Friday, March 7, 2008

CMW - Day 1

For those of you who don't know, I'm currently in Toronto covering the CWM music festival. Now you know. While I'm sure I could try to be professional about this, like a real critic, I'll level with you; I'm here to have fun first, and to write about shows seventh. Yes, I get very drunk at shows. Yes, I heckle bands I don't like. Yes, I sing along to songs I love. Yes, I am a biased, crude, and judgmental reviewer. And yes, this is going to be pure fucking awesome.

Last night I went to the Tattoo rock club, and to give you an idea of the night, I have to go back there again tonight, before heading to the Horseshoe, because I got too drunk and left my Mastercard behind the bar. Go me. The lineup was pretty exciting; Econoline Crush, The Ending, Daniel Wesley, Rides Again, and Grady (fronted by the amazing Gordie Johnson).

In the 90's I was actually a pretty big Econoline Crush fan. You see, Trevor Hurst, the frontman of Econoline grew up in Virden, Manitoba; a town roughly 30 minutes away from my own little slice of heaven. Virden once boasted the teen pregnancy capital of Canada award, and who knows, Hurst may have had something to do with that. When I saw them on the bill, I was pretty stoked to hear them play, primarily since they hadn't done anything together in years. Hurst had left the band for a long time to put together a solo project called, go figure, Hurst. How or why the guys decided to reunite for a show was beyond me, but exciting nonetheless.

All that being said, I got loaded with my friends Dave and Andrea at some Irish Pub and missed them. I'm sure they put on one hell of a show.

After flirting with the coat check girl, I waltzed in the door (1-2-3, 1-2-3, for real real) in the middle of The Ending's set. While initially, they sounded like complete ass, I wasn't prepared to judge the group until I was truly "concert ready." After grabbing a pint at the bar, I finally sat back and took a listen to the Ending. They weren't actually that bad, they were worse. I will admit to being stuck in the 90's, particularly in terms of a great deal of my musical taste. However, this band was stuck in the bad parts of the 90's. Kind of like someone saying they really miss music from the 1970's, when in fact they're referring to Disco, not classic rock. Four old men stood motionless on stage and played repetitive power chord driven, vocal third integrated rock ballads. They were tight as all hell, but giving someone that compliment is like saying, "they fight well" for someone kicking the living shit out of a hallucinating, narcoleptic bunny rabbit with a broken rear leg.

Speaking of Narcoleptic, Jesse arrived with some of the TiB crew around the time this band finally had their 'Ending'. After this bitter opening, I was cautious of things to come. As such, when our second band (third for those of you holding a grudge about the Econoline thing) took the stage, I was ready to pounce, claws out. Daniel Wesley's first song sounded a bit like Sublime, so immediately, I chalked them up to some rip off band that didn't deserve the time of day. For the record, don't let me do things like that.

Even though the first song did sound like Sublime, it was very catchy, and I was starting to move. Their bassist also played like a funky madman too, for a scrawny white kid, and their drummer had cool, unpredictable flare. By the time they hit their second song, and were suddenly playing some sort of blues-funk fusion, I felt like the biggest asshole in the world. These guys weren't just good, they were fucking great. The remainder of their set showed these 3 gentlemen to be fantastic musicians who had found a way to blend ska, blues, funk, rock and pop into one beautiful, catchy as all hell sound. Their songs were amazingly well put together, and allowed for each instrument to take small flourishes and stand out for just long enough for the crowd to scream. Then, just to make me feel like a complete douche, they played a funky rock cover of Ginuwine's Pony. You win Daniel Wesley, you win.

I quickly ran to the back of the room to meet Daniel, buy any music he was willing to sell, and ask if he'd mind if I humped his leg. We had a nice little groin-to-thigh session, and then I ran back to the stage in anticipation of things to come.

(Seriously, will you let the fucking Econoline Crush thing go?)

Riding off a high from the previous set, I was quickly beat upside the noggin with a red pogo stick and shat upon by the diarrheasque sounds of Rides Again. I take a little notepad with me to shows to jot down ideas and important points to write about the next day. While I was a tad drunk, the following, which is a direct copy of what was written for Rides Again, should give you insight into my opinion:


Similar to The Ending, Rides Again was playing power chord, dick-rock with no inspiration. The bass was following the guitar progressions verbatim, the vocalist sounded like a failed Bon-Jovi impersonator, and they even looked like they were trying too hard. The only thing in the entire set which impressed me was apparently the roaring squak their guitarist unleashed at some point near the end of their set, but it was obviously not enough to sway me.

Grady, why you so shady? No notes, drunker than a Lemur (and those things can handle their booze) and practically hugging the monitor positioned at Gordie Johnson's feet, I sat in awe as I watched a fellow Manitoban prove to me that he is one of the coolest men in the world. He kept the chit chat to a minimum, the rock to a maximum, and made sweet fucking love to the vast array of Gibsons which graced his magical hands. His signature double guitar even made an appearance for two songs.

(Ok, this fucking ridiculous. Drop it. I missed the fucking set, and I'm sorry. OK? I'M SORRY!)

I'm not entirely sure what to tell you about Grady's set. If you've listened to their records, you know how amazing their sound is. As one of the best guitarists in the game today, Gordie Johnson lays down more heavy hitting riffs than anyone I know. Back him up with a rhythm section of Big Ben Richardson on bass, and the thunderous stomper, Nina Singh, and you get a God damned powerhouse on stage. I sang along like a drunken madman to Grady classics, and screamed my lungs out when Gordie decided to pull out a few of the old Big Sugar hits. It was one of those shows that will stay in my mind forever. If you ever get a chance to see Gordie live, don't even hesitate for a second, or I will find you, in the night, and I'll take my time with you.

... oh, and then I forgot my fucking credit card.