Show Reviews

Where: Shank Hall – Milwaukee, WI
When: February 17, 8:00pm
Opening Act: Vietnam

There was a period in the early 90s when my taste in music really started to take shape. Sure, the early British Invasion exposure my Mom introduced me to would stay with me throughout my life…but my teenage rebellion period led me down a different path for a decade or so. I like to refer to those years as The Decline of Midwestern Civilization: The Metal Years. I’ll talk more about that soon.

Anyhow, The Lemonheads opus It’s A Shame About Ray was one of the first staples in my new-found “alternative” diet. The accessible pop songs that Evan Dando crafted were easy to strum along to on my guitar and equally as fun to sing out of key to with the windows rolled down on a summer road trip. Accompanied by classics like The Posies’ Frosting On The Beater and Buffalo Tom’s Big Red Letter Day the three albums were the soundtrack of my summer. They also inspired me to dig deeper and start discovering their influences.

Last night’s Shank Hall show was the first opportunity to see The Lemonheads that I took advantage of. I’ve been exposed to a lot more music since the days of worshiping at the Dando throne…but there was still a small amount of excitement left to see him perform. I think one immediate thing that made the event less intimate for me was not being familiar with the members of his touring band. Former Pieces bassist Vess Ruhtenberg and drummer Devon Ashley joined Evan onstage for the “electric” portion of the show. Yeah, that’s what I said,”WHO”?

Evan looked higher than the burnout that sat next to me in study hall my freshman year. Basically, what I’m telling you is he was completely disconnected from the audience the entire show. From the opening notes of “Stove” throughout the encore closer, he hid behind his disheveled mane. When you could see his extremely bloodshot eyes, he was looking up at the ceiling. It felt as though Dando was mailing it all in. I couldn’t help but wonder if the stop at Shank was somewhat of an inconvenience to him? Did the frigid Wisconsin weather take what little life is left in the man?

It wasn’t a complete disaster though. The crowd’s reaction to some of his songs really added a heartbeat to the experience. Highlights from the “electric” set were “Alison’s Starting To Happen”, “Bit Part”, “It’s A Shame About Ray” and “Rudderless”. My friend John’s noticeable reaction to the song he wanted them to play (“Great Big No”) was also quite pleasing.

Dando came out for an “acoustic” set accompanied only by his Gibson. This was the most enjoyable portion of the show for me. Even though the spaciness of “Dippy Dando” annoyed me early on, when he played solo, it all seemed to add up…the Lemonheads no longer exist, it really is just Evan Dando and whatever hired hands are joining him. I’m OK with that, I really am.

Joined by some of my favorite concert going friends from the Milwaukee area, the evening was the great escape from my weekly 9-5 that was needed. If any of you Milwaukeens are reading this, do yourself a favor and pick up some Speed Queen Bar-B-Q…I’m still digging under my fingernails for more of that saucy goodness.


February 3, 2007
Double Door – Chicago, IL

We’ve recently been experiencing some pretty brutal weather here in Wisconsin. I was almost convinced at one point that venturing to Chicago in such conditions was assanine. I did it anyhow. This would probably be the last opportunity I’d ever have to see Redd Kross and I’d be damned if Mother Nature was going to get in my way.

After spending the night in Milwaukee, my friend Terry and I decided to hop the early morning Amtrak to the Windy City. It just really wasn’t worth the hassle of worrying about where to park and hoping that his vehicle would start when we needed it to.

Several hours, a Renaldi’s Pizza, a nap, and various electrical shocks from our motel later…

The doors were supposed to open for the show at 8pm, so we departed early and spent some time at Reckless Records. On our way past the club, we got to watch the band perform “Mess Around” during soundcheck. It was far too cold to stand outside for long periods, so we ventured to a local Starbucks and warmed up a little. We got in line shortly after 8, but the doors remained closed for a significant amount of time. Terry and I went to the building across the street and continued to wait for the doors to open. A few others had the same idea and joined us in our windless retreat.

By the time the doors finally opened, I was somewhat chilled and couldn’t find the patience to give the first band that played (Hushdrops) the attention they deserved. I went to the lower level to warm up and resurfaced when Frisbie hit the stage. I had just interviewed Steve Frisbie a few days earier, so I was somewhat excited for their set. Frisbie’s high energy performance was the slap in the wind-burned face I needed. The chill slowly departed and the excitement for the McDonald brothers to play increased with each song that passed.

An ear to ear smile found its way to my face when Redd Kross launched their set with “The Lady In The Front Row”. The band flawlessly plowed through one song after another (“One Chord Progression”, Switchblade Sister” and “Bubblegum Factory”), but it wasn’t until Jeff McDonald set his guitar down and grabbed the mic to perform “Annie’s Gone” that I was truly won over. His exaggerated motions and hand movements were enough to make Jarvis Cocker look like a stage novice. His brother Steven was an equally cool presence to watch. Looking suave in his three-piece, he shared vocal duties on several songs (set closer “After School Special” being my favorite).

