The Tragically Hip, 15th November 2012 at Clifton Park, NY – a review

I should probably start by saying that during the course of the hour and a half drive to the venue last night, I was alternately bawling and screaming.  It was that kind of a day.  I’m not going to go into why; I just want to set the scene.  I’d more or less worked out my issues by the time I arrived and I felt a lot better, but I was still raw.

This is hard for me to admit, but Tragically Hip fans are weird.  I don’t mean “Insane Clown Posse Juggalo” weird; I mean “How the hell do these people love the same band that I love?” weird.

I hate that I just used the word “Juggalo” in a post.  And now I’ve done it twice.  Damn.

It was a general admission standing show, and I got there early enough that I was pretty close to the stage, even after going to the bar for a pint.  I was about 4 rows back.  The trouble with being that close to the stage at a Tragically Hip show was that everyone around me was a Tragically Hip fan.  Gord Downie is pulling off an impressive slight of hand; he’s front man in a band that passes as bar rock.  But beneath the surface he packs his songs with more obscure literary references and unanswerable questions than you can shake a stick at.  Based on what I see at shows, I think most of the Hip’s fan base is there because they like bar rock.  On the other hand, I love the Hip mostly because of the lyrics.  Also, the rambling Gord does between and sometimes within songs is epic; major world religions have been based on far less than what he spews out off the cuff. I feel like I need an extra session with my therapist half the time after their shows.

Anyway, last night’s show.  I was way up close, sandwiched between a drunken bearded man who seemed to keep vacillating between either wanting to beat me up or wanting to make stinky Canadian hippie love to me (he eventually got escorted out for lighting up during “Ahead By A Century”), and a drunk young woman who kept trying to get me to finish her drink for her. I think she was trying to roofie me.  Or maybe she was just too polite, even when drunk, to just drop her drink on the floor as everyone else had done.  Which, you know, was kind of sweet of her.  My bearded associate, when he was not either:  1. Putting his arm around me and staring me dead in the eye while singing to me, 2. Grabbing my shirt in preparation for a fight, or 3. Telling all the women around us that I was hot for them – when not otherwise preoccupied with any of these noble tasks, my new bearded BFF/frenemy was himself hitting on every single woman within sight, including the woman who kept trying to give me the dregs of her gin and tonic.  She pulled me over at one point and slurred, “He’s a jerk!”  To which I replied, simply, “Yeah,” with a sympathetic nod and smile.  Because, really, what else was there to say?  But towards the end of the evening, I guess she’d put her grievances with him aside because they were grinding against each other, and I’d rather not picture what may have happened later.  Is this how Hip fans are made?  Gross.

The music – when I could focus on the music, when I wasn’t preoccupied with the fascinating antics of my fellow Hip fans – was, of course, delicious.  It really helped to pull me the rest of the way out of the funk I’d been in on the drive up.  Gord introduced “Gift Shop” by saying, “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry,” which for me was the best intro he could give to that song because pretty much every time I hear it the water works start, and last night was no exception.  “Fireworks” was fun, and slipping “Nautical Disaster” into the middle of “New Orleans Is Sinking” worked really well (I think that’s how “Nautical Disaster” began, actually – as a ramble in the middle of “New Orleans Is Sinking”).

Wow.  I know a lot about the Hip.

The new material was very good, too, though I’m not as familiar with it.  I was a little disappointed not to hear “Goodnight Attawapiskat;” I kind of expected them to close with it.  Otherwise, it was a great show!  But I’m kind of glad that at least until the next time they tour, I can go back to enjoying the Hip on my own, without the peculiar ministrations of my fellow fans.

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pet peeve

Why is it that certain people feel a need to give “the grand tour” to new house guests?  I don’t need to see the bathroom in your master bedroom suite.  “And here’s where I take a monster dump every morning.  Whoo-ee!  Man does it stink in here afterwards.  Okay, now on to the S&M dungeon.”

I know what a house looks like.  Not to brag, but I’ve seen a house or two in my day.  I’ll ask if I need to know where the bathroom is.  I don’t really care about the rest of it.

Unless, of course, you actually do have an S&M dungeon, in which case I definitely want to see that shit.  But then I will probably be totally creeped out and never visit you again.  So plan accordingly.

short story

A few years ago, I walked into a restaurant during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, and immediately discovered that I was slightly underdressed.  Uncomfortable with this realization, I told myself “Well, if they kick me out, I’m going to proclaim in a loud and haughty voice that I’ve been kicked out of nicer places than this.”

Then I remembered that actually, I had been kicked out of nicer places than that.

Lesson learned:  It’s a wonderful feeling when you realize that the person you pretend to be when you need to muster up your courage is, in fact, you.

my pet dragon: Mountains and Cities – a review

I remember listening to an interview with Gord Downie from The Tragically Hip a few years ago.  He talked about how during the early days of the band, before they found critical and popular success, he began feeling as though he had a secret.  He and the rest of the band knew they were producing great music, but the rest of the world (okay, well, the rest of Canada) didn’t know it yet.

