Monday, January 03, 2011

A Difficult 2010 (Part I)

Happy new year to anyone who chanced upon this blog over the last 12 months. I wouldn’t induct 2010 into Life's Hall of Fame. It was a little too hair-raising for that, what with employment uncertainty and sudden family-related life adjustments. My music acquiring and listening habits were affected, but I learned something in the process. I’m not one of those people for whom music is a release from everyday problems. Looking at my massive collection of tunes doesn’t get me through those tough times, man. It’s not balm for my troubled soul. Enjoying music is like making rock candy. I can't get the desired results unless there’s a little seed of contentment to cling to; then the enjoyment can flourish and grow. I really need to be secure and grounded to appreciate music in my usual way. Here’s to a secure and grounded 2011.

Let’s start with a list of my top shows from 2010. The Rickshaw Theatre really came into its own as Vancouver’s metal hub last year, though I worry that its fittings are going to be battered and broken before the venue has had a chance to accumulate some real folklore and atmosphere. I don’t think I set foot in the Commodore once.

1. Katatonia/Swallow the Sun/Orphaned Land (September 22, Rickshaw Theatre)
I didn’t review this show originally because I was stumped by how exactly to communicate the majesty of Katatonia. They dominated. I just stood there the whole time thinking, “This is one of the greatest rock bands I’ve ever seen!” and “I love this song… I love this song too… Oh, man, ‘My Twin’! I love this song too!” It was like being at a Guided By Voices gig, blindsided by each entry in the set list.

2. Slough Feg/Funeral Circle (May 29, Red Room)

3. Kylesa/Baptists/Haggatha (December 2, Media Club)

4. Enslaved/Blood Red Throne (November 21, Rickshaw Theatre)

5. Cynic/Intronaut/Dysrhythmia (July 26 at The Venue)

6. Woods of Ypres (June 26, Biltmore Cabaret)

7. Mares of Thrace (August 12, Casbah Lounge, Hamilton and August 21 at the Secret Location, Vancouver)
I like going to shows when I travel. On our annual family trip to Ontario I managed to catch two: good-time Canuck thrashers Fatality at the El Mocambo and Mares of Thrace in Hamilton. The Casbah Lounge is a tiny room with a stage to match. Even though Mares are a two-piece, guitarist G. Thérèse Lanz still had to set up on the floor. The crowd was small but immensely keen (not to name drop, but Sean, Laura, Adam and Jonathan from were there, as was Chris Bruni), and MoT put on a fierce show. Afterwards, we immediately inquired where we could see them in Vancouver, and, after I assured her that I wasn't a cop, Ms. Lanz sent along details on the Secret Location. The Vancouver show was another good one, with openers Hoopsnake impressing me, and MoT delivering their angular sludge to a more crowded room. When the band got going, all I could see was GTL's pigtail whipping back and forth as she and Stefani unleashed chaos. Again, again!

8. Red Sparrowes (April 30 at The Biltmore)

9. High on Fire (February 10 at The Biltmore)
Not my favourite High on Fire experience. It was cheap (underwritten by Volcom), packed, and sweaty and I couldn't see a thing. I'll always remember this show as the first time I heard "Bastard Samurai"—one of the coolest songs of 2010 from the soon-to-be-released Snakes For the Divine.

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