On a re­cent Satur­day we ac­ci­den­tal­ly took in two very dif­fer­ent pop-music con­cert­s; I got one de­cent pic but end­ed the evening an­gry.

Months ago, I’d learned that All Them Witch­es were tour­ing and bought Vancouver-gig tick­et­s, be­cause I liked the ba­sic loud well-written tune­ful guitar-rock songs I’d heard on the ra­dio or YouTube or some­where. Then Lau­ren looked at the cal­en­dar and said “Hey, we’ve got Bobbi’s birth­day par­ty that night.” But it was OK be­cause the par­ty was ear­ly.

It was at the Fairview Pub, which I’ve gone by on wheels and feet a zil­lion times, once or twice even rec­og­niz­ing the name of the bar band, but nev­er in­sid­e. I as­sumed, at 4:30, it’d be beers and con­ver­sa­tion.

But I got a cou­ple of shocks when I walked in. First, there was a nine-piece horns-and-guitar soul re­vue tear­ing up Rock Steady. Se­cond, once my eyes ad­just­ed, I felt… young. Wel­l, have a look at the pic­ture.

Big City Soul

The band is Big Ci­ty Soul. Not much of a pic­ture, and un­fair be­cause it leaves out co-lead-singer Con­nie Bal­len­dine.

They’re good! And the au­di­ence is old! But, so am I.

The wait­ress told me that the white-hair set comes in for the 4:30-7:30 show; then they have a rock band lat­er, and a younger crowd.

So, the geezers on the dance floor were lay­ing down some pret­ty sharp moves, and the band was play­ing some su­per hot lick­s. Pret­ty straight-ahead R&B; I re­mem­ber Them Changes and Good Rockin’ at Mid­night. They closed with Proud Mary, which it’s hard to do any­thing new with; their ap­proach was play­ing it twice as fast as any­one, which worked OK.

Noth­ing I heard changed my life, but the band was tight and fast and beau­ti­ful­ly re­hearsed. Ex­cep­t, dur­ing a sax solo, I cracked up be­cause the break had three bars of jazz in it, which just didn’t work  —  remember that great scene in The Com­mit­ments?

In fac­t, they were a lot like the Com­mit­ments, on­ly grey­ing middle-class Cana­di­ans in­stead of snot­ty Dublin greaser­s. Al­so, the sound was pret­ty good. I left smil­ing from ear to ear.

It didn’t last. All Them Witch­es were at Vancouver’s sleazy old Cobalt Hotel, near the hero­in neigh­bor­hood. What a di­ve, ex­cept for it’s got a high­er stage than most bar venues, so you can usu­al­ly see the band.

The open­er was meh, sang out of tune and played too long. Fi­nal­ly, the Witch­es am­bled on stage and mud­dled through get­ting wired up. I guess they’re not at a lev­el where they have a road crew as such.

When they were all con­nect­ed, they start­ed play­ing  —  the first at­tempt didn’t take for some rea­son but they lurched in­to gear on the sec­ond at­temp­t.

The sound was ex­e­crable, with Charles Michael Parks Jr’s vo­cals mixed be­hind the gui­tars. The songs, in­ter­spersed with lengthy episodes of bass re-tuning, were pret­ty good when you could hear them. The dual-guitar sound oc­ca­sion­al­ly bit down super-hard and just right. But ba­si­cal­ly, they just weren’t bring­ing it.

Charles Michael Parks Jr of All Them Witches
· · ·
Charles Michael Parks Jr of All Them Witches

Looks like a rock star, though.
Shoot­ing live elec­tric mu­sic with a mod­ern cam­era is to­tal­ly a gas.

I might even buy their record­ing. But that per­for­mance was a dis­grace to an hon­or­able pro­fes­sion.

I’m not ready to start danc­ing to the safe stuff with the oth­er old peo­ple. But If you’re of­fer­ing some­thing new and fresh, you still have to come halfway and work for your mon­ey.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Ade (May 21 2017, at 13:51)

Shame, but anyone can have an off-night I guess. Their Ancienne Belgique set on Youtube is extremely tight.


From: Alex (May 22 2017, at 12:15)

"The Heroin Neighborhood"

I guess if that's how you see it, that is all it will ever be.


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights

May 20, 2017
· Arts (11 fragments)
· · Music (93 more)
· · Photos (929 more)

By .

I am an employee
of Amazon.com, but
the opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.