Paste it, traced it, erased it

When I left my job earlier this year it was because I wanted a life change. Working at a stressful job, even though it was well-paying, was setting me up for a life of poor health and eventual disease and I vowed I would avoid that road after witnessing my Dad’s death from cancer just 6 months after he retired from a stressful workplace.

I find I’ve become stressed out again, despite the changes to my career trajectory. As a result I’ll be making a few changes in the coming weeks to bring back a sense of balance and a lifestyle that I can maintain. I also need to drop the 10 pounds I gained over the past 4 months and get back into a healthy lifestyle.

Music’s already off the table. Although there are aspects I enjoy (primarily the social opportunities), it’s something that takes work and diligent practice to get good at and I found that I was constantly worrying about practicing enough or trying to fit practice into my busy schedule. I’ve still been running the music room in our amenities building, but that responsibility ends next week when I step down and make way for a new leader who can get things in order.

I’m scaling back my involvement with the amenities building too. I wound up as the head of the committee, but it’s made going down to the amenities building more of a job than as a fun perk I received when I bought into this building. I step down as ABC chair next week.

The biggest change will be getting back into the outdoors again. Of all the things I’ve tried over the past few years, going camping, hiking, and biking has had the biggest impact on my mood and energy level. When I first moved to Vancouver I made it a rule to get into the outdoors at least once a week. Getting out of the city and all the stress and pressure was like hitting a release valve for me and I would come back recharged and ready to kick some ass again. Now that I’ve been hiding out indoors, I find that the stress slowly builds until I start to snap at my girlfriend and blow up over the most trivial incidents. This is where I am right now and it needs to change, quickly!

This all starts this weekend when Sharon and I abandon our new years plans to head to Porpoise Bay campground near Sechelt to get a night in the woods, away from the city noise and BS.

This winter will likely involve a lot of snowshoeing since Sharon and her friend are doing a snowshoe clinic up at Grouse in January. I’m not sure if I’m going to try out cross country skiing this year. With swimming and then a woodworking course beginning in February I’m likely to be stretched for time.

Hooray for 2012! I’ll see you outside.

Rollins, Dinosaur Jr., Deep Dark Woods, Wu Lyf, and Kyuss!

It’s been a busy month with me fighting some kind of super-cold/cough/flu thing and trying to get ready for Christmas. Here’s a rundown of the last shows this year:

Wu Lyf – Friday Nov 18 at The Electric Owl

This was  a band my friend Shannon is heavily into and I came out solely on his recommendation, having never heard them before. There’s not much out there about the band from Manchester, England since they don’t do interviews and don’t publish much about themselves. Their work is self-produced and self-released so their popularity is all word-of-mouth.

The opening band, Crystal Antlers, rocked it and featured the keyboardist from the Mars Volta. Shanman talked to him after, apparently he produced the Crystal Antlers album and has been doing his own solo stuff while Mars Volta is hanging out until Cedric and Omar gather everyone up for the next album.

Wu Lyf was an interesting band to watch. Not sure if I can describe their music. Part Joy Division, part early U2, but different than both those bands. They definitely have a rabid batch of fans in Vancouver. Seems all the college-age indie kids came out in force. A mosh pit started up right away. Strange, because it’s not the sort of music that warranted moshing. The singer made a comment about guys removing their shirts and the drunken college mosh crowd obliged turning the front section into a sweaty mess of male torsos. Ugh. Time to move to the back!

I enjoyed the show and also enjoyed finally checking out the Electric Owl, a new venue on the site of the old American Hotel which had been notorious as a drug-infested dive bar that was eventually raided by the police and shut down. The Electric Owl is a great place to see a band. Nice high stage, well-laid out, and very new and clean. I hope there’s more shows there in the new year.

 Kyuss Lives! – Wednesday, Nov 23 at The Commodore Ballroom

I finally got to see Kyuss, or most of the band, now billed as “Kyuss Lives!” since founding member Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures, Eagles of Death Metal) didn’t participate in the reunion of one of the best (and most underrated) stoner rock bands of the 90’s.

The band laid down a faithful rendition of their heavy, rumbling songs from all 3 albums. Brant Bjork’s drumming was the highlight for me. The guy just looks cool with his long black hair, bandanna, and thick moustache.

So happy I saw them. I never thought I’d ever see Kyuss and I’m excited to read that they’ve been working on a new album. Hopefully it lives up to the old stuff and doesn’t suck like new albums from recently-reunited 90’s bands (Jane’s Addiction – I’m looking at you here).

Opening band The Sword ripped into us with some intense metal. My high school self would have loved The Sword. I enjoyed their show, but I’m not so much of a metalhead anymore.

The Deep Dark Woods – Saturday, Nov 26 at The Biltmore

I’ve always enjoyed seeing The Deep Dark Woods, a small folksy jam band from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Their singer always growls about funny stuff during their shows, which he did at the Biltmore show. They turned some of my favorite songs into epic jam sessions and the show featured several appearances from local violin player Kendel Carson, who has been making a pretty big name for herself as a solo artist.

Another local band, The Sumner Brothers, opened the show and I would say they nearly stole it from the Deep Dark Woods. One guy has a raspy, Tom Waits style voice which I enjoyed. I’ll have to see them again. They’re from Vancouver so we likely won’t have to wait long.

Dinosaur Jr. – Sunday, Dec 18 at The Commodore Ballroom

I’d never really listened to Dinosaur Jr. before their show and I decided to go because a heap of my friends were going and Henry Rollins was going to interview the band before they played.

The interview was interesting. The band’s history is that they made 3 critically-acclaimed albums before Lou Barlow, the bassist, left the band and formed Sebadoh. During the interview Lou made a crack about being kicked out of the band.

Dinosaur Jr. killed it on stage. Lou flailed at his bass, J. Mascus, surrounded by 3 stacks of Marshall amplifiers, put up a wall of guitar noise, and Murph kept everything together on drums.

They played their 3rd album (and last album before Lou split), Bug, and I spent the whole show anticipating the song Don’t which is another wall of guitar noise punctuated by shrieking and screaming “Don’t you like me?!” I guess the band members are too old to destroy their voices on that song so they brought up a local guy named Devon to do the screaming for them.

Reilly ran into Devon the other night and asked him about the D Jr. show. Apparently Devon is in a local band called Beekeeper and hooked up the song through a friend of a friend connection. I thought he rocked it and I’m going to have to keep an eye out for them.