Recommended Listening For Mood Elevation
Young Gifted And Black – Aretha Franklin
The quality of her tone is iresistable to me. I forget everything except opening my ears fully to absorb the richness of it. And she sings some beautiful words with her beautiful voice. The band on this record is also very amazing. Classy, tasteful, but still sexy. The whole album glows with pure inspiration.
Hotter Than July – Stevie Wonder
This was the first record that I noticed could get me feeling happy within the first 30 seconds of the first song. Sometimes, when I’m really down it can take a whole minute to get happy. It’s astounding to think that all of this music was inside him waiting to come out, and he was able to express it and capture it. These are some of his best love songs, and I’m always comforted by the thought that someone can describe so clearly how good it feels to be in love.
We drove all day today. It was pretty nice, it got warmer as we went along and I think we traveled south all day. It’s nice and warm here at Queen’s University in Kingston, and it’s not raining. I’m feeling much better today and I’m looking forward to playing for a college crowd.
The Clarke Hall Pub was small, the booze was plentiful and cheap, and it had good lighting and a decent sized stage. There were already a lot of people settling in for a long night of drinking and socializing. Alas, there were 2 flights of stairs to climb and 3 sharp corners. And no monitors, some other band had blown them up.
I found a little coffee bar close by and soon enough we were sitting on two low comfy couches with a table of coffees and beer. Mike and Ferdy read, I knitted, and Grief played his gameboy. This is how we spend every evening. In a bar, waiting to play. Here is our the sum of our existence: Drive all day to venue. Load in, sit in bar for a few hours, listen to bands, set up, play, tear down, hopefully sell merch, load out, hopefully collect $50. Sleep in van at truck stop and repeat. Such is the glamor of rock and roll.I’m sure we must look a little weird to the locals at the bars. A table of outsiders who arrive together, and sit at the same table ignoring each other wrapped up in a deliberately solitary activity. We mostly drink coffee. A lot of coffee. And water. Ferdy drinks some beer. Sometimes Mike drinks beer too. Grief doesn’t drink beer and I don’t drink before playing. Usually we’re wearing earplugs as well.
I can explain. We’re permanently sleep deprived and dehydrated so we need to drink a lot of coffee and water. We have nothing to say to each other because we’ve been jammed together in a van all day. It’s bad enough to go deaf playing in the Fems, but even worse to go deaf listening to everybody else. And we’ve learned through countless bad experiences that it’s better to distract oneself from having to listen to a bad band than waste your life listening to bad music hacked out by hacks. It’s a good thing we each have our little Distractor Device. I know for myself that knitting has removed the overwhelming compulsion I felt so often while listening to a shitty band to leap on to the stage, grab the mic and scream “get off the stage, you pedantic little pissant! Stop torturing us with your sloppy out of tune melody-free rhythm-free steaming auditory turds”… or something along those lines. Occupational hazard, I guess. Now I don’t have to hide in the washroom as much. And I can make lovely scarves for everyone I know.
The opening band, however, nearly drove us all around the bend, overpowering our Distractor Devices effortlessly. They were part of an alarming trend I am currently observing in Canadian indie music, the white boy reggae band. One one hand, it was pretty funny to watch pale, soft, chubby university boys sing their songs about waking up in the morning and finding life too hard to bear. I think they thought that living in Kingston Ontario was the same thing as living in Kingston Jamaica. They also managed to stand completely still while performing, which gives you an idea of how awful their reggae feel was. The lead singer dedicated a song to beer, (“This one’s for beer! I love you, beer!”) thus reinforcing every stereotype I have ever absorbed about college frat boys. They ordered everyone to dance but no one obliged. That was funny too. Then they did a Sublime cover, during which they forgot the lyrics to and made up their own. I felt like I was being leveled with too many assaults at once. A bad band playing a bad song by a bad band badly. I glared at my knitting needles and concentrated fiercely. Knit, knit, purl, purl, I thought determinedly.
It was hopeless. They were unstoppable. I looked up reluctantly, like you look reluctantly at roadkill as you speed by it . Grief was whispering furiously into Belland’s ear and they both looked pained. Mike shook his head sadly and furrowed his brow as he forced himself to keep reading. I don’t know how long they really played for, probably about a hundred years. I was having a pretty good time tonight, I realized. The coffee was hot and strong, and at least I was being entertained.
The second band, who of course I thought would be terrible because I had been soured completely by the first band, was awesome. They were Junction, and they were a three piece that sounded as big as an orchestra. They played sincerely, passionately. The singer had a beautiful voice, and there were many melodies to be had. The crowd went nuts and spontaneously flooded the dance floor in a sudden rush. Ah.
Then it was us and it was a jumping bouncing stomping good time. Grief and I couldn’t hear one iota of our vocals, but I knew we were in tune and hitting everything at the same time. As long as we can see each other I can manage. I’m sure we’d sound like crap if we had to sing with no monitors in the dark. God forbid.
The crowd was generous, fun, energetic. Ah, university life. We played at just an absurdly high volume. I think probably we overwhelm some PA’s sometimes. It was a very small, square cube of a classroom full of people drinking and very bright, hot spotlights. It was viciously loud, blazingly bright, and gosh it was fun to play really fast songs. Grief and Ferdy looked as if they might melt.
Afterward we sold some cd..s and shirts and lots of people said very nice things. Nicely elevating for team morale, and coming up next was Hamilton and playing with NoMeansNo again.