ages music community there. Upon arriving in Ottawa, he began collaborating with friends to form acts like This Soft Light, Coast, and Fire Heats Water. He recorded my math-hardcore band We, the Accused and played bass in my math-rock band The Curviture. Members of Coast and Fire Heats Water also played in HAMILTON. Through some act of unintentional interconnectedness, we all became bound together, and cooperatively and collaboratively brought each others’ vision to fruition. We actualized each others’ art. We contributed to our community.
Without an inkling of doubt, the music community and punk subculture have had a huge influence on my life. They have given me rare life experiences, changed my consumptive patterns, fostered my creative interests, effectively been a determinant in my identity, and allowed me to connect with many more people and ideas than I would have normally. For those reasons, I am deeply grateful and indebted to my friends, many of whom I still see and smile with today.
I am also even more grateful to the people who saw passion, potential, or part of themselves in my art. It is through their voices, all singing in unison, that I found my own.
Throwback Thursday: Heartbreakers by Brights
By Pierce McKennirey of Those Gulls
I love the Heartbreakers EP by former Ottawa band, Brights. Though short in length, it packs in a ton of great melodies that brought me back to many of the bands that first got me into music.
In particular, the tracks “Home” and “Five Year Plan” really stuck out to me. Every time I heard Home,” I could picture a crowd of friends, family and fans gathering around the band to sing along in those memorable “Whoa-oh-oh’s!” that dominate the chorus and outro. It was feel-good music with lyrics that resonated with me. To be honest, the lyrics hold true today, for anybody searching for a bit more meaning in their mid-20s and beyond.
“Five Year Plan” also hit home with a super-catchy, singalong chorus. It touched on the issues faced by those commencing adulthood, and to me, sounded like it focused on the responsibilities and challenges associated with “growing up.” After a beautiful guitar solo, gang vocals round out the song at the 3:25 mark.
The three other tracks (“Operate Me,” We Are Getting Restless,” and “Heartbreakers“) were also strong pop-punk songs that hit an emotional note with honest lyrics and catchy guitar hooks.
From what I understand, members of this band are still playing and writing in bands such as The Gallop, Stay Classy, Sound of Lions and more. If I’m lucky, maybe we’ll see a 10-year Brights reunion show in 2018 (fingers crossed!). Whenever I want to have a nostalgia trip, I throw on Heartbreakers. Solid, all-around!
Heartbreakers EP from Square Up Records.
Call for Submissions: What’s your throwback story from the Ottawa music scene?
We here at Ottawa Showbox are officially putting out a call for submissions for Throwback Thursdays. We want to hear from you with your stories from days gone by. It’s our belief that these stories help to put together a cultural history of the music scene, and even more, build a collection of stories and perspectives from a diverse group of people. Maybe there’s some lost footage or photos out there that most of us have never seen before, or perhaps a favourite band or show from decades ago that may stand the test of time.
– Which Ottawa band was your favourite back in the day? Why?
– Is there a particularly memorable show that you went to? Tell us about it!
– Was there a popular (or underground) club that used to put on great shows regularly?
– Is there an album from the past by a local band that is close to you? Tell us why!
– If you were/are in a local band, got any ridiculous tour stories for us?
– Is there a person that is/was an integral part of the scene that deserves an honourable mention?
Lots of choices! Now rack your brains and send us your write up to music [at] ottawashowbox [dot] com. We’ll publish it soon in one of our Throwback Thursday features.
Throwback Thursday: Billy Talent @ The Tulip Festival 2004
Benjamin Kowalewicz, lead singer of Billy Talent, rocking out at the Tulip Festival in Ottawa in 2004. Photo: Brian Garson (Junked Camera)
With the Ottawa summer festival season now behind us I thought it might be fun to look back to one of the festivals that used to really kick ass musically, the Tulip Festival. The Tulip Festival used to bring in some heavy hitters, for example Billy Talent, Glass Tiger, Reverend Horton Heat, Trooper and many more in 2004. Sadly the festival no longer brings in those types of musical acts, but on the plus side Ottawa does have a plethora of music festivals now compared to then.
Unfortunately for me, I missed out on most of the bands listed not named Billy Talent, but this bothered me very little at the time as I was really into the band from Mississauga, ON. Billy Talent rolled into town riding their hugely successful debut self-titled album. I am pretty sure this was one of the first times I had seen them live and could not get over how much lead singer, Benjamin Kowalewicz, danced and posed like my beloved rock god Iggy Pop. However the comparison ended there, Kowalewicz had a very different sound, he was more of a screamer.
The show was very high energy, enetertaining and filled with all my favourite songs from the debut. Songs like the hit single “Try Honesty,” the super punk rock track “Voices of Violence,” the darker “Nothing to Lose” and one of my all time favourites by the band “This is How It Goes.” Other than the dance moves, the most memorable moment was when Kowalewicz grabbed a fake tulip close to four times his size and ripped it to shred. The staff standing in the side stage area looked horrified and while the crowd erupted and loved every minute of it.
Interesting facts about the self-titled album, in 2005 it was ranked number 453 in Rock Hard magazine’s book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time and in 2007 it was certified three times Platinum in Canada. Feel nostalgic like me and relive Billy Talent’s debut album, streaming below for your listening pleasure.
Throwback Thursday: The Flatliners @ Maverick’s in 2010
With life being so busy right now, I thought it might be fun to throwback to the article I sent to Matias when applying to write for Showbox. I sent in a few of my clippings, and later found out that The Flatliners piece was the one that excited him the most as he is a big fan. So check out this throwback to 2010 when the Flatliners rocked Ottawa!
The Flatliners hit the stage Friday night December 10th with their skate-punk style and a little ska-flare, as snow fell in the capital.
The boys from Richmond Hill, Ontario pulled out the big guns early, playing their new single “Carry the Banner,” as their second song. The crowd got into it right away, the pit never stopped and the patrons at Mavericks chanted along for the whole set. When the band launched into “Eulogy,” lead singer, Chris Cresswell, had a hard time getting in a word as almost every person crammed into the venue was belting out the chorus.
The Flatliners played a good mix of new and old, allowing for moshing or skanking depending on what you fancied. They played “Christ Punchers” off of their new EP, Monumental 7″. Chris introduced the song by saying, “I don’t care what you believe in … but I believe in reality, I don’t believe in any of that other shit because some of it leads people to do terrible things.”
One of the highlights of the show was the band’s merch guy, who, dressed in full gym attire, sweat bands and all, performed jumping jacks and push-ups randomly during the set from the side of the stage.
Opening for The Flatliners was Naples, Florida, four-piece dance party, Fake Problems. The band never took breaks between songs and provided countless sing alongs and clapping opportunities getting the crowd quite involved. The one time the band did slow down to breathe, they started freestyling Will Smith’s classic made-for-movie song, “Wild Wild West.”
The Menzingers, the pride of Philadelphia, tore up the stage with their old school 90s punk rock sound. They opened with “I Was Born,” as they sang the chorus with passion, “Oh my God it’s been far too long, send my thoughts to the firing squad.” The crowd was so into the band you would have thought they were the headlining act. There are just not enough bands still kicking around playing this upbeat and real sound of the punk rock I grew up on.
It was not all punk rock at this show, Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck brought a more rock’n’roll edge with their set. They reminded me of what Attack in Black would have sounded like had they listened to more Replacements before recording their follow-up to Marriage (and one of the guitarist looks a little like a young Tommy Stinson). During the first song one of the guitars broke, but they hammered through on a back up and closed out their set with a stellar track called “Brooklyn, NY.”
The local entertainment was provided by Currents, a three-piece growing in popularity in Ottawa. The bass player told the crowd not to buy their album but to download it and to spend your money on the touring bands that really need it. It was a nice touch by the opening act.
Boys Night Out @ Babylon in 2003
Boys Night Out lead singer Connor Lovat-Fraser looking pretty in pink at Babylon Nightclub in Ottawa in 2003. Photo by Junked Camera
Last week I recalled the tale of how epic Alexisonfire were on a fateful day in 2003. Today I will tell you of how Boys Night Out, a little-known screamo band from Burlington, Ontario, helped me feel more confident and reinforced many of my punk rock ideals that same night.
