I have had complaint (singular) about not writing enough concert reviews this summer. This is not entirely my fault; it may shock you to learn that the quantity of reviews is proportional to the quantity of shows I attend. And for the most part, there hasn't been anything that interesting of late. The Regina Folk Festival came and went, and I didn't bother with it. I walked through the park and caught enough of the Weakerthans' set to remind me that the Weakerthans in concert sound an awful lot the Weakerthans on CD. I greatly enjoy the Weakerthans, to be fair, but I hadn't bought a ticket so I couldn't see the stage. Also, I was there by myself, unless you count my dozens of mosquito friends. And so I went home, with plans to return to the Folk Festival on the following days, but that never happened. I'm kind of sad that I didn't get a popcorn ball from the kettle corn vendor; aside from that, I don't really feel like I missed much.
And just the other day, I got to see half an outdoor set by Stars on the University of Regina campus. I only heard about the show that morning when the girl who lives two apartments down from me mentioned it, so though I missed the first half, I was lucky to catch any of it at all. With a few exceptions who stood right out, the crowd was dead, dancing only to get away from the wasps that seemed to be everywhere. The band dedicated a song to Sarah Palin and threw roses into the crowd and sang lovely songs I'd never heard before - I'd never actually listened to any Stars before the show - and all in all, it was quite the enjoyable little half hour.
Then there was Oasis. Mika and I had already tentatively planned a trip to Calgary for Labour Day weekend to visit my grandparents, and then one night, I got bored and checked Pollstar to see who would be playing while we were there. Confession: I don't really care about Oasis one way or the other. Also, I had never bothered listening to any Ryan Adams, the announced opener. But I knew Mika liked both acts a lot - though I was surprised that she was more excited by Adams than Oasis - and they'd never play here, so what the heck, right? I knew we'd run the risk of making my grandparents think that we were only visiting them for the free lodging - which was nice, don't get me wrong - but that was a chance I was willing to take.
Personally, I thought our choice of seats served as proof that the concert was no more than a late addition to the plan. The show had gone on sale long before I heard about it, and Ticketmaster offered me only two choices - the very back of the arena, or partially obstructed seats to the side of the stage. I chose the back of the arena. Both options meant warning Mika that I had got us really bad seats - and not in that sitcom way where we show up and SURPRISE! Front row! How terribly grand! No, these were legitimately bad seats. As in, we had a perfect straight-on view of the stage, but there were no rows behind us. Dave had warned me that the shape of the Saddledome meant that the big score clock might obstruct my view, and we'd wind up watching the concert on the big screens. This did not happen because they did not use the big screens. We still had a good view of the stage - ignoring the fact that you couldn't tell, say, what colour the singers' shirts were - but the score clock did obscure part of the light show. Sadly, it was the interesting-to-watch part and not the blinding-the-audience part.
We took our seats not long before the show was scheduled to start. Surprisingly, everything started on time. Even more surprising was Matt Costa's appearance as the unannounced opener. I have very little to say about any of this evening's music and I am exhausted, so I will say he was pretty good but would have benefited from a much smaller venue. Say, Amigo's? Ryan Adams and the Cardinals took the stage immediately after - no intermission or anything - and I liked them better. They too would have been a better fit for a smaller venue - maybe a Prairieland or something. Really, hockey arenas are crappy places to see bands. I wouldn't want to see hockey in a concert hall either.
Actually, that sounds kind of awesome.
Anyway, Ryan Adams. He dedicated a song to some girl who draws graphic novels and claimed he wanted to suck her face off and said she made him feel like he was riding an electric unicorn.
"This is a man who is full of diseases," Mika said. "He also has no sense of humour so he may very well be completely serious."
There was a brief lull between Ryan Adams and Oasis. I killed time by sending Dave text messages inviting him to Calgary to see New Kids on the Block, or relating stories from the weekend, such as when my grandpa heard we were seeing the Gallagher brothers and thought, mistakenly, that we were seeing Gallagher. My grandpa and I are in agreement that the Sledge-o-matic really isn't funny. I did not ask him about the Honk-a-meter.
I had never heard any Matt Costa or any Ryan Adams before the show. I had, however, heard Oasis. And judging from the greatest hits CD Mika played on the drive to Calgary, I had heard more Oasis than I realized. I've never been a fan, and I'm pretty sure the British girl I used to date will hunt me down and kill me if she ever reads this and finds out I actually willingly paid good cash moneys to see them in concert. Aaron has made similar threats, as has Dave. There's a LOT of Oasis hate among my friends.
Ultimately, I really had no idea what I was getting into with this evening, but as it turns out, Oasis? Not bad at all. I don't think they're as great as Mika thinks they are, and I certainly don't think they're as great as they think they are, but with that having been said, they put on a really good show. Maybe I was just stoned. It turns out that the very back of the arena is where all the pot smokers hide, and man, the stink. You'd think the people who bought the cheap seats could afford the GOOD pot, but this was clearly not the case. Where were you while we were getting high? Two seats down from YOU, polo shirt guy.
To our left was a guy with his children. Dad was having the time of his life - not because of the show so much as the opportunity to embarrass his 13-year-old daughter in public. He hooted and hollered and clapped off the beat and she looked like she longed for death. I am now an old man, I guess, because I thought this was pretty funny.
The songlist was skewed for people like me, pulling heavily from their collection of hits. If I had been a die-hard fan for years, I might have been disappointed, but I'm not, so hooray! When the band launched into Wonderwall, everyone in the arena started singing along at once. I know we're all still sick of that song, nearly 15 years later, but being there with 12,000 people loudly singing along, that was one of the cooler moments in my concert-going history. And maybe I'm a jerk, but I like that moment even more after reading this quote from Liam Gallagher on the ever-reliable Wikipedia: "I can't stand that fucking song. Every time I have to sing it, I want to gag. Problem is 'Wonderwall' was a big big tune for us and so you go to America and they're like, 'Are you Mr. Wonderwall?,' and you want to chin someone."
So yes, this is my confession. I saw Oasis, and I'd do it again. I accept your scorn and your punches.
*Good* music gone? Who else died? They haven't officially said it was an overdose yet because they haven't officially confirmed it was an overdose yet, but, you know, it's really about as mysterious as Layne Staley's death.