All My Habits Antiquated

Wednesday night I played hooky from hockey (ugh) and hit the city for some delicious dinner and delicious rock (via Sloan) with my good friend Leo, his 19 year-old daughter Megan and her friend Mallory. His blog post today provides some of the comedy that occured pre-show. I guess I should restate that – from Leo’s perspective, the comedy part was only funny after everything turned out ok. A few years ago, it would have been funny for me all along, but with kids now, I admit to having some sympathy.

The highlights of the night can be summarized here:

  • First and foremost, conversation. Pre-show dinner used to be a way for me to fill up on solids before moving to excess liquids at the club. Oh, how things have changed. As it turned out, I enjoyed the dinner, the company and the conversation more than show. I can attribute this to my wife. Someday I’ll explain more, but in short, it’s all about the value of family, friends and relationships.
  • Having dinner with two 19-year old girls was, um, interesting. I don’t think this has happened to me since I was……19. But here’s the kicker: my faith in humanity was elevated a little bit when the topic of homophobes came up and both 19 year-olds couldn’t fathom why it was any big deal whether one was gay or straight. Now, I am not so naive to think that all 19 year-olds subscribe to this notion, but it was still enlightening and I do believe our emerging generations are getting further and further away from hatred and racism (example here from a post I wrote in 2004).
  • That said, Leo (who is in his forties) and myself, at 37, certainly felt odd dining with two youngsters like that (he probably felt a little less odd than I, given one of them was his daughter). I had to remark that people were probably thinking we were a couple of dirty old men. Or they thought we had hired escorts, to which Megan, Leo’s daughter, replied “great, you just called us high-class hookers.”
  • Greek beer. I forget the name. But the highlight here is that it wasn’t a highlight.
  • Oh, the show was good! I found myself wishing that the setlist was a little more spread out across more of their excellent catalog, but they’re still fun and they’re still so obnoxiously talented that it makes me sad they can’t seem to crack the nut in America.  Still, nothing from “Action Pact?”
  • Show highlight: Sloan pulling two people from the audience to sing lead during the encore. One of them was horrible, and the band knew it and stopped the song halfway through, but the other guy nailed “I Can Feel It.” Very enjoyable.

Everybody Will Rock & Everybody Will Roll, Yeah

Best Band Of The Last 10 Years?

Is this the best band of the last 10 years? Maybe. 15 years? Perhaps. Sloan released “Parallel Play” this week and I managed to grab my first couple of listens yesterday. As usual, it’s at least a triple or an inside-the-park home run.  It must be an awesome problem to have for a band when you have four excellent songwriters, four excellent singers and four excellent musicians in the same band. Because that is the problem Sloan has.

Exhibit A: “Believe in Me,” from the new album. With keys played by the guitar’s players dad. Just listen to that opening riff and when it kicks in. I mean, really.

[audio:believe.mp3]

I would feel comfortable betting dinner that I can find a Sloan song that everyone I know would like. Even my parents. Even your parents. I mean, really. It’s getting obnoxious now.

A couple of years ago, I posted on a music discussion board that Sloan were better than Cheap Trick. And I got flamed for it by many people. I’d love to have this discussion now with those folks, or anyone, given that Sloan has released three superb albums since my statement and one half-superb album (“Pretty Together” FYI).

And live? Heh. Don’t even go there. Probably one of the best live shows you’ll ever see. So yeah, I’m excited about the new album and taking in their show this Wednesday night with good buddy Leo. No earplugs allowed.

Who Taught You To Live Like That?

Sloan is fast becoming one of my favorite bands of all time. It seems no matter what, when, where and how they do it, they do it right and they leave a trail of ass-kicked fans gushing over their live show, which is second-to-none. Their last record took some time to grow on me and now here I am, thinking it might be their best yet. Really. With each album, they seem to get better. So rare these days.

In trying to define Sloan, I could type for hours but it wouldn’t do it justice. So I’ll do it through video. “Flying High Again” (from their latest) isn’t their best song ever and their energy in this video isn’t even 10% of what they’re like live, but it’s a great little minute-and-a-half ditty that showcases what I like so much about them – four singers and four songwriters who all take a turn during this one little song. Check it:



Now, take a look at this little mini-infomercial, where you get a good sense of the light-hearted personality of the band and a better sense of their talent – they all play each other’s instruments, too – when you see them live, at least once or twice during the show it’s like a Chinese fire drill when everyone drops their instruments and switches it up. Anyway, this video is a great microcosm for the group:




…..and finally, here’s the first Sloan song I ever heard, called “Losing California.” What a way to get introduced to the band!