Tuesday, August 30th
The Happy Pals – Surprise Party
East End, Toronto
I had the “day off” today. No plans with nobody until the evening, a perfect opportunity to re-launch my war on mold. I dumped about a litre of bleach all over my bathroom and other areas and scrubbed the hell out odf it, then had to head out to get some clear air.
On my walk to deposit a cheque, I happened to notice this at the corner of Bathurst and Bloor, in the display of a box for “The Grid”
Went and hit up a local pub to have a nice afternoon drink and read my comic, which ruled. Then home to warm up.
I set up my chair and started running scales etc until it was time to leave.
This gig was offered to me under the banner of a “surprise Party” out in the east end near Coxwell station, I was to arrive around 7:00-7:15 as the guest of honour was coming around 8:00 for the surprise.
I fixed up my wheel and got going. A boring ride across the Don. When I reached Coxwell I might up with Lindsay and we caught up, she’s working early shifts at the CNE for something and then heading down to New Orleans in October.
We’re the first one to get there, bass instruments usually are and we set outside the small Coxwell and Mortimer area home wondering home this is going to work.
When everyone arrives, Patrick, Toby, Alex Ralph, Roberta, we step inside. Tonight there will be no drummer, which means that the tiny living room we will be playing will be less cramped, but that my job will be a lot harder.
Set up here is even easier on electric gigs, just tune, pick a spot and set my bass down. After this, Alex, Lindsay and I go outside to relax. We get closer to the time of the guest’s arrival after we raid the cooler and the food. This is the first big surprise party I’ve ever done and it’s odd, just being quiet, or trying to be as the conversation is uncontainable.
When she finally does come in, we get our 3, 2, 1 and we start playing the Basin Street Parade, which is usually the last one that we play. She is thrilled to have us there and I’m struggling to keep time with no drummer. To make time yourself, which I don’t do often enough, except in Ivy’s group, it’s hard to tell if you’re rushing, but Alex helped me figure it out. We play for a good 45 and my hand is doing fine.
We take a long break, I sit out front with Toby and Lindsay and talk about Toby’s recently broken but well-healing arm.
Patrick comes out.
“Ok, in a minute we’re going to go in and do “happy Birthday and…”
(From inside) “Happy birthday… To YOU!”
Lindsay just laughs.
We head back in and pick up the next set, which is long, at the end, on “when the Saints” Toby and Lindsay grab helium balloons and do chipmunk voices on the background, brilliant stuff.
I discover that sadly I now have two small blood blisters, I think they’ll heal, though. I nibble, chat, talk to Patrick about Tom Waits and then decide to head. I get paid more than I thought, but have to run to the radio show. It’s a short ride to museum to meet Phil and Mike.
Some dude calls in and asks me to clarify my statement on the crucial fades in Star Wars, he sounds BLAZED!
Then, Christina calls in. It’s decided that we’re going to the DJ night on Sunday. And how.
Tim’s run, some talk, then to a 3:00am grave.
Saturday, August 27th
Blood Ceremony – Revival (The Rue Morgue Festival of Fear)
Saturdays are lazy days where one can take your time, grab a bite and show up late for things, even thoguh you give specific times and dead lines.
Well not. I got into work, right on time. A horrible angry 9:30 in the morning, a shift I haven’t worked in weeks. By the end I had settled down, but there were definitely some less than appropriate exchanges with customers.
When I left at 330, I bolted home, had a seriously quick shower and packed up my things, arriving at the practice space right around 4 to find everyone waiting there for me. After chatting with Jeremy Finklestein for a while, we went inside and calmly went through the set.
By the time we finished the set it was 6 and we decided to go get some food at Hero Burger. On returning to the space (with Andrew’s new gatefold Warner Bros copy of Paranoid), we remember that load in, was in the words of the promoter, “7:30″ sharp.
We rushed to pack everything up, Sean having to go to Paul’s Boutique very quickly to get a spare guitar and spare head in case his blew. We called for a van cab and loaded everything upstairs. When he arrived he took one look at thel oad and refused to get it all in, saying he would not let us put anything on his seats (which would be necessary) because they were made of leather.
So we call for another one while Alia, who was waiting around the front, just in case, walks around. The next one arrives and the guy is much different, much calmer, a real nice guy actually. We get loaded up quickly, bolt over to find Sean waiting at the front door. We head around the back and unload onto the sidewalk.
It is now 7:15.
A half an hour later, I decide to grab some batteries and some juice at the Metro around the corner. When I come back, we are greeted by one of the bartenders, a larger hip-hop looking guy with a broken right hand from boxing. He says that he hasn’t anything from anybody.
