Thursday, September 11, 2008

Destination Unknown...

...or a report on events that transpired down at the ol' concert hall the other night. Rather than try to write something that looks like an actual concert review, I present you with a series of random observations:


  • Massive lineup to get in, but fortunately we're well towards the front. Security very tight, with a large police presence, but everything seems fairly good-humoured. That's good, because it's not necessarily the default setting for events like this.
  • And now we're being separated into girls' and boys' lineups! I think that the last time I did this was about Grade 3.
  • Joe Keithley, lead singer of DOA, saunters past with a cup of coffee (*clonk* - sound of a name being dropped).
  • We're in! There are lots and lots of people milling about the merchandise tables and concession stands. Many young punks, but also a fair number of older folks, many of them presumably scenesters from back in the day. There's the odd skinhead wandering about. And, we seem to have a contingent of the "baseball-cap-on-backwards" brigade, for some reason. They are drinking beer in the beer gardens, and calling each other "Bro." The overall age range that I've spotted so far would be from about 10 to about 55.

Wednesday Night Heroes

  • I don't know too much about these guys, except that they're quite highly rated around here, enough to get them onto a ticket with DOA and Rancid.
  • They are enthusiastic, and loud. Particularly the lead singer.
  • They do manage to get a circle pit started at the front a couple of times, but it dies out after one or two songs. People are saving their efforts for later, I guess.
  • A tidy half-hour set. I think they'd be fun to see in a somewhat more intimate setting.


  • Funny story: Back in, I believe, the 1970s, the Soviet ambassador to Canada paid a historic visit to a Doukhbor community in British Columbia, an event that some historians consider a very early sign of the glasnost that was to come. In the last year or so, a reporter from a Canadian magazine went out to talk to that Doukhbor group about the ambassador's visit. After his interview with the elder members of the community was finished, and dinner had been consumed, the reporter was asked if he would perhaps like to hear some music. He agreed, resigning himself to an evening of Russian folk tunes. And then they took him to see DOA.
  • DOA have been playing punk rock for 30 years, which probably accounts for the presence of many of the older folks at the concert.
  • The band kicks things off with "World War 3," one of their very early songs. Pleasantly, they've turned the volume down a bit, having seemingly recognised that "ear-bleedingly loud" is not necessary.
  • Keithley looks very fit.
  • Yay! An expletive-filled anti-Stephen Harper rant from Mr. Keithley, right before, IIRC, playing "General Strike."
  • And, after a selection of their better-known works, the set is over. Sadly, they did not play "World Falls Apart," so I'll give you the video here to make up for it:


  • Much excitement as the headliners take the stage launch into... I actually can't remember precisely what they started with. They played "Roots Radicals" very early on, though.
  • The crowd where we're standing gets a little bit squirrely at the beginning of Rancid's set, largely due to the actions of one Mr. Aggro (not his real name, probably). One of things that you get early in punk rock sets is people pushing their way to the front to dance, along with people pushing their way to the back to get out of the pit. So, you get bumped into a lot, sometimes quite hard. Mr. Aggro is not handling this very well, and in fact is taking swings at anybody who runs into him. Some of the people at whom he is swinging are objecting. Fortunately, crowd peristalsis moves Mr. Aggro away from our general area, and, as everybody gets to where they want to be, things settle down.
  • And... I'm goin' with the earplugs for this one. Sigh. Actually, they work really well. The music is still easily loud enough to let you know you're at a gig, but not loud enough to cause physical pain.
  • They band rolls through "Knowledge," an old Operation Ivy song. Neat!
  • Rancid have always been one of the musically more capable punk bands out there, and they are ON this evening. They're also, unfortunately, a little remote at the start of their set; it is, after all, opening night for this tour. However, as the set goes on they start interacting with the crowd a bit more, with guitarist/vocalist Lars Frederikson hauling most of the freight in this regard.
  • Lead man Tim Armstrong occasionally seems to get lost in his own little world (it is possible, possible, that there are pharmaceutical reasons for this). This, however, is fairly standard concert behaviour for him, and is actually kind of endearing.
  • Bassist Matt Freeman is contenting himself with being, IMHO, the best bass player in rock'n'roll (forget just punk rock) today. The band plays "Maxwell Murder," which gives him his very own solo, and he nails it.
  • Break Time! Three quarters of the band takes a breather, leaving Frederikson alone on stage to do a solo, almost gentle, version of "The War's End." Like so (the video's from a gig in Japan a few years back):

  • All-in-all, the band gets through most of what you'd expect to hear at a Rancid gig, including a really nice version of "Old Friend," which always gets people up and jumping around. Is there anything I'd like to have heard, but didn't? Yeah, probably, but I can't think of it offhand ("She's Automatic," maybe).
  • The close things off with "Ruby Soho," giving me an excuse to post this excellent video, again from Japan. Be warned! There's NSFW language in the pre-song banter:

  • Encore! Encore! They come back out and play "Time Bomb," and that's all she wrote! Very impressive, particularly Mr. Frederikson.


  • Eximus omnes.
  • We get lost in the tunnels and parking garages under downtown, and end up surfacing over near Chinatown. Ah well.
  • And a fine time was had by most! All three bands did well, the crowd was in good form (Mr. Aggro aside), and it was all highly satisfying!

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