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.