He calls the owner of the club who tells him that he had no idea that there was going to be a band that night. He’s eating dinner right now, he has the key, but he’s with his family, so he’s not sweating it.
The Jägermeister truck has also arrived.
Over the next hour and a half, a handful of people who are both working at the party and and who work at the venue show up (bartenders, bouncers, jäger girls, Rue Morgue event coordinators) none of whom have a key or the slightest idea of what’s going on.
Alia decides to g o home and change.
Finally, around 9:15, someone opens the back door. There’s a mad scramble to load and sound check as doors are at 10.
After all is hauled in, I lug my bass amp in, but to know avail. The power cord is very old and very finicky on this thing. On inspection, I know how to fix it, but this just adds to Sean’s stress.
“Can you call any one to get a bass amp right now?”
The wire for one of the plugs has come loose so all I need to do is reattach it, it only takes 5 minutes.
After I’m set up, it’s my job to call Alia and get her to get here quicker, she comes at 940.
A quick sound check and all of Hop Toad an we’re ready to go. Doors are open and I’m getting prepared to go on around 11:15. We’re shown to the green room where all the Jäger girls are currently getting done up like zombies, it’s a bizarre room to walk into. Sean and I decide to go back to his place so I can change into a doom shirt and he can change out of his true doom shorts.
I pick an Orodruin shirt out of Sean’s shirts. I need more doom shirts, and patches!
On returning we decide to go mingle with the crowd which has gotten quite bigger, near filling the frigid and smoky room of Revival. I meet two guys who have come from a long way; Mark, who if you refer to April, was the dude from New York who came up with his buddies to see us, he has come once again, jsut to see us, though this time… he Flew! And then Dominic, the guitarist from Moss, who is a wicked dude. We chat for a long time abotu life in Canada (he lives in Vancouver) real ales, and of course, doom.
It’s now 11:15 and Sean rallies the troops. As I stand on the stage tuning my bass, the organizer, Daniel, asks me if it’s ok if Tom Savini does his costume contest first because he’s tired and wants to go home with his family tonight.
30 minutes later, the costume contest is under way. I head off to the bathroom, missing it, though I did see some sweet zombie looks, one girl looked wicked.
After stage clears, we hop right on, quickly assembling gear, tuning and setting up. We signal to the DJs behind us to turn down the tunes.
Without hyperbole I can say it was one of the best performances we’ve done. Very few mistakes, very few awkward pauses, only before Return to Forever where Andrew was false cued, and then on Children of the future when I knocked the cord out of my tuner.
The Great God Pan
Return to Forever
My Demon Brother
I’m Coming With You
Children of the Future
Hymn to Pan
Regardless, there was some goth chick right up front basically getting humped by her boyfriend. Right at my feet, with a camcorder, licking each other’s faces. It was hilarious.
Afterwards we go to go upstairs, we’re stopped by a guy from Germany who really enjoyed the show, then by a couple who drove from New Brunswick to see us and John Waters.
After the show, we mostly jsut hung out, I was feeling pretty “up” on endorphins for whatever reason and I spent most of the night talking with a girl from Calgary.
When it was decided that we would go, Iwe packed up our stuff and called a van cab. Only to find failure, almost every company would not send a van cab downtown at this hour (namely, 2:30am). What follows is an odd sequence of events. I see a cab on the street adn hail it, only to have it dismissed by Andrew who has ordered one. Sean gets fed up, hails a cab, borrows my space keys and, after waiting 20 minutes for the van cab, goes to the space to drop stuff off so he can go home.
The van finally pulls up around 3 in the morning and we load up, ship out and reload into the space. From there we decide to go to the lakeview lunch, where Joyce and Amy will meet us.
I get the fromage a trois and a chocolate banana milkshake. That part rules.
Into bed by 4:45.
Wednesday, August 24th
Vince Lombardi – The Port
As usually happens, I worked before the gig. I had spent the morning atthe Gadke house, borrowing a table cloth and a tuxed jacket for the show tonight.
As mentioned in earlier posts, Vince Lombardi is a sports-rock-opera-musical that follows the life of Jimmy Banks (Ryan Spratt, electric bass, keyboards, vocals and vocoder) who is deperately trying to get on the football team, despite the wishes of Coach Simpson (Mike Simpson, Electric bass, vocals, vocoder and electric guitar). He is joined by two jocks Lance (Daryll Paulsen, guitar, vocals) and Lance (Josh Patrick, drums, vocals).
I take the role of the narrator. It is the first time that I’ve ver been “in a band” and not played an instrument.
