Monday, January 3, 2011

show review & photos - december 31st apartment show

"RETROGRADE" - byron.

"so, one of the planets was in retrograde, or something," cud tells me, while we wait for our fries. "and thats why everything's been so messed up this year. thats why communication isnt working out, thats why people are so depressed, or killing themselves or whatever. but its all supposed to change, tonight."
i look at him, through him and i dont know what to think. planets have no relevence on my life, its improbable, but tonight, after today, after this past week, month, year, i'll hope on anything to change the way things are going.
cud, dylan and i walk back up to cuds borrowed room in the upstairs apartment. we talk about "the Retrograde" for a little bit more and slowly the conversations change into university and colleges everyone went to. im not into that so much, so i wash my cocksauce/mayo dish and go back downstairs to see how things are coming along.

its new years eve, 2010. a celebration of the end of one of the hardest years ive known, and according to a lot of other folks the hardest they've known too. we have a lot to be rid of and hopefully, a lot to look forward to. i just moved to halifax and im hoping tonights show will be a nice way to see old friends again, and to listen to some of the bands other folks are working on with their friends.

slowly people start coming by, and i realize, though not a very big crowd at all, i still dont know many people in the room. i see steve and kelly and sonny carrying in equipment and realize that the rumblestrips are setting up their stuff. i sit down real close to the front with my back against the wall and a small table to lean against while i sit waiting for things to start. i'd heard and seen one of steves older bands "two kids running away" play in town last year, but he has since moved here to halifax and started other projects, this being one of them. i was also excited to see kelly play. i'd heard her cd, and hung out with her a little in montreal before, but never gotten the chance to hear her play live. i was always amazed by the split she put out with starla! and i just couldnt believe that this kinda soft spoken (if she spoke at all) person could put out an amazing bunch of songs with so much poetry and passion behind them. i was excited to see her play. and sonny too! sonny had just returned from ontario where i saw her when she came with todi to the last couple shows of a failed tour. it was fun to see her again. she'd been in the van for another tour that happened earlier last year as well. and tonight, she was playing with her band. i had also never seen her play before and i hadnt heard any recordings either. in fact it wasnt until i saw her photo on someones blog sitting in front of a keyboard did i know she ever really played music. there is so much hidden in the lives of the people we know and we can slowly find out more just by listening quietly in a room full of people as they sing their songs, sharing intimate thoughts and notions from somewhere deep inside them. and the rumblestrips, kelly, steve and sonny, were wonderful. soft and quiet, lulling even, and thick with melodies and harmonies brought out by the keys, guitar and uke. i remember smiling a little like a goof, forgetting for a time about the past year and all its calamity. just being there, with my friends on any night in any city feeling inspired and moved by their stories and songs.

"hey folks, i just want to thank everyone for coming out and spending new years with us here." ryley was leaning over the cuttaway bar from her kitchen speaking to us all and letting us know that we should be back from cigarettes, or the bathroom in 10 to see cud play. ryley and her housemates organized the show for everyone tonight and she seemed to be running around the apartment a little frazzled, but making the time to say hello and greet people as they came in. and more came in. slowly as folks smoked out front, the late comers made their ways up the stairs and took in the bubbling energy of the crowd about them.
"do you want to go last?" ryley asked me.
"we went last last year and right at midnight we were in the middle of this breakdown when rosies dad pointed to his watch and started the countdown. everyone counted down and cheered and then we broke back into the song. it was awesome."
i didnt want to go last, and it seemed like no one wanted to go last. luckily ryley and rosie took the fall and they decided they would do it, saving the day, heroes to us all.

i went back to sitting down in the living room, but this time over on the couch beside a friend to see how her day had been. cud was in the front sitting down on a chair just picking up his banjo as everyone was coming back into the living room and sitting on the carpet awaiting his set.
"so this is ... a new one... im ...pretty stoked on it.." and with that he broke away. never mind the crowd in front, but instead enabling his hands and voice to be possessed entirely by his heart, cud opened up and sang it out. his head swung low sometimes, and i could make out small mutterings, full of ache and most definitely coming from a fresh wound some place deep inside. the trill and quiver in his words echoing what couldve been doubt or fear, or maybe the heart pounding too hard and shaking his vocal cords. it was beautiful and real, free of self consciousness and allowing us all

it was good to hear this now. good to  remember the shit of last year which had compressed and hardened, especially so this past month, with the days darker and colder still. but tonight, through words and feeling, it was melting a little, here in the warmth of a few dozen folks sitting around together keeping the out cold and the encouraging the embers in us all to brighten a little against the winter dark outside.
"lockpick kit!", "microwave safe!", folks started calling out requests for cud to play, and some of those in the front just quietly asked, "play the one we can sing with, with the best melody on earth."
cud then led a singalong at the end of his set, playing a song from his new album, fivers warning, and everyone sang together,
"and im sick and tired of the bottom of the barrel while the scum floats up on top, and soaks up all the sunshine from gettin' to me. and i wont never ever give an inch to them, never gonna give up or give in to them."

