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Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Wheel’

Ignored 153: Lee’s of long ago

In Graphic on August 10, 2017 at 12:40 am

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Ignored 38: Same songs, new price

In Uncategorized on July 17, 2014 at 4:15 pm

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UK shoegaze outfit Slowdive play Toronto this fall. They last played our city 20 years ago and tickets this time around have increased in price by 168 per cent ($11 in 1994, $29.50 in 2014).

That’s perfectly fine and expected. Because in pure economic terms, nostalgia comes at a high price.

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Whether your vice is music, sports memorabilia, out-of-print literature or visiting Europe (or whatever “the old country” means to you), people will pay a significant premium to purchase something NOW that makes them feel a tinge of something from THEN.

Still, some jerks music fans like to get all uppity when a band like Slowdive reunites and their ticket prices skyrocket. The thing is, when you think of it in terms of simple supply and demand, why wouldn’t these prices spike?!? In 1994, the audience for Slowdive was mop-haired guys and girls who didn’t talk much plus assorted wannabe Anglophiles. In 2014, the audience is two additional decades worth of that type of music fan…. plus the entire original audience itself (except for those who died or moved to Courtice in the years since).

Demand goes up. Supply stays, more or less, the same. Do the math!

For more information and to learn more theories, go here. It’s a great place.

Getting back to Slowdive, a lot of notable bands have reunited in the last decade. However, even when compared to many of their contemporaries, returning after a 20 year absence is pretty rare. It begs the question: does staying away longer help pad your bottom line in terms of ticket prices?

(pause)

To help answer this question, I took a cross section of 18 of these notable bands who have returned to Toronto in the last decade after some sort of hiatus. I compared ticket prices for the “farewell” and “hello again” gigs and in an attempt to keep this apples-to-apples, I only included headline shows. This latter piece gets kinda dicey when we speak in terms of demand (i.e. the Constantines’ headline “reunion” show in Toronto this fall will technically be the third time they’ve played in the city since reuniting) but more on that later…

Also, none of the prices reflect services charges, venue fees or anything of that nature. Because people tend to hate taking about services charges, venue fees or anything of that nature.

Here is a list of the 18 bands in question, sorted by the year they returned to Toronto and also showing their last Toronto show before they disappeared for a while:

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Now, the first graph below shows who had the longest gap between Toronto headline shows. The second graph shows who had the largest spike in ticket prices, expressed in terms of price percentage increase.

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If there was a decent correlation between length of absence and increase in ticket price, these graphs should look somewhat similar shape-wise.

They don’t. At all.

Therefore, based on this (admittedly small) sample size, there is no real correlation between how long you’ve been away and how much you can jack up your prices.

Since the length of the hiatus, in and of itself, isn’t significant in boosting ticket prices across the board, here are a few less scientific factors that are:

Taste: I mean, this is 90 per cent of the equation with any art, right? A few of these bands (especially My Bloody Valentine, the Pixies and Neutral Milk Hotel) became almost mythical during the 2000s due to the proliferations of blogs and YouTube and MP3s. Thus, when they started popping up on the touring circuit again, their fan bases has swollen to kind of insane proportions. Well, maybe not INSANE since MBV was originally booked to play the Ricoh Coliseum in 2008 (which would’ve been “whack”) before being downsized to the Kool Haus. But still. NOTE: the Ricoh Coliseum website is still erroneously listing the concert. They so crazy!

Venue: When Jesse Keeler posted this note on a Death From Above 1979 forum back in 2006 in order to napalm his band, it meant that the duo’s last headline show in Toronto was a series of insanely loud gigs at the cozy Horseshoe Tavern the summer prior. Based on their popularity at the time, it easily could’ve been a room 5x as big. But in the end, it was happenstance. Either way, $15 for a DFA1979 gig in 2005 was a “bargoon“.

Non-Headline Gigs: The Constantines played their first 2014 reunion show in nearby Guelph, rocked at Broken Social Scene’s Field Trip festival shortly thereafter and will be opening for the Arcade Fire at the Molson Amphitheatre around Labour Day. Their first “proper” Toronto headline show isn’t until October but given their “around-ness” prior, did THAT affect ticket price for their Danforth Music Hall gig? Who cares… it’s just good to have ’em back!

Opening Acts: I’ve always had a soft spot for the macho riffing and self-aware posturing of Urge Overkill. However, their 1995 “bye bye” gig at The Phoenix also featured the Toronto debut (I think) of the equally-awesome Guided by Voices and the pre-Sweet Homewrecker hijinks of Thrush Hermit. A stacked triple bill and considering GBV were getting a ton of buzz at that time, I bet much of the audience were paying to see Robert Pollard and friends stumble around. Unfortunately, Bob got beat up.