Boys Night Out played before Alexisonfire, and they were not as heavy but were a great blend of pop-punk and screamo. The band was just about to release their debut album, Make Yourself Sick, and played a lot of new music which was exciting, as well as some tunes from their earlier EPs. For anyone who was not really aware, lead singer Connor Lovat-Fraser, transformed his dark and murderous short stories into lyrics or concept EPs (like concept albums but shorter). So while the new material was very much of the emo and screamo variety, the older stuff was the inner working of the mind of a serial killer he had created, very cool stuff. But I digress…
Boys Night Out lead singer Connor Lovat-Fraser getting up close and personal with the crowd at Babylon in Ottawa in 2003. Photo by: Junked Camera
What I remember most of Boys Night Out’s performance has nothing to do with their music. The music was great, but what struck a chord was when an ignorant showgoer called out the lead singer for wearing a pink shirt. The snarky sarcastic remark as the band took the stage, “Hey, nice pink shirt man,” was met with, “Damn right it’s a nice shirt, and I wear it proudly because real men can wear pink.” This really hit home for my 16-year-old self. It reinforced the idea that there are no gender limits to colours, to be comfortable with who you are and that I should think and dress how I want. I had been dealing with being bullied for my appearance quite a bit in high school, like many others, so this was very powerful to hear. If he can come into a room filled with no one he knows, and most not even there to see him, and have such confidence and be so comfortable, anyone could.
This was one of the most punk rock things I had heard from a lead singer on stage, and it happened at a screamo show. Check out a few videos below of the great early workings of this now defunct band.
Throwback Thursday: The Summer of ’88 — The Stand GT @ One Step Beyond in Ottawa
By Chris Page
The Stand GT didn’t play Ottawa much in our early days.
It wasn’t that we weren’t shown any love in the nation’s capital. It had more to do with our proximity to Montreal, being from the rural county of Glengarry. We were very connected with that scene and were fortunate to be playing shows with legendary Montreal bands like The Gruesomes, Deja Voodoo, Jerry Jerry, and of course our touring pals Ripcordz.
Our first show in Ottawa was at the Downstairs Club on Rideau Street, which became Lucky Ron’s, then The Hi-Fi and is now a Beer Store. We opened for scene vets Fluid Waffle (who later became Furnaceface) and I would have met Dave Dudley (Dave’s Drum Shop), Slo’ Tom Stewart (Spaceman Music) and Patrick Banister for the first time that night — great guys who I’ve been friends with ever since. But my memory of that evening is pretty hazy over 25 years on.
I do remember two things from that show: Fluid Waffle covered the place in exploding bags of white flour during their set and, not related, the members of The Stand GT were barred from the Downstairs Club for life.
Whatever. It was a trumped-up charge that didn’t take.
The road trip for our second Ottawa show is slightly more memorable.
We were psyched to get a show at an all-ages club called One Step Beyond and this time around we were endorsed on the poster by The Gruesomes very own John Davis. Getting kudos from a bonafide Canadian indie star was a major coup for a young garage band from the sticks.
Actual poster for the show that still hangs in the old rehearsal ‘chicken coop’! Note the little Gruesomes logo with quote that says, handwritten: “Bassist John Gruesome: These guys are great. I highly recommend them.”
One Step Beyond was an all ages club on Rideau Street that existed from 1986 to 1988. As Tom Stewart says in a great write-up here, for such an important venue in the Ottawa underground scene, “…in hindsight, it’s a miracle the club survived as long as it did, considering it was trying to pay the rent from the sale of soft drinks and fruit juice.”
I don’t remember the exact year of The Stand GT’s show at OSB, but I think it was the Summer of ’88. We all lived in Glengarry at the time and were still attending high school. A buddy (affectionately nicknamed “Happy”) graciously offered to drive us to Ottawa in one of his company trucks. Friends with access to trucks or vans to haul our gear to shows were extremely hard to come by. And in those days, an offer of free beer was the main currency in The Stand GT’s barter system.
The day of the show we met at Doug’s family farm early in the afternoon and waited for Happy to show up. It wasn’t long before I realized we’d be travelling in a refrigerated vegetable delivery transport truck with a 20 foot cargo-hold box. To give perspective on its size, it was about half the length of an 18-wheeler.
I’m not sure who agreed to the plan for all of us to ride in the back because, of course, there were no seats, let alone seat belts.
