Monday, March 31, 2008
"If I went to a place like this when I was younger, I would have turned out alright..."
When I was a kid, it was easy to make fun of Deadheads. Since I was sure I was a punk (I'm pretty sure now that I wasn't), and I had seen Sid & Nancy (several times), I recognized hippies as my natural enemies. I'm not sure whether the fact that my parents were, or had been, hippies added or took away from this belief. And who was a more archetypal hippy than a Deadhead?
What really made it easy to make fun of Deadheads, though, was that I didn't know any. They were just abstract scapegoats that I couldn't understand, and didn't want to. The whole fascination with trading tapes of Grateful Dead concerts was beyond me. At the time, per my limited worldview, it seemed as though it was just easy to actually see the Dead as it was to get your hands on a tape of them. All you needed was the desire.
I eventually overcame my distrust of the Grateful Dead and those who followed them (or wished they had). I even became good friends with a few people who actively considered themselves Jerry Garcia fans. And maybe, just maybe, I came to admit that the Dead was actually a pretty great jugband when they wanted to be. (The same might said of yams, but that's a different story.)
But I've never really gotten into recordings of shows. I guess there's some secret snob inside me (ho, ho, you say, it's not that secret, Emmet) that considers them poor surrogates to the almighty Live Experience. I could probably count the live albums I own on one and a half hands, and anybody who's ever been to my house knows I own a lot of albums. Anybody who's ever lived in my house (other than me) would even say I own too many albums. Pish posh to that, I say.
Thankfully, Richard the Soundmann doesn't share my narrow-minded view of live recordings. He's just some music fan in Waterloo with a very plain and wonderful website where he posts clips of recordings he's made at concerts he's been to. I was turned on (as the kids say) to his site by Andrew Vincent's MySpace page. I'm just starting to listen to his many offerings, but, what the hell, he's making a convert outta me.
Richard's got clips of shows by a veritable Who's Who of CanRock luminaries, from Caribou and Rock Plaza Central to the Sadies and Dan Mangan. If you're the type of kindred spirit who considers logging on to CBC Radio 3 the only way to make the workday bearable, you'll enjoy what Richard has to offer.
All this CanRock talk is reminding me of Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance, a fine book written by Michael Barclay, Ian A.D. Jack and Jason Schneider--who edited the handful of reviews I wrote for Exclaim! and seemed on the phone and through email to be a thoroughly decent fellow. The book, which focused on Canadian rock music between 1985 and 1995, came out in 2001, a time when not a whole lot was going on, CanRock-wise. Shows were really, really poorly attended. Indie rock had become something of a slur, even as major labels were wholesale downsizing to the point where even last year's shittiest corporate radio Canadian Content hitmakers were now calling themselves "indie". But there was still, in my opinion, lots of great music happening. It just seemed like I was the only one who cared. I remember the final chapter of the book didn't seem too hopeful about what would come next for CanRock, or maybe I was just playing that Western Canadian alienated Old Dutch-chip-on-my-shoulder thing that I used as a crutch back then. Either way, you should read the book, it's great, even if it may or may not give short shrift to anyone who never opened for the Rheostatics (who are kind of the Toronto gen-Xer version of the Dead). What you should also do is start collecting your notes and files for Citizens of Tomorrow: What CanRock Did Next.
mp3: "Cover It Up/Diane" by Andrew Vincent