Willingness to Tour… Ever: Most people just assumed that Jeff Mangum would never tour Neutral Milk Hotel so the fact that their ticket prices dominate the second graph is a bit of an outlier. Even by 1998 standards, $7 for any show is massively low. Also worth noting: fact Mangum did a pair of solo acoustic sets in Toronto in 2011, which may have eased demand a touch.

A few other comments:

– Everybody kinda rags on the Pixies for their never-ending reunion tour and the fact that it took them a decade to release anything new (and that was only after they gave Kim Deal the boot). However, considering how unlikely that reunion was (see “the fax story”) you think they could’ve charged more than $35 for their first Toronto show back in 2004. In many ways, they ushered in the initial wave of reunions fuelled by 1990s nostalgia (and cash… lots of it). If they had decided to suck it in 2008 instead of the hinterlands of 2004, I betcha tickets would’ve easily run $60 or more. Even at the brutal Arrow Hall, which mercifully is no longer with us as a concert venue.

– The Jesus and Mary Chain were a good band. Not amazing but solid enough. But seriously, $60+ for their 2012 show? Unlikely My Bloody Valentine, Neutral Milk Hotel or Daft Punk, the Jesus and Mary Chain had played Toronto plenty in the past so it’s not like their originally fan base didn’t have ample opportunity to see ’em in the first time around. Heck, they brought along Curve, Spiritualized and (uh) Pure to play the (friggin’) SkyDome in 1992, which is was kind of a WTF at the time and is now a massive WTF in hindsight. That concert was $12.45 BTW. Good deal!!

– Speculative: if Morrissey decides to drop the seal hunt thing and play in Canada again, would tickets START at more than $100 a piece? I think so.

– My picks for the next wave of bands that we MIGHT see playing shows again within the next five years: Oasis, the Deadly Snakes (this show notwithstanding), Galaxie 500, Gene (would we care?!?), the Kinks (would they care?!?), Eric’s Trip (again), Siouxsie and the Banshees (again), Catherine Wheel (are they even broken up?!?), Local Rabbits, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Supergrass, the White Stripes

Ignored 29: An education

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

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As a lifelong music fan, there will be times when you remember things wrong, assume an artist is something they’re not and have various WTF memories and misappropriations seep into your consciousness. The Internet and various reference manuals can help clear up these mistakes while others will follow you to the grave. It’s fun!

Here is a small sampling of musical misunderstandings I’ve had over the years. Obviously since I’m now writing about them on a WordPress blog, I’ve cleared up the details.

The video was Men without Hats “The Safety Dance” wasn’t an actual song but rather, a TV show for kids or maybe a TV commercial. This was 1984.

The video for M+M’s “Black Stations White Stations” wasn’t an actual song. Rather, it was a bumper for Citytv. In the spirit of Mark Daily’s “Citytv: Everywhere” contributions. Again, this was 1984.

The Fat Boys was a TV show and not a band.

Lou Gramm and Lou Reed were the same guy.

Strange Advance and the Escape Club were the same band. Confusion rooted in the former’s “Love Becomes Electric” and the latter’s “Wild Wild West”. Note: these songs sound nothing alike.

The Who and the Guess Who were the same band.

The Band were fictitious. No one where this came from. I think maybe I was vaguely aware of The Last Waltz and thought these were actors playing a band. Potential crossed wires when I became aware of other real fake bands like Spinal Tap and The Commitments.

Jeff Lynne from the Traveling Wilburys was not a real musician but actually somebody famous (not sure who… maybe an actor?) wearing a disguise.

Jane’s Addiction were Canadian and later, I’d confuse them with the Leslie Spit Treeo. The former’s “Been Caught Stealing” and the latter’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” were both in rotation on 680 CFTR at the time. I think the opening of “Been…” with the dogs barking threw me somehow.

Spandau Ballet and Roxy Music were the same band.

Ice-T changed his name slightly and became Ice Cube.

Rumble was British. Aside: was there a more random one-hit wonder from this era? Some Jamaican guy from Toronto rapping over a Massive Attack song and hitting the Top 40.

James was a guy and then upon learning James was a band, assuming they were a heavy metal band. Later, I thought the song “Laid” was a Spirit of the West song. I was so confused.

Primus was a heavy metal band. Fair assumption since most people who liked Primus in 1993 were also into Metallica et all.

Pavement were a heavy metal band. The name just sounds heavy. There’s a scene in Pavement’s Slow Century DVD where Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore cops to making the same assumption. Also, I thought their drummer Steve West was the singer for the longest time.

Dinosaur Jr were from the UK. Reason: their 1994 release Without a Sound came out on the UK-based imprint Blanco y Negro which I naively assumed meant they must be British too.

Sloan were from Boston.

The Cranberries were from Canada.