I biked home from work to catch Mike driving down to the Port. I went inside , showered, got my stuff ready and left on my bike, right as the rain started coming down. I should mention that the rain was ridiculous today. All day there were warnings of tornados and extreme weather watches. How well the show would be attended was anyone’s guess.
I arrived and Spratt was already there. His car died.
“I literally signed the ownership of my car over this morning, sold it for parts. It’s been a crazy day.”
The stage at the Port, which is a nice bar with pool in the back. Is not very deep and runs at at a 35 degree angle from the stage. I’m expected to make a little cut off area for myself with the table cloth. Tucking it under speakers and holding down with Boss Metal zone pedal I think I got about four square feet. A nice place to hold all my costumes and wigs, as well as run the iPod.
We mingle before the show with Cory and Léa, Sarah (Daryll’s girlfriend), Tim, a guy named Nick all the usual North Toronto crew. I borrow a marker from the bar to quickly draw a pentagram on my chest.
When Spratt’s insane keyboards are finally set up, we put it into motion. I do the first narration in my best WErner Herzog voice and the band plays “Don’t Be A Pussy” and “I Hate to Lose really” well.
The show runs really smooth. When I come out in my dress and wig and dance beside our two cheerleaders (Julia McLellan and Margaret Thompson) everyone laughs, even if I didn’t have time to make it into ponytails. The only major snag, more like a clustercuss, occurs after this wherein I lose place of the iPos that is supposed to play the NBA Jam theme.
“And then… whoa the game’s not working. What’s going on Lucas?”
“You need to blow on it, blow on the cartridge”
Then as I introduce the ghost of Charles Barkley, the mic is feeding back like a crazy, not to mention the super awkward moments of Mike and Ryan trading places. It’s all very funny.
I borrowed Alia’s cape for the doom Cheers theme and harassed the audience. There’s also a new bit at the end where I come out right before Sudden Death Overtime and pretend to be a conductor. We even bought a powdered wig.
We take a short break.
The next set is the dream cover set. It starts with Spratt’s new song, “Cheap and Dirty Whore” that I play banjo on. And then leads into “Here I Go Again/Pour Some Sugar on Me.”
Fourth song I’m called up to fulfill a life-long dream, Lead singing on “Witchfinder General.” Mike plays guitar.
“Are there any witches in the audience tonight?”
“No, that’s a bad thing. Lemme tell you why. Lemme tell you who I am.”
They end the night with “I Speed at Night” by Dio. I sing back-ups. The most fun I’ve had in a while.
We hang for a bit after the show and pack up. Julia the cheerleader is interested in banjo lessons so that’s pretty sweet.
Dave Kristiansen invites me up to the Piston. This is where the night goes… well.. downhill or up hill. I had my first Jager bomb up there (The taste of sin) I got in a long conversation about Burzum and Wagner with Rob and Tobin. Mike and I got home and talked history until 4 am.
I’m pretty hurting. No sign of weakness, though.
Sunday, August 7th
Blood Ceremony – The Smiling Buddha
Today was going to be the day. Brunch was going to happen. I haven’t had a Sunday “off” in a really long time and this time I was going to make it to the Black Metal Brunch at Graffiti’s. Eggs and Emperor.
I need to get up early and get the car from the folks’ place. I arise at nine to discover it’s pouring. I jogto the bus stop around the corner from me and wait for the 161 (one stop away from Ossington) while I listen to a lecture on inter-war politics.
A pleasantly quick jog uptown puts me in the seat of the car. It also gets closer to 10 and I’m determined to get these guys to the brunch place.
They all bail. I decide to go by myself. I drive down to Kensington, park and buy a newspaper. Civilized and totally brutal, black metal eggs.
The rain is letting up and it seems like we’re meeting for a practice around 12:30. I show up with everyone already there and we run through the set twice, taking a break in the middle to grab a fruit smoothie from Tim Horton’s. The sun is actually out.
After the practice we begin to plan. Everyone needs to go home and shower and we need to start making our trips over. I decide I’ll drive Andrew home with my amp loaded in, go to my place, have a shower, grab the t-shirts and then pick Andrew up and start loading into the Smiling Buddha at 5 which is when “Kim’s friend is supposed to get there.”
As I pick up Andrew from his house, I’m very glad I picked up Jimmy Smith’s Root Down. Sunny day and blaring funk. I could drive around all day like this.
When we arrive at the Smiling Buddha, we’re greeted by a locked door. We wait 10 minutes and decide to go to Mitzi’s for coffee/tea. We chat about stuff and listen to the annoying group of kids near us.
