Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Zombie Lists, Part IV

We are getting far beyond the point in the new year where one can still decently post a Best Of list, but I'm not quite done yet. The Zombie household took in a record number of concerts this year, and here are some of our favourites, in no particular order:
Top 06 Concerts of 06
Wilco / Elliott Brood
- there was Jeff Tweedy on crutches, sporting a scruffy beard on that baby face, but despite the lameness and the facial furniture, Wilco rocked Mac Hall down to the bricks. And I almost got into a fight with a couple of 8-foot guys who wouldn't shut up about how great their cell phones were.
We had no idea who was opening and were super pleased to discover it was none other than the glorious death-country trio out of Ontario - Elliott Brood.
the Constantines / Chad VanGaalen / Blood Meridian
- this was my first real exposure to the strange and beautiful local multi-media wunderkind, Chad VanGaalen as he opened for the hardest working band in Canada. The Cons, as totally expected, blew us all out of the water with their glorious hard rocking stage show. And in true Canadian indie comradery fashion, Bry Webb of the Cons played bass for Chad, while Chad returned the favour for the Cons later.
The presence of Blood Meridian added a strange hippie/trucker mix to the largely indie kid audience, but nothing could surpass the dedication of the fan-boy who brought Chad a pair of sunglasses and then introduced him to his mom.
Billy Bragg
- I kept forgetting whether I was at a musical concert or a standup comedy show. Aside from the impassioned and timeless music, Billy Bragg has hands down, the best on-stage patter. And the man is dead funny. Panties were in serious danger of being peed.
Chad VanGaalen / Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir
- Chad VanGaalen's album release party at an old downtown theatre was a truly multi-media celebration befitting this multi-facetted artist. The large elephant and frog cutouts decorating the stage, the screening of the musician's original artwork and animations projected at the back of the stage, the stories that this gentle giant had us in absolute stitches over almost, but not quite, surpassed the strange beauty of his music.
And to have the whole evening start off with some of the growliest, dirtiest, stompiest blues from the scruffy bearded faces of the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, well that was sublime.
Matthew Good / Melissa McClelland
- in a huge departure from his rocking shows of the past, but in keeping with the stripped down acoustic reworkings offered on the In a Coma double cd/dvd set (of which I have an autographed copy), Matthew Good took his guitar and hit the road without a band. The table seating at the concert added an intimacy that suited the intimate presentation of the music so beautifully, and really showcased Matt's amazing voice.
The eight-song encore sort of made us suspect that Matt didn't want us to go home at all, and the opening act by Melissa McClelland was quite lovely.
The Calgary Folk Festival
- This really needs a category all its own, as it is actually 4 days of music, featuring dozens of musicians from around the world, all within the setting of the beautiful and intimate Prince's Island Park. The highlights for me are always the workshops where you can see the most imaginative and creative combinations of musicians jamming away in a shaded glen.
But even if you only take in the evening concerts and a few workshops, this year you would have still seen Broken Social Scene, Feist, Macy Gray, Kris Kristopherson, Matt Good, Ani DiFranco, Bedouin Soundclash, Elliott Brood, Great Lake Swimmers, Lorrie Matheson, Dubblestandart, Jeff Healey, Elaine McIlwaine, the Roches, Tanya Tagaq, Rachelle van Zanten, Dar Williams, and so many more ...
It was a very good year ...


Anonymous said...

What about that RHCP concert? Kidding. Seriously, sorry that turned out to be a disappointment.

mellowlee said...

This is my favorite of your lists so far. It was nice reading the recaps :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, the Roches. I have not heard anything of them in a long, long while. They were huge in a cult kind of way when I attended university in the states, like 27 years ago. 27 years? That can't be right!

The workshops were always the best thing at the Winnipeg Folk Festival as well.

Do you enjoy Feist? I can't stand Feist. Maybe it was the BeeGee's song that did it for me. Not my cup of tea.

Allison said...

I loved this list because it highlights what I love best about your writing, your ability to make us feel like we were there. When reading the list, I was thought, yes, remember that - wait, I wasn't actually there.

I really want to see The Cons, they're set to release new work this year, no? And Chad VanGaalen, it only for the cardboard cutouts. I'm still smiling at those. Can't you see my grin from here??

Ben said...

A smashing recap of all the highlights. I especially remember your Billy Bragg review.

I liked the way you described his interaction with the crowd.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh yeah, that concert! We shall never speak of that again, John. It was really more the venue that stunk than the band itself, but it did sort of sour me on them a little.

That was a fun one to write too, Mel. Those were some pretty memorable concerts for me.

The Roches are still around, Toccata. And you must have subtracted wrong, otherwise you would have been attending university at the tender age of 5!
Workshops rule - I remember a few of them from the Winnipeg Folk Fest (when I used to attend that 100 years ago) - and you can see hear some pretty amazing collaborations at those.
I'm pretty neutral on Feist, actually, but she looked like she was having a blast when she joined her old bandmates in the BSS set.

Aww that's so sweet, Allison, thanks. I'm humbled and glad that I could bring you a bit of the experience.
The Cons better release a new cd this year! Of course they have had two members release solo albums this year, but I have heard talk of new stuff. And you know who else is long overdue imo? The Weakerthans.

Ben, he was a one-man entertainment machine, he was. I have a hard time deciding whether I enjoyed the music or the chatter more.

Anonymous said...

Saw Billy Bragg here in Chicago in February-- it turned out to be the only concert I made it to this year. I hadn't seen him since 1987. He was terrific-- his wonderful mix of busker, stand-up comedian and left wing politician. The only thing that's changed is that he and I both have kids and a lot of grey in our hair.

Fearless said...

I've had 3 chances to see Wilco and somehow an unforeseen event has always made me incapable of seeing them. I was especially disappointed when the pulled out of Coachella days after I had gotten my ticket. Oh well, still got to see Pixies and Radiohead and Kraftwerk, so I can't complain I guess.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

hahaha that makes three of us on the kids and grey hair, Johnny Yen. I would love to have Billy Bragg over for dinner - can you imagine the conversations?

Neko Case did the same thing to us twice this year, Fearless, backing out of a committment after we got the tickets. Heartbreaking it was.
But I shall be forever jealous of your seeing the Pixies (although I did see Frank Black this year and he actually played some Pixies' songs) and Radiohead - my top band I need to see before I die.

Will said...

Let's hope that 2006 brings with it more great concerts ... and more witty reviews.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Yay! Will called me witty! My head is now swollen.

Barbara Bruederlin said...