Catherine Wheel was a lady. I’m assuming more than half of 102.1 listeners of the 1990s also made this assumption?

Molly Hatchet was a lady.

Bettie Serveert was a lady.

PJ Harvey was a dude.

Pop Will Eat Itself were German. This was based purely on their 1994 single “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”. Once I learned they were British, I tried to share this knowledge with anyone who cared (estimate: 3-4 people, tops) and always got massive push back from people who insisted they were German, namely because of this song and also, their hair. Pre-Internet, these debates raged for months.

Tha Dogg Pound were a band that contained Snoop Dogg Dogg, Nate Dogg and friends. 95 per cent certain that Suge Knight hoped that the record buying public would make the same assumption. They did briefly.

 

Sugar’s Beaster EP was actually an EP by the Beastie Boys. Beaster was one of those CDs you’d always see in vast quantities at used CD shops and whenever I’d catch a glance at this disc, I kinda just assumed it was a Beastie Boys’ release with some alternate spelling. In part, I think there was some confusion with the Beasties’ Some Old Bullshit EP that came out around the same time. Aside: has their even been a band with worse cover art than Sugar?

Buffalo Tom and Grant Lee Buffalo were the same band.

Tristan Psionic and SIANspheric were the same band.

Paul Weller and Paul Westerberg was the same dude.

 

The dude L.V. who sang the chorus of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was Luther Vandross. Not sure if I really believed this or just WANTED to believe it. It would’ve been a really unlikely transformation and pretty funny that Vandross could up his cred by reducing his stage to sinister…. initials!!! Also kinda funny: the real L.V. stood for “large variety”.

Big Star influenced the Beatles. My roommate in first-year university told me this and I just went with this. Obviously, this timing makes no sense since the Beatles were toast by the time Big Star even formed.

Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” was actually sung by David Bowie. Obviously some confusion RE: Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and no doubt, Schilling was hoping to profit from the confusion. Note: the voice on “Major Tom” sounded nothing like David Bowie.

Yo La Tengo and Pizzicato Five were the same band.

The Birthday Party and the Wedding Present were the same band. This was fueled by the same gaff made in Alan Cross’ first book The Alternative Music Almanac where they mislabeled a shot of the Wedding Present playing at Lee’s Palace as the Birthday. The horror!

Death Cab for Cutie were heavy.

Crystal Castles were from either Europe or Chicago.

Wolf Eyes and Japanther were the same band and both from Toronto. Neither/nor.

Deerhunter and Deerhoof were the same band. Also, Deerhunter were heavy.

Big K.R.I.T. was British. He laid down some rhymes over an Adele track, after-all.

Mac Miller and Mac DeMarco were the same dude.

Ignored 12: 1,200+ words about SIANspheric

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2013 at 12:24 am

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Bold statement: SIANspheric is/was awesome, need a larger web presence and everything else.

SIANspheric is one of those bands that continues to have a small but severe reverence close to 20 years in. Which is amazing considering the band was, at its peak, ‘obscure’ at best. If you are aware of SIANspheric, chances are you like or love SIANspheric. It’s a high percentage proposition to be certain.

Born of the sleepy bedroom community (terrible expression BTW) of Burlington, Ontario, the outfit arrived slightly late to the first wave ‘shoegaze’ thing but ultimately, kinda slayed 90 per cent plus of the outfits in that scene. They specialized in a moody nuance that was both bleak and beautiful and while their cues were obvious given the era, they were one of the few North American shoegaze bands to break. Relatively speaking in terms of style and stature.

SIANspheric sits in a bit of black hole digitally in so far as they emerged just before the Internet became “The Internet!!” As a result, there isn’t a ton of content about SIANspheric online in spite of the fact they toured Canada multiple times, had CDs that were popular in certain circles and were a pseudo-flagship band of one of Canada’s top indie labels of the 1990s, Sonic Unyon.

Case in point: you Google them in 2013 and early on, you’re directly to such binary afterthoughts as their order page at Indigo.com. Related: lame shipping terms!

The first two SIANspheric albums (1995’s Sominum and 1997’s There’s Always Someplace You’d Rather Be) are (really) fantastic and everything else in their discography is good to very good/great. The music is  nice and watery, and seemingly effortless. While the band ultimately got a bit more dubby in later releases, part of the charm of Sominum especially is breaks in tunes like “Watch Me Fall”. The band kinda sorta abandons the shoegaze/space rock/dream pop thing for a stretch and more or less, reverts to a relatable suburban indie band. In the process, they momentarily sound like any outfit on the Squirtgun Records roster. Then, they fog over on the next track and go back to doing it better than Slowdive et all.