Back at the Buddha we meet the guys from Castle and eventually Kim’s friend, who was told to come at 6. But that doesn’t mean the bar is open.
We decide to unload the stuff from the car and grab another load, leaving it under Castle’s watch. Right as I turn on the ignition, the bar opens. It’s two more loads of crap coupled with a quick stop at Sean’s house for some CDs until we get back to the bar, it’s 630, doors are at 7 and music is supposed to start at 8 and we’ve just brought all the drums.
No matter, we set up, it looks like sound check will be scant. As Castle gets ready, we head over to the Brass Taps to get food (Quattro Fromaggio pizza for me) to go. Joyce, Amy and Jill Carr are already over there.
Sean is nervous so I order a big pizza to make sure he gets some food (two slices).
We arrive a few minutes before Castle start, and let me say, they are awesome! The bassist is phenomenal and the drummers poker face betrays a true animalistic joy is pulling off these off-kilter riffs.
More and more friends are showing up, too. Cory comes! it’s Kimpaler’s birthday show, so the room is filled with friendly faces; JM, Andy, Toby and Mike, Cindy…
I may also add that Blizaro had an emo breakdown in there car. John and Mark have not arrived (Mike came up on Friday). This is an eerie Déja Vu.
But, of course, they pull through and as Blood Ceremony sets up, they walk through the door, just in time to stand front and centre during Master of Confusion.
Master of Confusion
I’m Coming with You
Return to Forever
My Demon Brother
Children of the Future
The most covers we’ve ever down for sure, but the set feels really good and really tighyt, if a little hard on my ears (I gotta start wearing earplugs again). During the set, Liam Cohl, Galen, Eckert and Ivy come in. Friends for life.
I’m exhausted after playing and step outside as I always do to chat with Lenny, MIke, Ivy and Liam. Tobin comes out and we make plans to go to the baseball game on Tuesday (this happens and it ruled).
Back inside, Blizaro sets up surprisingly quickly. I love the set but unfortunately I have to hang back towards the bar to same my ears with Eva and Tom Moffat.
I enjoy the set and close to the end, Mark puts his bass down and I see Sean bolt towards me.
“John wants you to jam with him!”
“Like , back at the space!?”
I strap on the bass and we kick out some doomy riff in open “E” (more like C, I think). It’s a fucking blast!
John is getting cheers for one more, so he goes over to his keyboard and literally play for about ten minutes, just a solo. Mike tells us he will go on forever if left unattended.
After the show, we hang around for a bit, talking and schmoozing. I make friends with a girl named Jenny and talk about ghosts and the like. Everntually it’s getting close to 2 am and we call for a van cab, making one trip necessary. Sean and I load into the space. It’s tough work but it must be done. I drive back to the Buddha where Sean left his back and go home from there. The crash is hard.
Saturday, August 6th
The Long Haul – Bailey Backyard
Port Perry, Ontario
I had planned to go out for brunch with the entire Blood Ceremony crew at a place that Sean liks called “The Barn” near the practice space. I rose at 9, had my tea and got texts from Alia and Andrew lamenting hangovers and apologizing that they would not come. Oh well, Sean and I would enjoy a nice brunch together before practice.
Because I am being picked up at the practice space, I had to bring my amp with me. Carry it from my house to Ossington station. My arms hurt.
I get to “The Barn” which I though would be trendy brunch place, but, it turns out is just a cheap diner with people sitting at the bar at ten am, eating fried eggs and drinking bottles of Black Ice, one woman sits with a pitcher full of beer.
After we eat, Sean and I head back to the space where we are told by Andrew that he will be late. It’s 12:30 when he shows and I am getting picked up at 1:45.
We blaze through the set and I then head upstairs. I text Eckert. He calls.
“You’re outside the space, where?”
“Ohhh! I assumed you were at the Dupont one.”
True story. Anyway, I get picked up by Eckert and JVT and we slowly crawl through the city, via the Adelaide DVP entrance which none of us have ever seen. It’s a slow haul, but once we clear Vaughan, we’re moving and we arrive at Port around 3:30.
The clouds which have been building all day are slowly disappearing and Bailey has already set up the sound system which he picked up yesterday morning.
We sit around after setting up and eat chips and Johnny dip. Sometime around 4:30 we play a set that runs through the tracklisting of the album.
The whole point of this exercise is a fundraiser for the upcoming East Coast tour. We play well to a small audience of the Bailey’s neighbours. Burgers are made, donations are given. All in all, a nice evening.
