Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Roadbed (with Ross Vegas and The Feminists) at the Railway, November 26
I refused to take the Roadbed quiz last Friday night. It provokes embarrassment and self-recrimination whenever I get involved, whether I’m winning it or administrating it. Besides, I glanced at the questions, and they were too hard. I did pick up the latest Lynx Paw Courier, however. If I was still in school, I’d clip out page 2 for my portfolio in hopes someone might be impressed by trite rock journalese. I salute Roadbed and their concert-occasioned documentation.

Ross Vegas (featuring Hey Rock, Smash, and Willingdon Black), began the evening. Hey Rock is one helluva singer and an affable bandleader. It’s rare that I’ve been in a band situation where the vocals were not an “issue” inside or outside the band, so I know how valuable a performer Hey Rock is. The group as a whole worked the smoove groove just fine. Even though their music’s not really my thing, they’re bloody good at it. No showboating, yet no passengers. Watching my Tarkake rhythm section partner Smash, I had to wonder how it must be for him to play with a real drummer up there on stage.

Roadbed! I came to see—Roadbed! At the Railway! I hoped the model trains circulating overhead would inspire a killer show. And they did…although this was a particular kind of killer show. Roadbed can turn in a variety of killer shows. Friday night was a solid, hit-song-based killer show, not a jazz holocaust killer show or a punk rock killer show…nor was it a combination of all three, as sometimes happens. I went up and sat on the floor in front of the stage. Not that the passageway at the Railway isn’t a comfortable place to be, but I get enough hallway action every Sunday at our ’kake sessions. They did lots of old tunes—“Deep Fried,” “Carolina,” “Time to Shockk,” et cetera.—with not a lot of “extras,” like extended outro jams or solos. Super Robertson, Shockk and Sim were keeping it on the rails, playing well and name-checking everyone in attendance (Super sent the majestic “King’s Quest” out to me). I don’t want to go on about bass tone in every review that I write, but Smash’s keen SUNN O))) head was doing wonders for Super’s sound.

Midway through the set, I got the Roadbed equivalent of “caught in a mosh” when a chap tried to deliver his completed quiz to the band, only to have a drunk woman wad it up and chuck in the corner. She resumed her “Whee, it’s Friday and I’m druuuuoonk!” dancing while the hapless contestant retrieved his paper from the side of the stage. When she tried to snatch it away from him again, he bodychecked her into a stack of band equipment. I wasn’t certain if I should be alarmed by his rough tactics or relieved that I was momentarily spared from her erratically bobbing, inebriated arse in my face.

I have to mention Super’s puppet show. With musical backing from Mr. Black and Shockk, he opened Roadbed’s set with his most successful display to date—far more coherent than the time he used salt and pepper shakers to perform a skit for me and my bewildered sister at a coffee shop in Burnaby. Tiny Dr. Barb has yet to recover, I think.

The Feminists played until the wee hours. They were good and really original in a natural “this is what the four of us happen to sound like” kind of way, with vocals that reminded me of Mac from Superchunk and heavy driving rhythm patterns that sounded very clever on first hearing. With more exposure, their material’s bound to be quite memorable. I’ll have to check them out again—they shamelessly ingratiated themselves by doing a Pink Floyd cover as an encore. Bastards!

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