Archive for August, 2010

I Walked – Sufjan Stevens

August 27, 2010

Quick to get the hype machine started for the October release of The Age of Adz — Sufjan’s first full-length release in half a deck — he has kindly leaked a track for us. It’s called “I Walked” and I gotta say I’m loving the mix of electronic and organic production going on. I’ll be seeing his show in Toronto at Massey Hall in the fall, and this new song has got me pumped already. Have a listen below. Peace.

Peeping Tom, Stalking Stew

August 25, 2010

Once upon a time, my best friend Dave was friends with a really hot girl on Facebook. And one day while visiting Dave’s wall, I happened to notice a thumbnail image of this really hot girl. So I clicked on it. This lead me to her own personal page, which she had left wide open to the virtual world. Her name was Amy. She had long brown hair and blue eyes. I clicked on her photos and scanned through every one of them. I watched two years of her life flash by in grainy mobile uploads and over-exposed digital. I saw her at school in a dorm wearing sweats and a baseball hat. I saw her all stumbly on Bloor Street after having one too many at The Dance Cave. I saw her outside of Union Station in a big winter parka. I met her parents and her dog Barkley, and was given a tour of her childhood home from her Christmas trip to Saint John in 2008. I met her ex-boyfriend Brian. Saw them on a camping trip in Fundy National Park, saw them embracing in Times Square in the summer of 2009, I even saw them under the covers in bed. I was able to gather from her “likes” that she was a fan of graphic novels like “Tales from the Farm” and “The Walking Dead”. Her favourite TV show was “Battlestar Galactica” and she loved Sufjan Stevens. I knew her favourite coffee shop was Ezra’s Pound on Dupont. And I knew she had spent last weekend at the Arcade Fire show on Olympic Island. In just about every photo, Amy had a big toothy smile, which seemed to me to reveal a genuine happiness that I could easily idealize.

Not three days later: turning around from the cash register at the bar I work at, there she was. Wearing the same green blouse I had admired so much in one of her recent photos. She smiled and asked for a gin and tonic. Her voice was gentle, yet dry, dusty. Like she’d just had three smokes. I blushed. Made her drink. Lemon instead of lime. I glanced at Amy’s face, wanting to see that grin again, the one from her photos, where she was all teeth and gums, and full of a brightness that I believed could illuminate even my worst thoughts. She tipped me 50 cents. “I uh, like your top,” I said, my face flushing crimson as she said thanks and turned away from the bar. I watched her join her girlfriend at a table by the front window, and felt like a peeping, perving Tom. A sleazy, stalking Stew. Because I knew this woman. This lovely Amy from Saint John. Or at least felt like I did. And she didn’t have a goddamn clue. All because I clicked on a tiny thumbnail image of her and then followed a series of clicks and links that were openly, publicly available to me on the world wide web. And although I was convinced that she could love me, there was nothing I could say to her in real life.

Thanks Facebook. You’ve become wikipedia for people I don’t know. Visual fodder for a laptop dream. Shame on us all.

POLVO at Lee’s Palace in Toronto

August 14, 2010

13 August 2010

Post rock legends, POLVO, played a tight set at Lee’s Palace on Friday night in Toronto, giving aging fanboys one last chance to get their rocks off to the twisted tunings and weirdo time signatures that made Polvo revered and adored in the mid-nineties. Polvo called it quits in 1998 after the release of their sixth album Shapes, but returned last year with the excellent In Prism, and luckily Toronto was one of the stops on their brief summer tour with Versus.

On paper this line-up is my high school wet dream: Polvo and Versus playing together! It seemed too good to be true . . . and in the end, it was. Versus’ drummer, Ed Baluyut, was a no-show because his wife had a baby, so the drummer for opening band Soft Copy filled in. Under the circumstances, he did a great job, but was obviously hesitant. They managed to play hits “Blade of Grass”, “River” and “Be-9” from The Stars are Insane, which ended up sounding pretty good, but overall it just wasn’t how I imagined it.

Polvo hit the stage next and were amazingly tight. Ridiculously tight. Hard to explain how good they were. They opened with an extended version of “Fast Canoe” that varied from the original but sounded fantastic. They debuted a new song, and played “The Pedlar”, “Right the Relation” and “Beggars Bowl” off of In Prism, “Thermal Treasure”, “Lazy Comet”, and “My Kimono” from Today’s Active Lifestyles, “Bombs that Fall from your Eyes” from This Eclipse, “Feather of Forgiveness” from Exploded Drawing, “Enemy Insects” from Shapes and other hits. In short, it was a great show. You really couldn’t complain.

But overall it made me feel strange. As if I shouldn’t be allowed to see Polvo again after all these years. They are a memory and should stay that way. All these reunion shows over the last few years have us churning up nostalgia in massive quantities, watching older versions of the heroes of our youth trying to relive the days of their youth — and even though it’s wonderful to be able to see your favourite band again, it’s just never quite the same.

Ian Cohen’s review on Pitchfork of The Suburbs by Arcade Fire says that the main focus of their new album is on the “quiet desperation borne of compounding the pain of wasting your time as an adult by romanticizing the wasted time of your youth.” There is something very profound in this quote that resonates with me, and my experience of seeing a decade older Polvo blast out the hits made me think of this. You see, I’m a sucker for nostalgia, a goddamn sap, I love to stir up old feelings that I can’t quite comprehend anymore, love to secretly get weepy over times gone by — but now as I’m figuring out how to step confidently into my early thirties, I feel it’s time to leave this old stuff behind, it’s time only for constant steps forward and further and onward.

Sure, it’s nice to go back every now and again, but that was it for me. The clincher. Seeing Polvo and Versus was the culmination of the very end of my youth. There. It is done. I am a motherfucking adult. Finally.

Thank you Polvo and Versus for helping me affirm this once and for all.