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The W - Music - SLCR #361: “Weird Al” Yankovic (July 8, 2022) / SLCR #362: Spoon (July 19, 2022)
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Since: 10.12.01
From: #yqr

Since last post: 42 days
Last activity: 3 days
#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 8.76
Normally when I finish writing a review, I walk away from it and let it sit overnight. I come back the next day, fix typos, create new ones, tweak anything that no longer works for me, and send it out.

I wrote the Weird Al review the day before the Spoon show. Walked away. Came back. Hated it.

This is not entirely uncommon. Sometimes I just have to get these things to the point of "good enough" and get them out the door. Besides, history has shown that I'm a terrible judge of whether or not these reviews are actually worthwhile. The ones I really like tend to get no reaction. The ones I toss into the void because I'm tired of thinking about them get lots of feedback.

But this Weird Al one, I dunno. I really didn't care for it. I think the issue is that the show was essentially a rerun. It was my second time seeing Al on The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour (technically, this was The Unfortunate Return of the Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour). So for the second time, no costume changes, no fancy sets, and no parodies - just originals. Comedian Emo Phillips returned as the opening act. And I re-read the old review from 2018, and it was a lot better than this new one. More detailed. Funnier. I could tell I was more into that show. I strongly considered just rerunning the old one with whatever adjustments were needed since nobody would know the difference anyway.

I think the other issue is that I'm still not that gung-ho to go places or do things. In the past 6 months, I’ve skipped a dozen concerts that I’d have gone to without question 3 years ago. My excitement level isn't helped by the fact that because we’re seeing so few shows, we’re mostly sticking to familiar favourites. And yet the best show I've seen this year so far was TEKE::TEKE, who I knew very little about going in.

Which is how I got here, combining two reviews in one, contrasting a longtime favourite in Weird Al with Spoon, who I never really checked out before now. Why not try something different. You get double the value for your money, and I get to solve my problem of procrastination by making more work for myself, which - as Jeff pointed out after the all-haiku review - I often do.

Attendance at Weird Al was decent but it was far from a sell out. Fans in balcony seats were invited to move down and fill up the floor. I assume it was a combination of things - he was running opposite a Rider home game, plus there are people who still aren’t doing stuff (or are being selective about what they’re doing). Moreover, this was The Unfortunate Return of etc. etc. and maybe people just don't want all originals and a pared-back stage show from Al.

The turnout for Spoon made Al's look great. We got to the Arts Centre with a half-hour before the opener, and audibly cussed when I saw how empty the parking lot was. I liked having my choice of spots and a guaranteed easy exit, but I'd rather bands be able to sell more tickets so we get more bands. The balcony people weren't invited to move down since the balconies were never opened in the first place. We'd bought our usual end-of-row-L seats for the legroom, and an usher encouraged us to move to better seats. This is why Regina can't have nice things; because when we do, not enough people want them. Just another in the storied history of under-attended shows here. Ted Leo can sympathize.

As I mentioned, Al's opener, like in 2018, was comedian Emo Phillips. Much of his material was repeated, though there were some new bits concerning that thing that’s the only thing that any of us have talked about for years now. “Anyone here have a fake vaccine card? The great thing about those is you can still die from COVID.” For real, there were people who got up and left after that one.

Spoon had no COVID protocols in place. Al required vaccines or a recent test. That's a clear point in Al's favour, though the folks who were in line ahead of us to enter the venue would disagree. They couldn’t show proof of vaccination because they hadn’t been, they couldn’t show a recent test result because they didn’t have one, and they weren’t about to take a rapid test at the door. This couple was not impressed with “Weird Al” Yankovic’s pandemic policy, and that is a factual sentence I just wrote. These past few years have been wild and I want to be done with them. Anyway, eventually we got in a different line, this time behind a family of 5 all dressed up as 80s-era Weird Als. That wasn’t the fastest line I’d ever been in either, but I’ll take exuberance over belligerence any day.

Spoon's opener was Widowspeak, a band from New York who... well, let's be clear. I liked them. But they were the epitome of the "that was fine" opening act that I immediately forget about. It's been two weeks and I just had to look up their name. I'm listening to the new album The Jacket right now. Light poppy not-really-rock, not bad but not really for me. They were much better musicians than Emo Phillips, though he was funnier.

It's been a whole paragraph so let's go back to everyone's second favourite global pandemic. I assume Al made the call to resurrect his stripped-down Vanity Tour because it meant a smaller crew and easier touring during COVID, which... well, he tried. Not only did Al get COVID and miss a few shows along the way, but just before our show, keyboardist Rubén Valtierra popped for the rona, forcing him to spend days quarantining in a Regina hotel room. Of all the places to be stuck. A friend of mine described Regina as “a great place to live, but you wouldn’t want to visit there.” The first part is questionable but I get what he was going for. I hope Rubén enjoyed his stay and someone at least told him to order in from Italian Star Deli.

