Remember when I was gonna quit doing these? It turns out that I'm good at slowing down but bad at actually stopping. Normally, I stick a list of upcoming shows at the bottom of each concert review, but what the heck, let's put the list first this time.
UPCOMING SHOWS: - March 28: John K. Samson w/Shotgun Jimmie - March 29: Ben Folds and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra - April 6: The Cat Empire - April 7: Kasabian w/Hacienda - April 12: Kathleen Edwards w/Hannah Georgas - April 18: Whitehorse - April 20: Joel Plaskett Emergency w/Frank Turner - August 10-12: Regina Folk Festival
I managed to avoid writing reviews for the Norm Macdonald stand-up show (very funny) and the Regina Symphony playing cartoon themes (cute idea, but not executed all that well), but still, I'll be hitting seven shows in four cities in the next five weeks. And it would have been even worse if I'd made it to the Electric Six show I had tickets for, but I spent that night in the office, getting home a little after 2:00 a.m.
Perhaps I don't know what "worse" means.
Luckily, I've got a bit of time off coming up, so I can take care of essential tasks like driving or flying from town to town, writing reviews, and catching up on my old man sleep. I might see midnight from somewhere other than my house or my office. Time to man up.
Fortunately, the concerts put on by the Regina Folk Festival tend to stick to a reasonable schedule. We got to the Exchange about 20 minutes after the doors opened, and the emcee - a "weather specialist" (conspicuous by its absence was the word "meteorologist") from a local station - was already getting things underway. We had just enough time to seat ourselves before the first act took the stage.
"Lola Parks" is not Lola Parks' real name. I know this from the internet. I will not tell you what her real name is, since if you're anything like me, you have a vision in your mind of a showgirl who refused to dance at the back of a bus, and I'd hate to destroy the magic. Instead, it was a lady from BC who wrote some songs and sang those songs while playing the guitar. This was all very straightforward and it was fine enough, though she was never able to capture the interest of the crowd. You could hear the talking gradually get louder as her set progressed.
Next up was Regina's own Indigo Joseph, a local quartet (or quintet if you include the light-up statue of the Virgin Mary which sat at the side of the stage). These guys brought a lot more energy to their set, and got a reaction befitting local favourites, which is to say that some people stood at the front of the stage, and a few even danced. It was almost as though there was live music playing. They traded off instruments throughout their set and were generally pretty entertaining. I've heard of these guys for a while now, so I was a bit surprised when they were talking onstage as though an upcoming show in Saskatoon was a big step for them. But then, they all looked to be about 12 years old, so I suppose they have lots of time. And now I will find out that they're all, like, late-20s and I will feel even older than I normally do.
I had never heard of Michael Bernard Fitzgerald before last year's Regina Folk Festival, but he caught my ear with a delightful rendition of Baby Got Back: my one weakness. Luckily, I also really enjoyed his original songs; I'll listen to your hilarious rap covers, but you'd best back them up if actually want me to care. Take notes, Dynamite Hack.
For no particular reason, I was expecting the show to basically be one guy and his guitar, so I was surprised to see the stage fill with around eight additional musicians, including two horn players who you can apparently follow on Twitter @TheHornyBoys but I'm writing this at lunchtime at the office and I'm not about to do a search to confirm that. That's for after hours. Anyway, in front of a lighting rig that consisted of maybe a half-dozen plain lightbulbs, this mass of humanity played a great set in front of a largely adoring crowd.
I say "largely" because there are always those jerks who talk through the whole show. I'm sure I've gone off on a dozen rants in my SLCR history about people who pay a cover charge to ignore the entertainment and disrupt others, so I'll leave it at that, but ol' MBF was determined to take a stand, occasionally saying things like "this song is best enjoyed in silence" and "how about you shut up now." (Some guy: "WOOOOOO!" MBF: "That is doing the opposite.") It was wonderful, and brought back memories of the time that I saw Jian Ghomeshi try to murder a man with a stare for playing pinball through a Moxy Früvous set at The State.
MBF has a new studio album on the way. It wasn't ready for our show, but there was a tour-only EP for sale with five new tracks. I think he played four of them, but let's be honest, I'm writing this more than three weeks after the fact. I feel bad for neglecting his original songs, but I'm going to; I'm notoriously bad at remembering song titles, and the few people who read these reviews won't likely know any of them anyway. However, if I tell you that he segued from Flo Rida's Low into Bruce Springsteen's Dancing In The Dark and it was awesome, that might mean something.
At one point while writing this, my notes read: - lights - springsteen - shut up - touch butts
...and I felt that I needed to share this tidbit with you.
Touch butts! I almost forgot. At one point he played a love song and suggested that people in the crowd should "make out or touch butts or do whatever it is you do." I wasn't sure if this meant you were supposed to just grab butts, or if it was specifically restricted to butt-on-butt contact. Either way, I was too lazy to get off my chair. I'm sure MBF would be disappointed in me for being one of the quiet sitters instead of one of the enthusiastic standers, but I didn't blab through the whole show so hopefully that evens out.
Review Number One-Ninety-Nine was supposed to be Mounties. A Canadian indie-rock supergroup of sorts, Mounties (is? are?) my favourite guy Hawksley Workman, Steve Bays from Hot Hot Heat, and Ryan Dahle from Limblifter and Age of Electric.