Guitarist Robert Hecker will more than likely travel with a circus one day. The man is a freak onstage! Imagine if David Byrne and Jim Carrey had a lovechild. Now, imagine that lovechild being taught to walk (barefoot, nonetheless) by Elastic Man. Surreal! It was clear that the band were really enjoying themselves onstage. Their enthusiasm was infectious. At one point, I found myself lunging forward like a teenage school girl to grab a drumstick that Roy McDonald tossed on stage. Good times!

The band took a short break before returning for an encore. They opened with “Follow The Leader” and closed with a cover of Kiss’ “Duece”…I don’t recall what was in between. What I had just experienced was well worth every second of braving the subzero winter elements. Well worth every second of sitting in Terry’s car at the Amtrak station praying it would start after we returned. Well worth every penny of the cab fare it took to get me back to my car to return home. I think you get my point.

Special thanks to Wes for sharing the photos he snapped at the show!!

Okay I know I am late to posting this, but oh well, get over yourself. Cause here it is better late, than never, I always say…

The Joel Plaskett Emergency
w/ Two Hours Traffic and Machete Avenue

Call The Office – London, ON (Canada)
Friday, November 24, 2006

The opening act for the night was a local, London band, Machete Avenue. They’re a two piece consisting of piano, and guitar and voice. I can’t say they’re really my cup of tea, but I certainly think they will have no problems finding an audience. They seem poised to catch the hearts and ears of pretty much any dealing with puberty and high school aged girl. It’s certainly something worthy of a deep (like the deep end) moment on the OC. They ran through a short, opening set, got the night going.

Next on the evening was my little surprise. You see, when I found out Joel Plaskett was coming to town, and to such a great, small venue, I failed to do much (read: any) research as to who was coming-with. In fact that was all bypassed when I went straight to the fist pumping, [/slash/] alerting my brothers and wife about the J-Diddy show. But imagine my surprise when my little brother, the evening of the show, let ole John know the opening act was none other than Two Hours Traffic. A band that I have already warned you about like a month ago with a review of their Isolator EP. I told you. Go buy that, now. And thank me later. Seriously? What’s the delay? Get it dipshit!

Okay, so yah, here I was getting a double dose of two bands from the east coast of Canada, whom I happen to really be keen on. Two Hours Traffic did nothing but impress me for their entire set. They delivered all the songs I had grown to love, and even ones I didn’t know yet. And they were super tight, and seemed to really enjoy making and playing good rock. Stand outs on the evening were “Better Sorry Than Safe” and of course my favourite, “Stuck for the Summer”. Those boys from PEI, and now Toronto, are destined to win your hearts over with good straight up pop rock and roll.

Now, my friends, is what we call the pièce de résistance. You see Joel Plaskett is somewhat of a Canadian Indie Rock icon. Dude used to be in the band, Thrush Hermit. But they split up and he continued on, making what I contend is the best music going these days. As Canadian as waking up, running outside, lifting your beaver pelt loin cloth and peeing behind your igloo.

He took the small stage with his Emergency and owned our hearts and ears for a jammed pact show that included three fricken encores. Of course he indulged us with all the faves like “Extra Ordinary”, “Million Dollars”, “Happen Now” as well as others. My highlight of the night was “Love This Town”. It’s my favourite song by him, thanks to CBC Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence. And every time I hear him play it, I gotta side with Grant… the hairs on my neck stand right up.

So what am I saying? I am saying if you get yourself the chance, you most definitely need to go see Joel Plaskett live. It’s a evening spent being reminded what the power of good music can do to make the rest of the daily shit we deal with, float away.

And the good news if you don’t know what I am talking about, you can go to CBC Radio 3 and see the video footage from him playing at See Vous Play.

Or you can just take my word for it and do yourself the favour.

John Teeter

Shout Out Out Out Out w/ Bocce
@ Call The Office, London ON

How great is it going to see Shout Out Out Out Out and Cadence Weapon hops up on stage?
The answer is very!

Yah so last night they played here in London and they fired on all cylinders, knocking the Call The Office crowd into a floor bopping frenzy of jumping, sweaty myspace 20 something scenesters lovin’ it. They really rocked my socks off. No really… I’ve no idea where they’re at – at first I checked behind the dryer but they weren’t there. Shout Out Out Out Out really know how to tear away all the posturing of a rock show and get every single last person in that joint hopping along to the cacophony of sweet beautiful noise they deal out in double drummed doses. Not a single arm crossed minimal head moving douchebag could be found – everyone was moving.