For a handful of 30-somethings in the GTA, the effect is powerfully carnal. It’s a weird balance of sounding completely familiar and comfortable on the one hand and totally austere and distant on the other. And this was a band you could catch with some regularly on small stages. A complete anomaly of the era.

There isn’t a strong narrative to this feature since it’s largely an exercise in giving SIANspheric a bit of an SEO jolt. Accordingly, here is a collection of three additional observations about SIANspheric.

Feel free to read out-of-order as it won’t matter to the non-existent arc.

1. I ‘m going to suggest than Tristan Psionic and SIANspheric were the two Canadian indie bands of the 1990s most often mistaken for each other, purely based on their name, pedigree and geography. As awesome as they were/are, SIANspheric’s branding was a bit troubling. Sianspheric, SIANspheric, SIAN spheric, Tristan Psionic… through no fault of their own (aside from the fact they named the band), the name seemed to throw some people in terms of the correct spelling and proper capitalization. That being said, there were other Canadian bands of the era (namely, Treble charger/treble charger and Rusty/rusty) who seemed to inspire like-minded confusion vis a vis capitalization and whatnot. In summary, I guarantee I’m the only living person in 2013 who is still giving these matters any thought whatsoever.

2. In hindsight, it is notable that there really weren’t any truuuuuuuue North American-born “superstars” of the original shoegaze movement. That’s to say, no North American bands achieved the widespread notoriety of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Curve, Catherine Wheel et all. One could argue that outfits like Galaxie 500 and the Smashing Pumpkins took major cues from these fellas and gals. But seriously, it’s not the same thing at all. DC-based weirdos Lilys were probably the highest tally on the North American/popular/shoegaze-y Venn diagram, especially whilst in the throws of their foggy 1994’s “mind eff” Eccsame the Photon Band. Even still, the band quickly packed up the phaser and went on a heavy 1960s power pop riff as the late decade fizzled out.

3. The shows SIANspheric did with Mystery Machine about a year ago are potentially on my Top 10 concert misses list. Twin underappreciated greatness.

For more information on SIANspheric, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SIANspheric

Aside: Getting back to this “North Americans don’t/can’t shoegaze” notion, could this be 80 per cent a cultural thing and 20 per cent a marketing thing? Here is the breakdown…

80 per cent cultural – To be a shoegaze band by perception, you need to be withdrawn in a way that is specific to the UK: A cornerstone of the shoegaze persona is shyness. And we’re not talking about your standard, garden-variety shyness here. This is next level. Clinical. Dudes like Kevin Shields and the younger version of Neil Halstead seemed completely withdrawn in a way that was entirely foreign to these eyes: vastly destroyed emotionally but also sarcastically hilarious with great hair and cool pants/shoes. It’s more perception than anything as there appeared to be something inherently European (and by European, I mean British or Irish in these instances) in the way these people stood on stage, spoke in interviews and composed their music. Their personalities were entirely oblique (and essentially, glossed over) and their music was awesome in the way in seemed four, five or six degrees removed from anything that resembled “presentation” in the traditional sense. I suppose that was the appeal. Stateside, Sonic Youth could loop their effects pedals ad naseum, pierce ear drums and through it all, there’d still be a carnal sense of familiarity within the chaos since you knew Thurston Moore grew up in Connecticut and chances are, his cultural touchstones were probably not disimmilar to yours. This goes ten-fold for SIANspheric (for me, anyway) since they were literally a short drive away and yet were creating this powerful, impactful music that certainly didn’t sound like the Burlington I knew (not that I knew it at all beyond signs off the QEW and a single visit to Martin Streek‘s club night on Plains Road East). Again, to reiterate my early statement, SIANspheric are probably the one band I have ever listened to that (A) sounded completely familiar and comfortable on the one hand and (B) totally austere and distant on the other. They broke through the exoticism that is essentially required to “shoegaze” proper and ended up on an island (a noisy, ponderous island) in the process. Good job!

20 per cent marketing – All shoegaze album artwork and liner notes must be abstract and hard to interpret/read: A shoegaze album requires blurry artwork. No exceptions! The 4AD label was the touchstone for this approach as everything they ever put out appeared 25 per cent more “arty” than it was because of their dramatic cover art aesthetic. Case in point: I’d argue that the Breeders would be remembered completely differently if the album art on Pod and Last Splash was more (ahem) provincial to where the ladies and that drummer came from (yes, Wiggs was British.. shut up). Kim Deal is beyond awesome but at the end of the day, she is effectively a gregarious “salt of the earth” type from Dayton who just happens to have a compellingly strange sense of rhythm. Yeah, bit of a cheapshot at Dayton but essentially true. Also, it’s a fine line between “arty”/cool and “arty”/garbage when it comes to album art. Ergo, while the artwork on Sominum is not bad per se given the era, it kinda of looks like software packaging moreso than music in retrospect.