Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Every Speed On Our Knees Is Crawling

There is no better venue for music in Edmonton than The Starlite. I love the warped and tilted floor in front of the stage, the dark alley to the door, the pizza parlour slash obvious crack-front just left of the main undoors, the way the mensroom is practically part of that downstairs hallway, the stairs everyone gets stalled on, even the coatcheck girl's shoes (they were red, white, and blue Adidas). It all contributes, you know? And it all contributed to a strong show for Metric at The Starlite last night. There's a massive "but" buried in there, though. But, I was a bit disappointed in The Most Serene Republic. Not that I caught their whole set, but from the little I did catch (a few brief glimpses of their last two songs), they seemed to sound like a typical indie-rock band. Which is fine, but I was hoping for something a bit out of the ordinary from the only non-BSS band on Arts & Crafts. Well, maybe I missed their finer moments on stage. But as I was saying earlier, Metric was tough, a combat baby if there ever was one. Emily Haines' robotic dance moves are casually insane, like your cousin dancing at the family picnic and you never told anyone you thought she was cool and sexy (well, I never did, that's for sure). For the first song, "Empty", she would sing a few lines, keyboarding away, and then the bass would crowd her out, the music crashing down huge. She'd take a step back, put her hands on her waist and jerk her head back and forth like a Barbie doll looking left and right, long blonde hair like circle-knives hiding her face. "Shake your head it's empty / Shake your hips move your feet / Shake your head it's empty / Shake your hips move your feet". And repeat. And repeat. There were those famous little kicks, too, and the quick punk march, even some classic scissor kicks. No wonder that girl is so thin. The sound was muddy at first, or maybe it was where I was standing, but things cleared up about halfway through the set, about the time she started swinging her arms to "Combat Baby". I don't understand why she didn't include "The Police And The Private" (their best song off the new album, I think), but she redeemed the band with a killer extended version of "Dead Disco" in the encore, and "Love Is A Place" finished the night, the lights going out to the line "Nothing but blue skies". I've seen better concerts, yeah, but this is Metric, and this was worth the money. They've been here before, I know, but as long as the bassist keeps wearing pink shirts, as long as the guitarist plays and dodges like someone's shooting at him, as long as that drummer can hold those beats on "Dead Disco", and as long as Emily Haines can keep dancing and singing, I hope they come again.

Reading: There's a lot of crap out there, in The Kingdom Of Books. Someday I hope to contribute. Meanwhile, I sometimes have trouble separating the crap I like from the crap I don't like. Edgar Rice Burroughs good, Alan Dean Foster bad (unless you're talking The Tar-Aiym Krang or that one where all the whales are flying at the end). Roger Zelazny amazing, of course (Lord Of Light, anyone?), Poul Anderson horrible. Note: I also read other genres besides science fiction. I just can't remember what they are. There are books I think are going to be terrific (how bad did The Hobbit suck?) and then there are things, like the Tintin stories, which should suck, but don't. Among books which should blow would be books based on an imaginary feudal Japan, books whose hero would be a young boy, books whose hero would be that young boy being part of a secret clan called The Tribe, books with old-man ninjas who become invisible but never really fight. The book I read contained all of those elements, and does not move very fast, I'll tell you that. Every speed is crawling, here. But the book succeeds. The book succeeds for the same reason those Harry Potter books succeed. Because the author weighs the dice so heavily against her hero, that us readers can't help but cheer for him. I feel so manipulated. But I still went out and bought the sequel to this book (and, btw, this books also comes as a little chap-book in the children's section, wafer-thin Bible-pages crammed with tiny print!), because, after all, ninjas are ninjas, and the writing is very poetic, there's a lot of fairly different characters, everyone's been given a secret agenda, and there's wooden floor that squeaks when an assassin walks across it. Oh, that last one is a gooder, you bet. So is Across The Nightingale Floor + Lian Hearn

Listening: And then there was this band. Which I'm not sure if they're named after the movie, but they remind me in all the best ways of a certain collection of stories, instead, the hilarious and cleverly disastrous redneck hick-adventures of Patrick F. McManus in They Shoot Canoes, Don't They? Described as hillbilly art-rock, and there's a brutal mash for you, they're just plain good. And they've got a crazy-good website. Which seems to be based around a pickle. Although their music, isn't. Based around a pickle, that is. The music is based around the instruments, of course, which include a slide trombone, little used outside of Lawrence Welk circles, and a keyboard. There are drums played by a girl, which is always sexy, and the usual bass and guitar. Such excellent music, this, like Bright Eyes if Connor Oberst listened to Glen Miller and wasn't suicidal. Okay, not like Bright Eyes at all, then, but I don't know where to start. You start first. This is one of their best "Transmitting" + They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

No comments: