Calgary

Today we had an utterly epic drive, from Vancouver all the way to Calgary in one fell swoop. We went over the Rockies at around 10 AM, in a light snowstorm, listening to Gris Gris and Broken Social Scene. Epic!

Chad van Gaalen opened for us, and he’s awesome. His songs are strange, in the best of ways. We stayed at his house afterwards, and spent some of the next morning hanging out in his heavily-modded short white school bus. Coolest vehicle ever!

Vancouver

Tonight’s show was at a little club called Media Club. Great little venue, good sound, really enthusiastic audience.

The house engineer totally perpetuated a Canadian stereotype, however. He briefed me on the room, and then I set about my soundcheck. I was a good half-hour in, cruising along, and all of a sudden he materialized at my elbow:

Him: “Sorry!”

Me: … long pause … “Sorry for what?”

Turns out, he was anxious – that the room was too small, or maybe too big, or somehow otherwise not to my liking – that the sound wasn’t good enough – that he hadn’t been helpful or accomodating enough – that, generally and non-specifically, he had somehow in the last half hour failed me in some way. I was able to reassure him, and he eventually retreated, relieved. Adorable :-)

Rogue Wave – Seattle, WA

Today’s show was a little odd, in that our set time was 7:45 PM. The venue actually closed the doors after our show and reopened for a second show at 10 PM! Ambitious. Unusual set time notwithstanding, the show was pretty great. The band brought out some really sensitive dynamics and some interesting interlude textures. I ran an extra delay line and threw some ear candy around the room, which seemed to work pretty well. “Temporary” was gorgeous. The audience was way larger than we expected at 7:45 on a Friday evening, and they were wonderfully attentive.

We spent the rest of the night at Dave and Swaan’s house, talking and listening to music. Their home and their company are lovely, and we realized pretty early on that there was nowhere else we wanted to be, so we stayed in. It has been a wonderful day – tomorrow, Vancouver! We are all interested to see what the turnout will be like in a city where we’re not playing at the same time as Death Cab :-)

We spent most of our time in the van today listening to Explosions In The Sky. Great soundtrack music for touring.

Oh, and Kelley Stoltz was great again tonight!

Rogue Wave – First Show of Tour – Portland, OR

The Rogue Wave tour has officially started! We played our first show, with Kelley Stoltz and Climber. Three good bands, and an enthusiastic and attentive crowd – a really enjoyable evening all around. There were gremlins, but of course there were gremlins – it’s the first night of tour. By Calgary we’ll be a well-oiled machine.

We did an in-store at Jackpot Records, which is the best record store I’ve been to in a while. Great selection, good prices, gentle incandescent lighting a la a nice bookstore, and the friendliest staff ever! They treated us really well – we each were given a $25 gift certificate and a free shirt. Wow! If we encounter this sort of largesse on the rest of the tour, I will feel extraordinarily fortunate. Come to think of it, I already feel extraordinarily fortunate. I have a great job :-)

Sparkly Girly Mania

My friend Aimee uttered the best phrase this weekend – “sparkly girly mania.” Wouldn’t that be the best band name ever? Or maybe “sparkle girl mania.” Either way, I think we’re on to something.

I spent the weekend traveling with Aimee’s cover band, engineering – we did one proper club date and two private parties. It was so much fun – the band are all such nice people, and they’re great at what they do. Mixing disco music all weekend has cleansed my palate for the upcoming indie-rock onslaught. I took my new FOH rack out for the trip, which was sweet – although, I don’t have most of my gear in it yet, so it was essentially a 60-pound tap delay. Like they used to have in the 30s! But, the hell with efficiency. I can’t wait until the other $700 of gear is in it!