"whats orange and sounds like a carrot? oh.. i fucked up." so says dylan taylor, the english teacher. he was wearing his pei dirt shirt that he picked up from a goodwill somewhere other than pei.
"we could be the generation who finally gives up on humanity", he sang. i wonder what this would be like? i wonder where dylan was coming from? i imagine him singing this to his students in some northern quebec town, walking around, encouraging his students, being kind and encouraging their wonder and being joyful as he is.

"do you know any pink floyd songs?"
"do i look like i do?"
oh, we love you and your command of the english language mr. taylor. will you bring your guitar to class again tomorrow? his songs are so different then i remembered them, with so many layers and so much depth from when i first listened to his music.
"what do you want, tape or cd?"
he runs away into the other room and comes back in with a tape from bum tickens, his band.
"thanks, dylan."

it felt awkward and a little isolating to be up there, revealed and revealing, to folks who knew what i was singing about, and to many more who might be able to sympathize. it was scary. some of the newest songs, attempts at pop-punk songs, i messed up the lyrics, stopped in the middle to check out the words, and tried again.
ryley yelled out requests from the back and i turned them down. i actually felt more disconnected to everyone in that moment of performance than i had in a while, as if i was in a haze, going through the motions, hiding from critical eyes. but at the end folks asked for "the whale song". i looked over and asked ryley if i should play it. i guess i was asking if i could, was there enough time to play, but ryley, being supportive reminded me that it was my choice and that i didnt have to play it if i didnt want to.
i did and everyone sang along. i had never heard that many people wailing at once in my life. i thought of all the primi-kids who are all about howling in the woods as a means to reconnect to nature. i thought of campfires at the woodsquat back in guelph, the last time i had faith. i considered the pain and joy in split seconds and woke up to the room. it was good for my insides.

josh and steve. josh fuckface and steve believe. i met them a last year when they came to halifax to play at a house on chebucto. it was magic. everyone in town fell in love. and they seemed to fall in love as well, moving here and starting houses. they have new bands now and they practice with those bands, but not really as two kids running away anymore, a project now defunct, but for the celebration to end the retrograde, well they played their last show for us all. it was wonderful. kids screaming along and getting excited and loving every moment. i had to lean over the bar from the kitchen and get everyone to stop stomping so the folks downstairs could sleep. they couldnt stop. the stomps kept coming, as did the screaming and yelling and everyone having fun.
"10, 9, 8, 7, 6,..."
i got myself a glass.
"4, 3, 2, 1,..."
i turned on the tap and filled my glass. sober as a fish.
"happy new years!!!!"

all the while the kids were playing through the countdown and kept going right after. it was awesome.

the official suckers do not suck. in fact, i imagine most of the kids at the show think they suck the least out of everyone who played. for such intricate songs, with lyrics which dont rhyme, but tell important heart felt meandering and beautiful stories, i was amazed by how many people knew all the words.
i'd heard critiques lately that some of this show, that some of the organizers or the bands arent political enough, that they arent doing enough. well, the official suckers blew that outta the harbour! songs about your city, your everyday geography, telling its stories mixed up with your own is inspiring. its like audio graffiti written in the hearts and minds of all those who listen. and the stories told of being a trans girl, exploring where you and your body lie in that strange continuum, that is beyond a codified prescribed politics, that instead is a departure of ideologies. it is an affirmation of life, of its confusion, and resolution outside of a public discourse, but an inward looking soul searching, and coming to something greater than any book or theory. i often sing about taking life into our hands, making it what we want, shaping it after who we are. but the official suckers actualize this in their lyrics. and with beautiful melodies and harmonies they share that. it was transformative and moving. bringing folks together with honest portrayals of real life.
"some people don't think folk shows can change the world..."
maybe not, ryley, but they do offer hope, and maybe a little faith, that we can build things, we can work together, we can figure projects out and have a commonality which will propel us to better greater things. ive seen this when i was younger, at church. when folks sang together and played together, they could work together, achieve goals and cohesively function as a community which sought to strive further, together, for their values and dreams. i recognize that church was fuckered and messed up in so many ways, but i long for that community still and its power to bring folks together and help them work together. i see that in diy scenes. i see that in these folk shows sometimes. i see a potential that offers hope and a possibility. it, dare i say, inspires me.
i hope to continue to be inspired here in halifax. up the punks.

story/review by byron.
photos by rosie toes


  1. i'm so damned upset that i was not there.

  2. Cynical shit.

  3. I miss you all.
    I send you so so so much love.

  4. this is so well written... fuck