Rubén's unexpected absence actually resulted in a bit of history - the remaining 4-piece band played together for the first time in that configuration since 1986. The band, total pros, shuffled up the setlist and delivered some unique arrangements - Al played accordion on the song One More Minute for what he believed was the first time ever.

The setlists for the Vanity Tour shows are crapshoots. There are decades worth of songs to draw from, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get any of your favourites. Or my favourites, which is really what I’m concerned with, and what I didn't really get. Much like the last time, I wound up without the songs I wanted most - and about half were repeats from the last Vanity Tour show here:

Young, Dumb & Ugly
My Own Eyes
Airline Amy
My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder
One More Minute
Midnight Star
I Remember Larry
Buy Me a Condo
Generic Blues
I’ll Sue Ya
Lame Claim to Fame
Good Old Days
You Don’t Love Me Anymore
She’s Got Everything (The Kinks cover)
medley (Amish Paradise, Smells Like Nirvana, White & Nerdy, Word Crimes, Yoda)

Some of those are great. A handful should be left in the past. Albuquerque was an extended version of what is an already ridiculously long (and ridiculous) song. I didn’t know the Kinks song but he’s doing a different cover in every city and has the whole of recorded music history to choose from so I’m fine with what we got.

I don't have a setlist of the Spoon show for you. I could get one - Jeff sent me an Apple Music playlist of the songs - but it would feel dishonest. I know Weird Al songs. I don't know Spoon songs.

My introduction to Spoon came from The Main, a Canadian Food Network show from like 15 years ago. The Main had a catchy theme song, and one day I heard Spoon's "I Turn My Camera On" and went "oh hey, that's the The Main song," except it WASN'T, the The Main song just completely ripped off Spoon. I looked for a video clip of The Main's intro to prove my point but they appear to have been erased from the internet. I can still find a handful of articles about the copycat song but not the song itself. (CRZ, do not take this as a challenge, nobody actually cares about the theme song to The Main anymore.)

Anyway, I said for a long time that this was the only Spoon song I knew, so Mika played me The Underdog, and I had to admit I knew that one too, mostly from other times that Mika played me The Underdog. So that's two songs. I am informed.

I suppose I could mention that I listened to both their new album and the Spoon Essentials playlist but it's funnier if I'm dumber, you see.

I was already in a good mood by the time Spoon started because I saw Jeff arrive so I texted him that I could see his head and then he'd look around, completely miss us, and then I'd text him about his head again and watch him look for us again. It didn't really have to specifically be his head except it kind of did? Don't make me explain it.

When Spoon came out, we moved down the aisle to the centre and wound up standing for the whole show since everyone else did too. Fine by me. The crowd was small but appreciative, and should have been - this was great. Just a straight-up rock show with all the lights and bells and whistles you'd want (which I guess is technically zero since there were no actual bells or whistles - look, I only have so many ways to say "the lights looked really cool"). The handful of songs I knew were highlights but the whole thing was start-to-finish great.

I love Weird Al and always will and surely will wind up seeing him again if he comes back here. But this little experiment makes a real compelling argument that I should skip the repeat shows and make a point of seeking out new(-to-me) bands. Which I'm sure we'll... uh... oh.

• Regina Folk Festival w/The New Pornographers, Cadence Weapon, Andy Shauf, Belle Plaine, Jeremy Dutcher, Begonia, William Prince, Megan Nash, more (August 5-7)
• Metric (August 19)
• Crash Test Dummies (September 11)
• Joel Plaskett w/Mo Kenney (September 17)
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Since: 13.2.02
From: Back in the Heart of Hali

Since last post: 663 days
Last activity: 9 hours
#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 10.00

    Originally posted by KJames199

    This is why Regina can't have nice things; because when we do, not enough people want them. Just another in the storied history of under-attended shows here. Ted Leo can sympathize.

*side-eye from Halifax where we don't even get the chance to not go to shows because (almost) nobody comes here*

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This was a real last-minute call for me. Steven Page announced a big ol' spring Canadian tour, and he wasn't coming here. Disappointing, but months later, the symphony booked this show, taking place before said tour.
Related threads: SLCR #360: Hawksley Workman (April 21, 2022) - SLCR #359: TEKE::TEKE (March 31, 2022) - SLCR #358: Glass Tiger (March 10, 2022) - More...
The W - Music - SLCR #361: “Weird Al” Yankovic (July 8, 2022) / SLCR #362: Spoon (July 19, 2022)Register and log in to post!

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