I know what he meant, because I, too, am in on a secret.

Thanks to an inside connection, I managed to score a pre-release copy of My Pet Dragon’s new LP, Mountains and Cities.  People, this album is GREAT.  This is music to play while celebrating private victories over personal demons.  This is music to play while you dance around your apartment wearing tube socks and a tank top, singing into the handle of your hair brush.  This is music to play after deciding that no, Adele’s (otherwise very fine) new record is not going to help you get over your break-up, it is time to stop wallowing and start embracing the good.  (Not that I’m speaking from personal experience, of course.)

“Well sure,” I can hear you all thinking, “that’s all very well and good, and lord knows I love dancing around my apartment in tube socks and a tank top, but what’s the music like?”  Luscious melodies.  Lovely, lovely soundscapes.  Gorgeously layered vocals.  Beautiful, evocative guitar work.  These are really well crafted and produced pop songs that are somehow not just pop songs, but something soaring beyond.  It’s hard to pick out favourite tracks; every song on this album is clearly a work of art and an act of love, and every song feels like my favourite when it starts to play.  And part of me wants to keep this to myself, because the album is that good, but the better part of me knows that I should play nice and share.

My Pet Dragon, Mountains and Cities – the record drops on 2nd August.  Just buy it.  You’ll thank me later.  Or maybe you’ll forget to thank me later, but I’ll know that you meant to.

hip openers, backbends

Fantastic class yesterday in Rhinebeck; blasted Ani DiFranco’s Living in Clip the whole way there and back, and did most of my favourite poses during class.  A sample of what we worked on:

highlight

One of my yoga teachers is back from India, and it’s been great taking classes with her again.  Last night I drove up to Rhinebeck blasting the Runaways, took a wicked intense class with her (I really thought my arms were going to give out at several points during the ropes work – I’m just not used to using my arms tensilely rather than compressively), followed by blasting the Runaways on the drive home.  Awesome!

michelle mcadorey

You know… I was going to write a post about three goddesses (Artemis, Kali, Sedna) with whom I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately, and to whom I sometimes pray*, but I realised a few weeks ago that these three, specifically, are probably the absolute worst goddesses to pray to.  They don’t really answer prayers.  They just tend to destroy things or kill people when they get involved in human affairs (Artemis perhaps not quite so much as the others, but still).  They’re the sorts of goddesses that rational people would hope to be left the hell alone by.  Interesting that I seem to resonate best with deities who share that unifying characteristic.  Fools rush in, as they say.

So while I work though my mixed feelings about all of that, instead I’ll write a few words about Michelle McAdorey (who, as far as I’m aware, does not have any supernatural powers, nor a pronounced bent on destroying mankind).  She fronted a Toronto band called Crash Vegas in the 90’s, and their first album, Red Earth, is still one of my favourites.  Her voice is absolutely lovely.  Crash Vegas released two more albums, then she released a solo album, Whirl (all of which are out of print).  Then, if Google searches are to be trusted, she sort of disappeared from the music scene.  She has a myspace page that doesn’t seem to be in use, but seems to have very little other web presence.  No website that I could find, inactive fan groups on facebook.  Oh, my search provided lots of other tantalizing information; she’s the girl in the Blue Rodeo video for Try, she rode the rails in north Ontario while writing the songs on Whirl, and she was in the 80s band Corect Spelling (also known both “Cold Fish” and “Sushi”).  But there seemed to be no record of what she’s doing now.

Well, this all piqued my curiosity further.  It’s so rare that anyone with even the slightest modicum of renown can elude the interwebs so completely.  Also (and this was my initial and primary purpose), I still wanted to see if I could track down her solo album.  Ebay has been completely unhelpful (likewise maplemusic), and Amazon Marketplace lists just one copy for sale, with an asking price of a whopping $199.94.  Gentle readers, I am a fan of her work, but I do have my limits (ie, low double digits to the left of the decimal point, max).

So with high hopes and low expectations I Google searched again, and at the bottom of the page, under the heading “Searches related to…”, I found a surprising and helpful suggestion.  Following the first link provided by the suggested search gave me an answer to the question of what she’s doing now.  Apparently, she’s a yoga teacher now, at an Ashtanga studio in Toronto.  Wow!  That’s not at all the answer I was expecting.  But why not?  Doesn’t it make sense that yoga would be the force uniting everything that I like?

I’m not sure what my next move will be.  I was hoping this search would end with a website where I could order her CD, not an actual real life person who’s just an email away.  Do I email her, introduce myself as a fan, and politely ask if she has any idea where I could pick up her out of print album?  Maybe.  Maybe not, though.  I sure as hell wouldn’t want someone bugging me about things I was doing twenty years ago.  Guess I’ll mull it over.

*Yes, I’m an agnostic yoga teacher who sometimes prays.  I don’t see much of any conflict in that, but that is the topic of another blog post altogether.