Without letting common sense get in the way, youthful exuberance prevailed and the loading began: drums, amps, guitars, two-fours of Labatt’s Blue and bags of chips. The ride to Ottawa was about two hours from Glengarry, so sustenance was required. If memory serves, there were six of us back there with two up front in the cab.
Once loaded, we climbed up into the cargo hold to test our pal’s generous road trip accommodations.
I can still remember my surprise and concern when they closed the big hinged doors on the back of the truck. It was pitch black in there.
With our eyes fighting to adjust from bright sunshine to extreme darkness, I remember focusing on a tiny rust hole emitting the only natural light in the back of the truck. The hole wasn’t big enough to poke a finger through and we knew we needed a better solution to our lighting situation.
Soon we were banging on the doors to climb out and rustle some flashlights from Doug’s dad who was shaking his head at us from the back porch of the farmhouse.
Another thought soon crossed my mind: refrigerated truck would probably mean “air tight” cargo hold, correct? What if we ran out of oxygen on the trip? With six of us in there, surely fresh air wouldn’t last long.
Doug and I put our heads together and quickly came up with a MacGyver-worthy solution to build a rudimentary messaging system to our driver should we start to lose air out on the open road.
We tied strings of bailer twine (used for making hay bales) and secured one end from the steering wheel in the cab. We ran the twine out the drivers side window, over the top of the truck and down into the cargo hold, through those big back doors. No air? Simply, pull on the rope. I relaxed knowing Happy would feel a little tug on the steering wheel and pull over to save us from suffocating.
With our comfort secured, the road trip to Ottawa began.
The back of that truck had the feel of a rolling, low-budget discotheque. The flashlights illuminated the anticipation on our faces and we started to sway down the road. The portable cassette player was cranked as we passed around bottles of Labatt’s Blue.
Doug balanced two beer bottles between his stretched out legs as he sat on the floor of the truck with his back against one of the side walls. I remember the flashlight dangling, hung around his neck while he changed the strings on his guitar.
Wally sat on a case of beer, his own flashlight beaming up from a shirt pocket, creating a creepy effect on his face as he chugged beers. It was a look that would do Lux Interior proud.
Chris Page & Doug MacPherson live with The Stand GT circa 1988.
Though the refrigeration unit was off, there was enough oxygen and the concerns over lack of air were soon forgotten. We were rolling down the highway with that hard-to-describe feeling of freedom and youthful excitement. This was a trip that would see our young band play a big show in a big city that night. And we were amped up by the fact none of us had a care in the world.
Until someone had to pee.
Little did I know my emergency twine concoction would be used to request a toilet break as opposed to being the instrument of a desperate plea for air. When I nonchalantly reached to pull the twine, my smugness turned to a sinking feeling which I’m sure no one noticed in the flashlight ambiance of the steerage discotheque.
The twine was completely pinched in those big metal doors. There was no way to reach the driver.
Of course, at the realization of this turn of events, an overwhelming feeling came over us: we all had to pee.
After a short, frantic and semi-drunk discussion, our friend Zimmy was the first to suggest a plan that involved an empty chip bag and the aforementioned small rust hole at the bottom of the doors. The hole may not have been large enough to put your finger through, but it was certainly large enough to empty a chip bag, filled with liquid, out onto Highway 417.
Doug MacPherson and Glen ‘Wally’ Wallace rehearsing, circa 1987.
The rest of that evening is a blur. Happy did get lost on the way into Ottawa so we spent about 3 hours in the flashlight disco. I wish I could remember what was on the cassette player back there: the soundtrack for an experience none of us will forget, but still can’t remember.
I do remember One Step Beyond was a cool venue and we made many new friends that night. One of those pals was Alan Wright (R.I.P.), an underground music lover from Kingston, then Seattle, who had a terrific fanzine and who would become a huge champion for the band in the many years to come.
The ride home was a much more relaxed and comfortable affair for specific reasons I won’t mention here. But you can ask any of us about the rest of the story sometime. All in all, that Ottawa trip led to an incredible chain of events that would take The Stand GT on an amazing journey, lasting many years.
For more information on One Step Beyond, there’s a fantastic write up about the Nation’s capital punk/alt/hardcore history by Ottawa legend Slo’ Tom Stewart on the Ottawa Explosion site. Of course, you should also listen to and purchase The Stand GT.
We’d love it if you did.