Bailey will pack up my sound system and deliver it on Tuesday. We drive home easily enough arriving around 9. I get on my back and get over to the Smiling Buddha where Abyss, Demontage and Sepulchre are playing. Mosh mosh mosh and then to bed.
Friday, August 5th
The Rucksack Willies – Hugh’s Room
I woke early today, somewhere around 8:30. I actually went for a jog, did some errands, got stuff done. I had to work at 4:30 which gave me, essentially an entire working day before I had to go to work and before I had to play the show.
They were very accommodating at TBS and let me leave around 8:50. Jake and my parents decided that they were going to come and so Dave agreed to pick me up and drive me down with the bass. The Johnsons were going to come out, but unfortunately Amy got into a bike accident and had to go to the hospital.
They must run a pretty tight ship at Hugh’s Room (which I took to calling The Hugh’s Room for no reason) because the other band, Grainne, was already playing at 9:00 when I got there. I hung back with Angie, Eckert, Reuben and Carillo. Adrian had to go to a wedding that night in Montreal, so Matt Bailey would be filling in on guitar.
When it was our turn to go on, I was greeted by Dave, a soundman and double bassist I’ve worked with several times. He gave me a clip on mic and, for the record, did one of the best sound jobs I’ve ever encountered.
We played the set really well, comfortably with Bailey being familiar with the songs.
I stayed on after the show to watch the Joyful Sinners, leaving my bass in the office upstairs. I got a text, while we were playing from Alia inviting me out to the Goat Horn reunion show. After the Sinners finished up and my parents had gone home, I took a cab back to my place and foolishly flew over to the Poor Alex Theatre in my Rucksack clothes. A lone plaid among a sea of black t-shirts.
Goat Horn killed. They killed despite the bar closing at 12:30. And I suppose to stem the riot that would ensue, the bar started to serve drinks again, but very angrily and unhelpfully. Obviously these people hate making money.
After the show, on the way to the PRess Club, I ran into Ian Robertson from the Elwins.
Bike home, to bed.
Monday, August 1st
Jay Aymar – Melwel Lodge.
I awake early, 10 o’clock and shower and start to move. I leave the room and go for a walk, to the end of a massive stone beakwater and stick my feet in the lake.
When I come back the hotel room ,Tim groggily informs me we’ll be going to get breakfast at 12:30 in the restaurant of the Hilton Beach inn, which is closed, our own private pancakes and omelettes.
I kill time and rouse tim at noon, he gets ready and walk into the surprisingly clean restaurant despite the madness of the night before.
Tim and I sit for a while and wait. About 112:50, Jay and Natalie come in and we are given coffee and tea and the news to watch (which eventually leads us to watch strange children’s programming on CBC, complete with Sloan doing Penpals on Treehouse or something).
Natalie give us delicious wil blueberry pancakes AND omelettes. We are sated.
Jay says we’re going to go back to the cabin and swim. Excellent idea.
We load up and I drive over, blaring Witchfinder General. When we arrive, again, we are given beers, made to change and guided into the cool waters of lake Huron.
A boat is brought out, Megan Tinmouth’s dad will take us tubing, right on.
I hold on for dear life and eventually jump off. Let’s just say it’s not ideal for sore bass player arms.
Back on dry land, we relax, get changed and are marshalled by Jay to get in the van. He says we’re playing at dinner and need to leave soon. This I later learn, is a lie to get us out of chores.
We are informed that we’ll have a guest, Natalie’s son Cole. We pick him up at the restaurant. The kid has been squirrelled away in his room all summer while his friends are at camp. Thinking about Dragonball Z, meditation and making “Flipbook” animation on his portable Nintendo thing. He also loves sonic, I find out as I ride in the back of the van with him. he has no seat and reclines on a banket against an amp.
We have to go the hotel and sign myself and Tim in. Then we go off the Melwel lodge. We pull in and meet an old man with two canes who tells us odd stories about his first daughter and jokes about drowning her, right off the bat.
Inside we’re treated to a payaya dinner and conversaion with one of Jay’s friends and others whom I’m not quite sure what their role was. We recline and relax and walk about while Cole, busting with energy, hops around on one leg or works at “Super-punching” a pillow. He’s almost certifiably insane.
The gig is almost a write off, it’s a house party, once again booked at the wrong time. We play two very short sets, are treated to delicious cheese and beautiful sunset.
I want to leave soon so I pack everything, say goodbye and push Tim along (Jay will stay with Natalie). I drive back to the hotel, park in the wrong spot, am asked to move and load in my stuff to the semi-dingy room. We watch “Christmas vacation” and fall asleep. So ends my stay up north.