are always surprises. Sometimes it’s the quality of the performance itself, but in this case it was the very existence of the show.
Looking up the starting time for Tuesday night’s Zombi/Maserati show, I stumbled across a listing for last night’s Grates/Life and Times/ Bad Flirt show at the Main Hall. I’m a big fan of the Life and Times and Allen Epley’s brand of anthemic rock (his previous band, Shiner, was practically life-changing when I first heard them). So we went from having no plans last night to catching a show.
True to Montreal form, shows start on time — but there is some kind of secret hipster network where everyone except me knows what time the show actually starts. We arrive at the venue at 8pm when the show is supposed to start, and are informed by the very nice doorman/bartender that the doors will open at 9 (it would be 9:30). The hockey game is on next door at the Green Room, so we go and watch what turned out to be a very exciting, shootout-ending Toronto-Montreal game with a small group of vocal Habs fans. By the time we get back to the venue, the bartender and coat check woman both want to know how the game ended.
So onto the show. The Life and Times was my primary motivation to attend and I was not disappointed. I hadn’t seen the new band, but Epley’s performances with Shiner were always great and I even saw them once or twice at poorly promoted gigs playing to nearly empty rooms. They played giant and anthemic songs performed at punishingly high volume. Melodic and drowning in effects, just as I like it. The new material was particularly delightful since I didn’t even know it existed. They’ve been around for awhile but the newest songs suggest a level of sophistication that never happens on a band’s first album. Afterward I went up and talked to Epley (who I know a little only because I was enough of a fan of Shiner to offer to put them up when they visited Pittsburgh back when I lived there. I haven’t done that for any other band where I didn’t know one of the members beforehand.) Anyway, this was their first Canadian tour. They made money, so I hope they come back.
I arrived with no expectations for the other bands. Bad Flirt were young. Really young. Carrie saw some people helping them haul gear out and wondered if they had parents as roadies. (1) But then, maybe they thought I was really old. Back in grad school my band once shared a stage with Emocore heroes Braid, and after the show one of the guys comes up to us and says “that was an awesome show. It’s great that you can still rock when you’re older.” And that was probably 10 years ago. Anyway, they were fun, funny, and had good banter with their friends. The songs were catchy but also big–which is no wonder since they had 3 guitars and a keyboard player. The keyboard player appeared to rock out the most. I picked up their CD 6 Ways to Break Your Heart.
The last band was the Grates, what are a little pop-punky for my tastes (which was even more apparent when you realize how empty the stage looked after The Life and Times removed all their equipment) but wow did their lead singer put on a show, and her inbetween song banter was probably the funniest I’ve ever seen. Her use of foul language was downright innovative, which is no small feat in the rock world. She got the audience more involved than I’ve seen in a long, long time. And the drummer smiled while she was playing for almost every song. Even though the music wasn’t my thing, it was among the most entertaining shows I’ve seen.
Not bad for a single night.
1. If the band searches themselves and finds this comment, my apologies. I know it’s not rock and roll to mention parents, but then it’s not rock and roll to mention grad school either.