Throwback Thursday: MxPx at the Civic Center in 2001
Today we throwback to when I was 13 and loved me some pop punk.
It was the summer of 2001, the summer before I entered high school. My parents got me tickets to see one of my favourite bands at the time, MxPx and some other bands at the civic center. I could not have been more excited.
The night began with supper at Mexicali Rosa’s on Bank Street (R.I.P.). My father and I walked in and it was empty, except for the all three members of MxPx and their girlfriends!!!! I was so giddy I could barely handle it. We ordered and ate, all the while I kept looking over to see what they were doing and eavesdropping on their conversation. Finally I gathered the courage to go talk to them, with a lot of help from my dad. We chatted briefly, got my ticket autographed and then I asked if they would play my favorite song, “Doing Time.” The song is a teen anthem comparing high school to jail, perfect for my angst-ridden 13-year-old self.
The waiting game began as I had to sit through (well stand through) two bands I had never heard of and listen to Willie Nelson between bands (it was the On the Road Again tour). The opening acts were Ultimate Fakebook, a three-piece power pop band from Manhattan, KS and this little band from Maryland you may have heard of led by two brothers Joel and Benji, Good Charlotte. Ultimate Fakebook had really catchy hooks, cool vocals and impressed me. In writing this piece I just found out they reunited, re-launched their website, recorded new material and still play every once and a while. The other band, Good Charlotte, who later went on to major radio success, were super boring, felt fake and disappointed me, even as a 13 year-old which was their target demographic I believe.
A few more Willie Nelson songs and it was time for MxPx (which stands for Magnified Plaid). Their set was killer, playing all the songs I loved and had me bopping up and down and singing. Near the mid-way point of the set lead singer and bass player, Mike Herrera, said, “this one is for Eric.” When they started playing “Doing Time” I was on cloud nine just melting and screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs. It was one of the greatest moments in my young concert-going life. The rest of the set was great and just when I thought it couldn’t possibly get close to the high of hearing them dedicate a song to me, they covered “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash during the encore to even get my dad singing.
It was a magical night of pop-punk and the perfect story to brag about as I began high school. Thank you MxPx.
Throwback Thursday: The Replacements and Goo Goo Dolls @ Barrymore’s in 1991
By Steven Scharf
On February 18, 1991, I finally got to see The Replacements live. Ever since reading a review of Let It Be by Robert Christgau in the Village Voice in 1984, I was infatuated with this band of misfits from Minneapolis. Let’s just say, they were my favourite thing.
The show took place at Barrymore’s Music Hall, one of the best venues for live music that this city has ever offered. It seemed like every band touring the Montreal-Toronto corridor ended up playing there. Think the Cramps, Iggy Pop, Social Distortion, the Pogues, Teenage Head, Dead Milkmen, to name a few. Gord Rhodes, who I believe ran the club from 1978 to 1991, really put this spot on the map.
Barrymore’s was as packed and as hot as I had ever seen it. While waiting for the openers to start their set, The ‘Mats bass player Tommy Stinson could be seen walking around the club with what looked like a martini in hand, perfectly complementing his white smoker’s jacket. The Goo Goo Dolls came on and played a really great set to further heat up the place.
Touring to promote their album All Shook Down, the crowd erupted when The Replacements came on. Starting off with the 1-2 punch of “I Don’t Know” and “I Will Dare”, throwing in a couple of covers (Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash) and ending the night in perfect style with “Left of the Dial” and “Alex Chilton,” I remember the place being one happy, fist-pumping sing along.
Heading out into the February cold, the fanboy in me was grinning from ear to ear. Truly one of the best shows I have ever witnessed.
Here’s the set list:
“I Don’t Know,” “I Will Dare,” “Achin’ To Be,” “Waitress In The Sky,” “Skyway,” “When It Began,” “Nightclub Jitters,” “Someone Take The Wheel,” “Cut Across Shorty” (Eddie Cochran), “She’s A Goer” (Johnny Cash), “Kiss Me On The Bus,” “Talent Show,” “Asking Me Lies,” “Nobody,” “Color Me Impressed,” “Can’t Hardly Wait,” “I’ll Be You,” “Bastards Of Young,” “Within Your Reach,” “Little Mascara,” “Left Of The Dial,” & “Alex Chilton.”