Saturday, May 05, 2007

The high party

So I suggest to J-F, given our newly promised financial security, that maybe we should consider indulging in the extravagance of concert tickets — as a celebration, reward, a guilt-free pleasure — like, say, for The Police. We'd toyed with the idea when they first announced their tour, not that we're great fans, but we love them well enough, icons of a generation — our generation — blah, blah, blah. So we consider, and I jump on the internet and find tickets are still available, and I hesitate. "You really think we should see The Police?"

And J-F thinks a bit, and says, "You know, if we're gonna go see a concert, I'd rather see Arcade Fire." In the spirit of getting with the times. And here we are in their hometown. Maybe they're known to jam at some little club on St Laurent.

So I jump on the internet, and lo and behold, they're on tour, with dates in Montreal very soon (not an intimate venue, but...), only they're sold out. I find tickets on eBay, about $200 a pop. But a couple days later, it's still on my mind, and I ask J-F, "So just how badly do you want to see Arcade Fire?"

And he says, "You know, Arcade Fire is well and good, but you know who I'd really like to see?" "Uh, no. Who?" "Ted Leo & the Pharmacists." "Uhh...?" "You know, the guy who does that version of Six Months in a Leaky Boat we like so much." "Oh! We should totally go see him!" So I jump on the internet, and lo and behold, they're coming to an intimate venue near us.

So Thursday night, we dump the kid and, running short on time, splurge on a $4 cab ride to Boulevard Saint-Laurent, to an annex of the very same establishment where I occasionally drop in to buy art from their funky refurbished art-dispensing cigarette machines, and plonk down $15 bucks apiece to enjoy the privilege of watching Ted Leo & the Pharmacists, and 2 other bands too.

We're a little out of practice at this sort of thing, so we arrive on time, even though an hour or two after posted starting time would've been a reasonable entrypoint. We entertain ourselves before showtime drinking quantities that mock the (relatively) cheap ticket price and making fun of people — including the guy in charge of t-shirt sales, who regularly counts out the change in the tips jar to see if he has enough for a beer (and finally he does!) and the guy manning the coatcheck, who even after midnight is diligently working away at the same sudoku puzzle — and how few people are there. Also, I marvel that among all the photocopies announcing future concerts on the wall lining the stairway there is a notice of marriage.

So the first band is Vague Angels, from Brooklyn, and they're kind of crappy, in an artsy reminds-me-of-a-lot-of-stuff-I-listened-to-in-my-college-days way, inspiring me, as I sarcastically tell J-F, to go home and "work on my music." It turns out that the man behind them (and in front of them) is Chris Leo, brother of the aforementioned Ted, and he (Chris) is also author (and this is the only book-related part of this rambling) of 57 Octaves Below the Middle C Buzzed by the Bee (or Really) How I Lost This Place, as he happens to mention amid some mostly ineffective banter with the still spare audience, at which point he comes off as something of a pretentious know-it-all (annoying, yet still interesting), claiming to have predicted in his book (a novel, it turns out) the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder, citing it as the start of the end of civilization as we know it, though he fails to address the fact that North American Indians sustained themselves just fine before Europeans introduced honeybees to this continent.

And then there's Love of Diagrams, with a girl drummer looking strangely delicate as she beats out a fusillade of rhythms.

And then Ted Leo. And the pharmacists. Who're great.



(The above clip being fairly representative of his talent, skill, and style. Although, there are no pharmacists in this clip: you'll have to fill in the blanks — the stoned drummer, the big-haired bassist, and the other guy — for the harder jumpin' show we were witness to.)

The pleasure of simultaneously feeling young and old: priceless.
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