this is a riot, right?
let’s all riot, riot,
let’s tear this place to shit,
commit pact suicide.
these were words of inspiration …and you will know us by the trail of dead send us along into the night with. useless words, really, since they’d already done most of it themselves. i’d listened to the new cd source tags + codes countless times in the 10 or 11 days since it arrived in the mail. i’d seen them before. i’d been to lots of shows in general. i knew what to expect.
jason reece disappeared. much of the crowd was hit with water. jason and conrad keely got into a wrestling match. danko jones tried to push us out of the way (’cause he’s really short). but i’ll start at the beginning.
we got there just as raising the fawn was finishing up. i was a bit perplexed; during the final song the singer began singing, “young hearts…be free…tonight”, a rod stewart lyric that the constantines use in one of their songs, and they opened for trail of dead last time they played here. don’t know if there’s a connection there. anyhoo…
explosions in the sky was up next. they were good enough the first time i saw them (also opening for trail of dead last time they were in town) that i bought the cd and loved it. long instrumental quiet-loud songs, like mogwai with a simpler song structure. they opened with a song that i didn’t recognize, but it kicked my ass. let’s hear it for foreshadowing. they then ran through a few songs from those who tell the truth shall die…, closing with another crusher during which the tall among us could see the bass player kneeling over his bass and bashing it with a tambourine. that was about as much emotion as they showed all night, but they’re just about pushing the music off the stage and onto the crowd, letting them put it on and try it out. the word i always think of with their music is “lush”. always. it punched up a notch or two, though; at one point i could see neil busch (i think) stick his head through the curtain and rock along. also, it was during their set that i noticed danko jones standing next to us. the man is fucking short. he was trying to see over the crowd; he left partway through the set…i think he was looking for a chair to stand on.
trail of dead came on right after i saw (i think) hawksley workman on his way into the calcutta of a washroom, around 12:15. first of all, i’d just like to point out that they opened with “it was there that i saw you”, just as i predicted. thank you, thank you. next, just to get the technical stuff out of the way, the sound was better than at the horseshoe (clearer mix of the instruments, and you could actually hear the vocals), and it wasn’t as mercilessly loud, but they were having a lot of problems with feedback and broken strings. this frustrated them. which, i think, worked out in the long run really.
the set list…they ran through four songs from madonna (the obvious ones…”mark david chapman”, “mistakes and regrets”, “aged dolls” and, of course, “a perfect teenhood”), one from the first self-titled cd (“gargoyle waiting”), but only three from the new one: “it was there that i saw you”, as i mentioned, “baudelaire” and “homage”. they might have played “another morning stoner”, i can’t remember. it was near the end, as they pummeled us with “aged dolls” that you could really see them letting us have it. much, much moreso than back in the fall at the ‘shoe. they were pretty reserved then, just punishingly loud. this time they were playing to get it into the end zone, not just tackle us solidly. we held on.
early into “aged dolls”, jason reece — conrad keely had switched to the drums again for this one; as good as he is out front with the guitar and vocals, the guy is an even better drummer — got fed up with his guitar and just tossed it onto the stage. this wasn’t the first time; he done it during “gargoyle waiting” or “homage” as well. he’d gone on a little walkabout too…up onto the speakers (during which he started shaking and leaning on one of the stacks that hangs from the ceiling and, well, had it fallen it would’ve taken some patrons through the floor with it) and precariously along one of the railings. he finally managed to make it back onto the stage in one angry little piece. this time, though, he went straight into the crowd screaming, “i am…a motherfucking god!”. we lost sight of him (he’s only marginally taller than danko jones), but he made it all the way to the back of the pit before returning to the stage. he crawled up to the drum kit and took conrad’s place. “a perfect teenhood” came at us.
now, they usually close their shows with ‘teenhood’. not tonight. it fucking killed us, it did. conrad really let it fly, jumping onto the crowd at the end screaming the “fuck you! fuck you! fuck you!” that ends the song, and the crowd was thrashing around at the foot of the stage in a way i haven’t seen since grunge. everyone was expecting the guitars to drop, the lights to come up. they didn’t. we were expecting to be sent home with a scolding. instead we got another whipping. jason and conrad began flinging bottles of water — some open, some not — into the crowd. they announced their final song: “richter scale madness”. madness indeed. they played the song in such a way to make it almost unrecognizable; conrad spent most of the song dropping the mike or taking mouthfuls of beer and spitting it onto the front rows, using the bottle for a slide. the only verse i made out was the one seen above; fitting, really, since this preceded the four nice boys of …and you will know us by the trail of dead demolishing the stage in the manner to which we who read their press have become accustomed. the bass went sailing into the far corner by the fire exit; jason tore the drum kit apart and threw it around the stage. conrad keely just let his guitar fall off, eyed it like a bullet that had been removed from him. kevin allen didn’t do any damage but, then again, he’s the john entwhistle, the john-paul-jones-with-two-extra-strings of the band. jason came to the microphone and apologized for “sucking”, for which conrad keely tackled him and a wrestling match ensued. neil busch thanked us from the bomb crater of the stage and told us they’d be back in a few months.
i may as well make it official now: this is the best rock n’ roll band the world has to offer.
i’ll be there.
this is a riot, right?