Last night, following Montreal’s disappointing game 5 overtime loss to Boston — which I got to experience in Kilgour’s, probably the only Montreal Canadiens fan bar in Toronto — my buddy Joe and I strolled down the block to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor at Lee’s Palace. GY!BE had been on hiatus since 2003, so when these tickets went on sale last fall we snapped them up.
We weren’t worried about staying through the entire hockey game, including one and a half overtime periods, because we knew very well they wouldn’t hit the stage until 11:30 or so. As it turns out they began taking the stage around 11:45 and began playing at about 11:50. By the way: it takes them five minutes to take the stage because there are nine of them, and they came on a few at a time and began playing their instruments. That tuning and tweaking turned into “Hope Drones” before drifting, some fifteen minutes later, into “Gathering Storm”, the best part of their best song from their best album and one of my favourite songs of all time (honorable mention). I could have left right after that and felt like I got my money’s worth.
But they kept going, obviously, playing seven more songs over the next couple of hours (their songs tend to be in the 15-20 minute range, and all instrumental, with black and white film footage looped behind them) from F#A#âˆž and Slow Riot For New Zer0 Canada and more from Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven and one more song (“Albanian”) that apparently is only ever played live. Nothing from their last album Yanqui U.X.O. though, which was disappointing…they’d played “Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls”, their second-best song, the night before.
Just after 2AM they wrapped up, and I walked out feeling a little underwhelmed. I’m glad I saw it — this may be my last chance as they’re obviously pretty mercurial — but it just didn’t feel like as big an experience as I’d hoped for. Maybe it was being at the back, kind of blocked (distracted?) by the film projectors. Maybe it was being too near the bar and all the assholes who feel entitled to yell inanities to each other that could surely wait until they’re outside. Maybe it was that my mind kept making the obvious comparison to Mogwai, who thumps me mercilessly every time I see them, unlike last night’s show.
Like I said, I’m glad I went. I guess I was just hoping for more of a storm.
The playlist, according to the internets:
- “Hope Drone”
- “Gathering Storm”
- “Chart #3”
- “World Police and Friendly Fire”
- “Dead Metheny”
- “Blaise Bailey Finnegan III”