The last minute lineup change Bocce hailing out of Waterloo played a short, but very impressive set. And I was not left wanting more cowbell. There was ample. How many bands bring a cowbell out to the audience, stand on a table in the crowd with the cowbell cranked to 11, and just giv’r? The answer is few. So little, few. And they delivered well.

But the highlight of the night hands down (or up in the air in case of the evening) was when Shout Out Out Out Out hauled up on stage for a ditty, fellow Edmontonian, Cadence Weapon and he takes a show that was already at 11, to – are you ready for this – 12. Yes, TWELVE.

You’re gonna hear a lot about Shout Out Out Out Out in the upcoming year, and you’ll remember when you are their biggest fan; when you have them added in your crappy MySpace page; when you have their Tiger Beat full page band photo hanging on yer locker door; when you try and tell everyone else you were the first of all your friends to know them… you’re gonna remember you heard them first here. And I don’t mind. It will be our dirty little secret.

Now go see them live, in a small joint before you can’t any more.

[John Teeter]

“See Vous Play” at Kool Haus
Toronto, ON, October, 1, 2006
Les Breastfeeders, Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton, Les Trois Accords, The Joel Plaskett Emergency.

In a word: fantastic.

In a bunch of other words: All four bands were great. Being that is was a joint event co-ordinated by CBC Radio 3 and their French counterparts, Bande à part, fitting that two bands were English speaking and two were French. But all four were great.

The evening got started in a raucous way with “Les Breastfeeders” who played a forty-five minute firestorm of energy in their homage 60’s garage punk. Their ‘tamborinist’, Johnny was a one-man, show stealer – quite hilarious.

Next up, was “Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton” who most would know as the lead singer of ‘it’ band, Metric. But, she’s compiled 4 years of writing and recording into a solo album that she plans on touring in between the spaces and places Metric takes her. Her show, complete with a nine piece orchestra was definitely a change of pace from the previous act, but equally as good. More of a sit-down set, in a stand-up venue. Still, her songs and voice were quite hauntingly compelling.

The next act, “Les Trois Accords” the second Quebec act on the bill, have sold has many records in the province of Quebec alone, as bands like Hot Hot Heat have sold in all of Canada. Impressive was that fact, equally impressive was their set. They’re a pretty straight up rock band that have pretty catchy pop hooks to their songs. Even if I didn’t understand all the words, I found myself wanting to sing along.

Last but not least was pretty much the reason I was going, the “Joel Plaskett Emergency”. He’s pretty much an icon of indie rock in Canada, a founding member of the now defunct band, Thrush Hermit. Joel has a way of writing and creating songs that feel as Canadian as getting up at 6:00 am on a cold, January Saturday morning for ice hockey practice. And he did not disappoint. He played all my faves, “Love This Town”, “Extra Ordinary” and “Work Out Fine”.

It’s hard to pick a favourite act from all four for the evening, but my gentle nod would go to Joel Plaskett. The evening ran well, with the breaks between sets kept to a minimum – the hour plus long breaks of other shows I have been to lately really grate me. But, CBC Radio 3 and Bande à part personalities Grant Lawrence, Lauren Burroughs, Alexandre Courteau, Craig Norris, Natalie Poirier, and François Lemay took turns with segments in between to help pass the time. Though, I think the longest break between sets was maybe twenty minutes or so, which was shortened by the smooth, musical stylings DJ Johnny Fraglerock (which coincidentally I saw no Doozers during his set – I believe him not to be a real Fragle)

My only complaint on the evening, a blip on the radar, was that it was a general admission venue (Kool Haus, Toronto) and there was nowhere to sit except on the floor where we staked our territory near the soundboard. With four bands on the bill, and the doors opening at 7pm, it was too long to stand for an old fogie like myself. Many fans by the middle of the evening were sitting on the floor between sets or flocking to the one row of benches on a wall off to the side, behind one of the bars.

The number one, best dressed person on the evening was a tie between CBC Radio 3 host Grant Lawrence’s used car salesman suit adorned with a white tie and matching white dress shoes, or the CBC Radio 3 on the floor roving reporter, Chris Kelly who rocked a complete 3 piece navy, velvet grade 8 graduation suit ensemble that would have made Peter Brady blush. And pink Chuck Taylors no less (which coincidentally may have been worn to confuse Grant into thinking he was his high school crush).

All-in-all a fantastic evening made that much better by the price tag: FREE (for those who emailed or logged into the microsite for the show in time). It was ‘sold out’ and the venue was pretty jam packed. However those not lucky enough to get a ticket, could log in an see a live webcast of the event, or listen to their channel on satellite radio. As well CBC Radio 3 has posted the recorded live audio feeds on their site so you can enjoy the show over and over again like I am. I paid $5 to park for the night, paid for a tank of gas down to Toronto, and dinner at a pub near the Kensington Market… I think that is the cheapest night I’ve had out in Toronto in long time. And probably was easier on the wallet than my last concert here in town

[John Teeter]