On the drive home, Rob and I were listening to Mitch Hedberg. Wow :-)

R. Kelly – Trapped In The Closet Chapters 6-12

I just got my weekly email from iTunes, and was thrilled to learn that R. Kelly has just released the second installment in his Trapped In The Closet series of music video mini-dramas! Trapped In The Closet may be the best music video mini-drama ever. It may also be the only music video mini-drama ever, but that doesn’t take away from its sheer brilliance. You haven’t fully experienced music video mini-drama until you’ve heard the word “spatula” crooned over a dark R&B beat, as the nosy neighbor opens the door to find R. Kelly, his cheating wife, and her jailbird brother heavily armed in a blood-spattered hallway. Awesome! Highly recommended.

Red Devil Lounge – The Thieves

The Thieves were back last night, for another maddeningly underattended show. The ten people who were there were privy to one of the better three-piece rock bands currently touring. These guys have gotten so tight! They’re out in support of a new album, and the new material seems a bit groovier, a bit more laid back in the pocket. These guys kick ass.

I’ve been listening obsessively to the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club record. It’s so good, it’s almost intimidating. Country roots meets Appalachia meets gospel meets symphonic pop. Can’t … stop … listening … wow!

The Rogue Wave tour preparations are well underfoot. It’s astonishing how much minutiae there is. It will be so nice to get off the computer and into the van :-)

Red Devil Lounge – Peluka

Tonight was a three-band bill at the Red Devil. The opening and headlining acts were unremarkable — the former simply wasn’t very good, and the latter had a huge album in the nineties that I didn’t buy. The middle act was Peluka, and they stole the night. They sound like Interpol, if Interpol were less into Joy Division and more into Echo and the Bunnymen. The singer has a fantastic voice, naturally a baritone but with the upper range of a tenor, rich and resonant. The lead guitarist has a gorgeous, shimmery tone, and the rhythm section pushes back against the songs in an almost frictive way. I think that, with a bit of managerial direction, these guys could find an audience much larger than maybe they know right now. I’m eager to hear their next EP, which they’re apparently finishing in LA at the moment with Mark Needham. Check ’em out …

Popscene – Magic Numbers, Webb Brothers

I did Popscene last night, as I do every Thursday when I’m in town. It’s a great gig — somewhat unique, great energy.

Essentially, Popscene is an indie-rock / new wave DJ dance night with a featured band (or sometimes two, like last night for example). It’s put on by Aaron Axelsen, who is the Music Director for Live105 and a tireless champion of new music. Aaron has great taste. Or, at least, his taste and mine seem to be very compatible — I consistently love the bands he finds to bring in, which is why I like this gig so much. No matter what else happens during the week, I can be assured that I’ll get to mix at least one band that I really enjoy.

The evening is 18+, and the crowd skews young — the median age is probably around 23. As soon as the band hits the stage, regardless of who the band is, the crowd crushes the front and goes nuts for them. It’s very un-San Francisco — people dancing and yelling and showing a huge degree of enthusiasm. Usually, in this city, people show their appreciation for a band by not leaving. It’s not a local audience generally given to emotive displays of trancendental abandon. Particularly given how young and hipster-ish the Popscene crowd is, they behave in a remarkably non-hipsterish fashion. It’s surprising, and refreshing, and it’s exciting for the bands. Like I said, it’s a great gig.

Last night’s bands were the magic numbers and the Webb Brothers. The former is a pair of siblings from England. Apparently they’re huge there, but haven’t broken here yet. I would imagine they’ll be at least indie-big within six months. Their songs are beautifully crafted, laced with intertwining harmonies and gripping poignancy, and they perform the hell out of them. “Gorgeous” and “captivating” are descriptions that spring to mind.

The Webb Brothers are three of Jimmy Webb’s sons (maybe all three — I’m not as informed as I could be on Jimmy Webb’s family), plus a non-related rhythm section. They spent some time recently touring the UK with the magic numbers, and this was their last show together — they were visibly moved. It was touching and genuine.

All around, this was a great night of music, put on by a bunch of really nice people. You can’t really ask for a lot more than that :-)