A Week of Music

Tonight is the first night I find myself not going to see a concert since the Olympics started and I expect it will be a rare night off until the end of next weekend. There are so many great bands in town, especially at Atlantic House on Granville Island. Sharon is from the maritimes and knows about all these fantastic bands that I’ve never heard of so I’ve left myself in her hands to select our concert itinerary. Thus far it’s been great! Here’s a quick recap:

Saturday night: Atlantic House On Deck
Our first night at Atlantic House was a blast! Strangely the venue didn’t clue in that there were going to be 500 maritimers in attendance and only provided a single bartender to handle the huge lineup of people looking for beer. Fortunately the Atlantic House Kitchen Party venue sells beer imported from the east coast and has a proper bar to serve people. It wasn’t until last night that I found myself being able to get into the Kitchen Party to buy Gahan House beer.

The first act was kinda lame, the only dud performance at Atlantic House, but the next three were stellar! Amelia Curran from Newfoundland was up first. She’s a singer-songwriter who performed some amazing songs on her guitar. She had a percussive way of playing and it was great to listen to. After Amelia came this great band called Grand Theft Bus. I was reminded a little bit of Wintersleep in that they both have a way of jamming out some particularly moody music. Their drummer was great to watch. Very talented! I’m going to have to listen to more of them.

Following Grand Theft Bus was the headliner, George Canyon. After seeing two very different, yet equally awesome, bands already I wasn’t sure what to expect next. What I got was a strapping guy wearing a Canada hockey jersey and 10 gallon cowboy hat who was an incredibly polished country singer. You could tell that they were a big band by how tight they were and how they had in-ear monitors for a small show like this one. What made it memorable was George jumping into Stomping Tom Connors Good Ol’ Hockey Game early in his set. Ashley Macisaac snuck on stage to join in and the crowd loved it. They got so fired up singing that the band immediately went into Drunken Sailor before going back to their regular songs.

My favorite part of the show was when George pitted two of his bandmates against each other in a contest to see who could get the most noise from the crowd. The prize: the loser had to serenade the MC, Shaun Majumder, with the Tina Turner song Private Dancer! Atlantic House has it on YouTube now: http://www.youtube.com/atlanticcanadahouse#p/u/7/x3G2P5M5cVo. Well worth watching.

I should mention that comedian Shaun Majumder stole the show as the MC that night, and has done so every night since at Atlantic House. Funny, funny guy.

Sunday night: Robson Street
On Sunday Sharon and I decided to keep it low-key and wander around downtown to see what was happening. We got lucky when we stumbled onto Robson Street next to the CTV booth just in time to see Canada’s first gold medal win at the moguls competition that night. Robson Street exploded into cheers when it happened! It made an already festive atmosphere even more fun downtown that evening.

Monday night: Atlantic House On Deck
Our original plan was (at my insistence) to go see Sloan at the Atlantic Canada  Kitchen Party, which is the smaller of the two Atlantic House venues, seating only 200 people. Unfortunately, if you weren’t in line by 5pm for the 10:30pm Kitchen Party you weren’t getting in! So we elected to check out the performance next door which was simply called Drum. I’m glad we did miss Sloan since Drum was a crazy good show! It’s a large multi-cultural troupe that performs a wide range of music all centered around percussive instruments. They rocked the place! Incredible performance.

Tuesday night: Livecity Downtown
Buck 65 was playing downtown so Sharon and I went over to meet up with her sister and see his show. I’ve seen Buck 65 once before when I was at the Pemberton Festival two summers ago. I thought his show was neat but wasn’t really that impressed. So I was curious to find out if he would be better in a small venue where he was the featured act. It took us about an hour of lining up to get in but we were entertained by the partiers in front of us who knocked back an entire mickey of Fireball Whisky and several beers before staggering through the security check at the entrance.

The venue had placed a large screen outside so everyone in the lineup could watch the show that was going on inside. I kinda wish they hadn’t because the opening band was one of the worst hip hop acts I’ve ever seen! I understand you want to feature Canadian artists but please, this is the band that makes people say things like, “you can’t spell ‘crap’ without ‘rap’.”

It was good we were lined up because we missed that band and made it in time for Buck 65, who killed it! Crazy lyrics, goofy dances, and so much fun to watch! I’m going to be going to see him again. I’m also going to pick up his new album when it comes out just so I can hear the zombie song he performed.

Wednesday night: umm… I can’t remember!

Thursday night: Atlantic House On Deck
Sharon really wanted to see Jimmy Rankin, of the Rankin Family, and I’m always up to see new bands so we went back to the Atlantic House, which by now was garnering rave reviews in the local press as the place to be during the Olympics. There were four east coast bands playing  that night and I didn’t realize that I was in for one of the best shows I was going to see.

The Once came on first. Led by their talented singer, Geraldine Hollett, the 3-piece from Newfoundland charmed us with their songs that would tell stories about life on the east coast. We were captivated by their music and just as we’d settled into it their guitar player started shredding on his banjo and the audience erupted in cheers. When they left the stage I, and everyone in the theatre, wanted them to keep playing.

Good thing Pascal Lejune, a French-Canadian from New Brunswick, came on next with his hipster 3-piece band. He’s a funny guy, his band was great, and the songs were in French with the exception of my new favorite of his, The Train, which he explained came from his failed attempt at starting a music career in Nashville. His is another album I want to pick up.

I wasn’t sure it’d be easy for the next band to top the previous two, but John Connolly and his band from PEI put on an outrageously good show. At first I wasn’t sure I liked them that much, and Sharon wasn’t taken with them for their first couple of songs either. But they quickly started to rock out more and more and until it felt like they were stampeding over us with their music! They’re another band I would go see again if I get the chance.

Jimmy Rankin came on with a lone guitar player who he introduced as his backing band. He tells stories with his songs but he comes from a background of playing dance halls and bars with the Rankin Family which has made him a master of working a crowd. It wasn’t long before everyone was on their feet and people filled the front of the auditorium to dance.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to see so many fantastic bands in one show!

Friday: Alberta House
Well, we didn’t actually make it into the Alberta House. The Dudes were playing and Sharon knew I would love them so we lined up alongside the Alberta House on Robson Street to see if we could get inside to see the show. The stage is outdoors anyway so you can see it from the lineup and even though we didn’t make it in we got to see the entire show with the small crowd that gathered along the fence that separated Robson Street from the Alberta House bar.

Sharon was right, The Dudes rule! Their drummer, who has a mustache that fits somewhere between Tom Selleck and Lanny MacDonald was one of the most entertaining drummers I’ve ever seen. He’s become the standard to which I’m going to judge my performances now. Probably the most fun band I’ve seen over the Olympics.

Saturday: Germany House
Saturday we were intending to go to the Atlantic House again but we got so distracted by the beer and bratwurst at the Germany House that we didn’t make it over! I think we were a little burned out from all those shows too. Germany House was heaps of fun, especially with my friend Travis who decided he should bring this ridiculous beer hat for the occasion. It was a good conversation piece for all the people that sat with us at the large tables in the house. I had my Germany hockey jersey on and some of the Germans thought I might be from their country so they’d try and speak German to me. My German is pretty rusty so it quickly became apparent that I could not speak German. Still met some cool people from the old country though so it worked out alright.

And that brings us to Sunday, which I’ve already written about.

I have been having such a good time seeing bands over the Olympics. For me it’s more about the music than the sports! I’m going to find it pretty boring by comparison when the Olympics leave town next weekend.

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