Oh Susanna, the Constantines, the Weakerthans
MacEwan Hall, Calgary - April 25/09
MacEwan Hall, Calgary - April 25/09
If you were on BLIP.FM this morning, you would know what I and some of my fellow Calgary blippers thought of the Weakerthans/Constantines concert at Mac Hall last night. Here's a sample of some of the exchanges:
Me: to my boyfriends the Cons - sorry the audience was so lame last night - I love you
Also me: to my boyfriends the Weakerthans - great show, sorry about the lame crowd
Mandaleah: doesn't calgary have like the worse crowds... this city is full of douchery
Me: yes, Calgary is full of assholes who show the Constantines no love at all at concerts wtf
Fated: But on the bright side I now have wicked commie themed constantines hoodie
This is the fifth time I have seen both the Constantines and the Weakerthans in concert, and the second time I have seen them perform on the same bill. This first time was at a much smaller venue, where the audience was so engaged that I witnessed tears as people sang lustily along. That night was magical.
Last night was sort of sad. The show opened with a short set by Oh Susanna, who was accompanied by Chantal Vitalis (she of Kris Demeanor and his Crack Band fame). It was a decent set, very heartfelt singer-songwriterly stuff in which all the songs were very personal and earnest, but definitely stuck to a theme. The crowd was politer than one usually sees for a first opener, but unfortunately, never really got past that polite but reserved stance all night.
I'm not really sure what the problem was. Maybe what the Resident Offspring said is true and Weakerthans fans are actually bigger assholes than one would expect. She did hear a couple of Neanderthals scoff when Steve Lambke was singing, and question his sexual orientation. That's certainly not the Weakerthans' fan way.
Admittedly, the Constantines did play quite a few of their more reserved songs, and I wish they had let rip with National Hum, but still it wasn't until Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright), which was about 7 or 8 songs into the set, that there was any sustained clapping along. And I didn't see any fist pumping until the final song. There were only a handful of us who raised arms in respect.
There did appear to be a tiny enclave of Constantines' fans way on the other side of the hall, and I should have made my way over there to lend solidarity. I could have stood beside the dude who yelled out "I like your shirt, Bry", because I had just finished asking the Spousal Unit "does Bry Webb even own a shirt that isn't plaid?" We could have exchanged notes.
Sweet moment: John K Samson joining the Constantines to sing Little Instruments. Sadly, the Constantines did not return the favour to join the Weakerthans on stage for an encore, as they did so magnificently when I first saw them share a bill, or as they did at other shows on this tour. The Spousal Unit saw JKS trying to encourage them to come back onstage and evidently they declined. I don't blame them one bit though.
I figured the audience was saving up their love and their energy for the Weakerthans, and the hall certainly became packed for their set. I spent most of the time glaring at the back of the tall woman with the freakishly big head who parked herself directly in front of me. I'm sure she and her gentleman friend, who talked the whole set, were not intentionally trying to piss me off, but when they would suck on each other's faces every two minutes, thereby effectively blocking any chance of my seeing the stage, I found it hard not to take it personally.
The audience were certainly much louder for the Weakerthans' set, but I saw hardly any dancing. I think I was just in the company of a bunch of toadstools last night. Or perhaps mashed potatoes without gravy.
The Weakerthans though did seem to enjoy themselves. The band were exceedingly tight, and the grin never left JKS' face. And even though the Resident Offspring claims he looks more and more like a junior high social teacher every year, he is still bad-ass.
It should have been such a magnificent concert. But every live performance depends on some give and take between the performers and the audience. And last night, the audience phoned in their part.