I’m back, friends. I had to take a bit of a hiatus due to, well, the new website. “But Dave,” I’m sure you’re saying, “the new website has been up for a couple of weeks! This is your first entry into what was supposed to be a joint venture. Where have you been, while Shaun has been picking up the slack? YOUR slack?”
I’ve been busy okay? Shut it.
Sorry about that hostility. I'll get back into the swing of things. So I figured I might as well start off with a good one.
As we all know, music is one of my favourite things in the history of favourite things. Between tickets, travel, accommodations, food, beer, merchandise and more beer, I have spent a small fortune going to concerts.
I could write a blog about my top-5 shows of all time. But we all know that would be four Pearl Jam shows and one Pearl Jam show. So I'm straying from the path a bit and I'm going to give you a different top-5 concerts: My top-5 sleeper hit concerts.
What is a sleeper hit concert, you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked! (That was awkward phrasing. Well done, Dave) A sleeper hit concert is one where you have no expectations and then WHAM! you love it. I have had a few of those in the past and now you get to hear about them.
5) Pearl Jam - Calgary, 2005
Okay. This one is kind of cheating. And I probably shouldn't put it on here. But it's kind of true (and I also needed something to round out my 5).
I liked Pearl Jam before seeing them live but I never knew what sort of concerts they had. This was long before the advent of YouTube. And by "long before" what I meant was that YouTube came out mere months before I saw this concert. But YouTube was new and I didn't really know what it was. Also I'm pretty sure there wasn't a lot of PJ related videos up at the beginning.
This show was unreal. They opened with Oceans (from Ten) and that was the beginning of the end for me. The setlist they played was truly rock-solid. I didn't know what it was when I was experiencing it but as the current fan I am now, I look back on the set (and listen to the bootleg, obviously) and I wish I would have been a larger fan at the time; I would have gone crazy. About as crazy as the last time I saw them in Calgary.
It was the beginning of the end for me, friends. And it was the start of a journey on which I'll never look back.
4) NIN - Red Rocks, 2014
The first time I saw this group was at Sasquatch Festival in 2010. It was okay but not great. Mostly because I wasn't much of a fan at the time, and I was distracted by other bands and other things at the festival. Truth be told, I don't think I saw the whole set.
Last year, I had a chance to see them again.
On St. Patricks Day of that year, the same day I got my truck, actually, we scored tickets to two shows that summer at Red Rocks. Mostly, I was pumped to go on a road-trip to see one of the greatest all-time venues. Also, Soundgarden was opening for them (and who am I to skip an opportunity to see them??)
So there we were, in the middle of Colorado, and Soundgarden had just left the stage. Enter T-Rez et al.
Jeebus. The show was phenomenal. I would say that one of my favourite parts was the stage show. His stage designer (who is apparently around my age) is terrific.
But man, the show itself was also absolutely fantastic! Trent Reznor is a genius. I would go see them again in a heartbeat.
3) The Raconteurs - Bonnaroo, 2008
I know I shouldn't have been surprised about this one. It's Jack White. The man can shred.
I knew about them prior to going to the show but never had much of a desire to really see them. They opened up for Chris Rock who subsequently opened for Metallica.
(At this point, I feel like it's pertinent to mention I was at Bonnaroo to see Pearl Jam [for the 5th time])
So I saw Jack White shred.
I loved the Pearl Jam show that weekend. In fact, it was probably the best night of my life. More on that later (if'n you want me to write about that particular topic). But the sleeper hit of the weekend goes to the Raconteurs.
Later that year, I bought their second album (as it was the only one I could find) and I listened to it for 2 straight weeks. It's still one of my favourite albums.
2) Hawksley Workman, Calgary 2010
A solid Canadian band who I'd heard on the radio a few times and thought "meh. They're okay."
I never had tickets for this show, I hadn't planned on going. Well I got a message from my friend Emma on the day of the show. Her boss had given her tickets for the show and she needed somebody to go with.
What the hell? Why not do it? It's a free show, right?
Holy crap, you guys! What a show. The opener's name was Colleen Brown, an Edmonton girl who was stellar. I actually ended up working with her 3 years later when she played bass for our production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. So that was cool.
Anyway... Hawksley blew it out of the water. Each guy in the band played several instruments and they just slaughtered the show. Made an instant convert in me. They didn't play one song I knew and that was awesome. I was introduced to a massive world of terrific. I don't know what songs they played, I was too busy having my face melted off.
1) Hayes Carll, Cochrane 2013
My brother and a couple of my cousins were massive fans of Hayes Carll. My brother had played some of his stuff at our cabin one night, but I was too busy arguing with another cousin to pay any attention to it.
But when my cousin mentioned that they were going to the show, I figured it was a chance to have some brewskis, and go watch some folk music.
As is the trend, the show was amazing!
I think the previous time he played Calgary, he had his full band playing with him. The time he played in Cochrane, it was him and a guitarist. His guitarist, incidentally, was also his opener.
All he did was play music, tell stories and play more music. What an entertainer.
Again, like the Raconteurs, I picked up a few of his albums and they get major, major playtime.
Thanks Ben, Mac and Mike!
So there you have it, my friends. My first of the new blogs. I hope you enjoyed it. I'll check in with you... eventually.