Monday, August 31, 2009

When Did Festivals Start To Suck?

I hate to write about this now, what with my recent posts self-promoting my own UnPop Festival, but it's more of an anti-festival anyway, isn't it?

But when it isn't bad enough that they overcharge bands to apply, overcharge for tickets, overcharge for programs and souvenirs - now there's a chance you might, literally, lose your clothes at these events, even whilst wearing the buggers.

And if I read that right - it's people's own friends that do that to them?

There's just one thing to do - become a recluse. Listen to music at home, alone - you've paid for the CD or mp3 - or downloaded it. You can listen to what is likely the best version of each song, right in your home, where the drinks and food are affordable, too. And none of your freaking friends will get you naked for the fun of seeing you walk home in the buff with no cash for a cab - 'cause it was in your pants.

And if you want to full concert experience, buy the Live DVD, or download the live bootleg.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pop Goes the World

Montréal musician and columnist Jonathan Cummins, a Montreal Mirror regular for perhaps a decade now, hit a grand slam in his column today.

He bashed a reality TV show, a Canadian ''making the band'' type of horror thing, with terrible Canadian no-talent judges, with foul language that brings vivid imagery.

He also plugged my show and and festival, UnPop Montréal, and all the acts playing at Parc Des Amériques tomorrow night, without even mentionning the acts playing the same place today, Saturday and Sunday - all organized by Pop Montreal, my ''direct competitor''.

Hmmm: also: I just noticed, while linking to Pop's website, that they too are plugging my show(s) - with a picture of me playing solo, too! And the pic is my former Facebook profile pic, where did they get it? I want to say ''thanks'', but too many questions are raised...

It's weird. I like to comment on the news, but now I am the news. I guess Michael Jackson really is dead.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Desire Curve

I was out having a drink with a couple of friends - who happen to, indeed, be a couple - and they tend to be a little too open with me. ''Full disclosure'' is never enough for them, they always keep providing more details than I need - on any subject.

Their sex life is one that pops up often. Frequency, duration, length, width, exact number of pulls, tugs and hits - it's like I was there, each time.

Tonight was no exception.

I got an hour-long tirade on her part on how he doesn't provide as many heavy sensations as he used to, and no matter what argument he used to describe the current state of their relationship, it always led to ''things were better before'' and crap like that. Until I came with the killer phrase:

The problem is he's gotten to know you better, and because of that, he cares about you more. Before, he'd fuck you constantly, like each second was going to be his last one on earth, and he really wanted that last one to be with you.

Now, he envisions a future with you. He wants to only provide you with great moments, moments you'll cherish forever, because he thinks it's what you're worth. He doesn't want to risk a half-assed attempt that will disappoint; he only wants to be at the top of his game for you.

It's not that he wants you less, it's that he loves you more.

That's why, sometimes, when you're both too drunk to even walk home, when you get there, he asks you to wait until the next morning: to provide for you and hit you with his maximum effort.
She went to bed thinking she was the hottest female on the planet. He got a guilt-free full night's sleep.

I've done my job, once again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

UnPop Montréal 2009

Well, it's official: UnPop Montréal 2009 will take place, starting August 24th, hopefully until September 15th - I really like partying on my birthday, and beyond.

All shows, as usual, will be free for the public to attend.

The start-off show will be held at Soundcentral, an independent record shop situated at the corner of Coloniale and Mont-Royal, and will feature myself, Sébastian Hell, and Small Wars - UnPop founder Nate Munn's acousti-punk alter-ego.

The most massive show will be an outdoors extravaganza on St-Laurent street, Friday, August 28th, from 4PM to 10PM, during the street fair - a collaboration with our nemesis Pop Montreal (as in 2006, we've given peace a chance, more specifically, the chance to play outdoors to a bunch of people). And it'll rock onwards and upwards from there.

Some shows are still being booked as we speak, some bands have yet to confirm, but this year, Year 5, looks to not only be a good yet, but possibly the best yet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

News Is Happening In French

I know it seems like I've been neglecting this blog this August - 11 days in and barely three posts.

That's because even if the whole world has given much food for thought and angered me enough to write, and I also have tons of stories to tell, my own local news has given me much to write about, and much of it with the French side of my brain.

So I've been writing about it on my French blog, mostly, as well as on a three-language 'political' blog I share with Alex Beaudoin-Duquette - although it's not really political, more an observation at how absurd the world has become.

As a friend pointed out, it's like as if the real news and The Onion were now undissociable.

I'll likely translate a couple down the line (say... this weekend), but in the meantime, if you understand French and Espanol, look those buggers up.

Oh, and I'm also gearing up and preparing UnPop Montréal, my annual gift back to my city where I provide, for free, tons of artists' shows all around town. Including an all-day outdoors event on St-Laurent street during the street fair. Oh yeah!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm Freaking Out, Man

I'm freaking out, man.

Like, am I looking at a pic of Neo saying ''whoa'', or is Neo looking at me through his internets? And if he is, is it pre-discovering he's The One so he's just hacking me, or if he trying to save me from the machines by offering me some free pills.

And if he's at the pill level, does that also mean he's the one who's been sending me emails for cheap blue pills that'll make my dick stronger? And if my dick gets hard 24/7, can I get a crack at the chick in the red dress from the initial Matrix practice program? And since she's a computer program, can they make her boobs bigger?

Again: I'm freaking out, man.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

But Seriously? Another Blog Plug?

My friend - and current drummer - Greg has a blog called But Seriously? where he shares his life, and his disappointments at band break-ups.

Current topic: looking for an apartment, and a pregnant girlfriend.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Soundgarden: Professional Assholes

I was waiting so impatiently for August 19th, 1994 to arrive. 364 days after the best show I've ever seen (Pearl Jam, 1993-08-20, Verdun Auditorium), it was Soundgarden's turn to rock the Auditorium.

Those two bands had so much in common, they were practically sister bands: Pearl Jam had come to be only after the death (by overdose) of Andy Wood, lead singer of Mother Love Bone, when half the band (Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard) went looking for something new. As ''luck'' would have it, Chris Cornell, leader of Soundgarden, was his roommate. When Wood died, Cornell, his bandmates and a few friends who had known him got together to record the Temple Of The Dog record, 10 songs released in 1991 in tribute to Wood, most written entirely by Cornell, except three where Gossard created the music to accompany Cornell's words.

One of those songs, Times Of Trouble, was later re-made by Pearl Jam, keeping the music, but with Eddie Vedder creating new lyrics and vocal pieces for a track now named Footsteps.

And Soundgarden's drummer, Matt Cameron, was actually behind the kit for the demos Pearl Jam recorded when they were shopping their songs to labels; he has also been their permanent drummer since a 1998 accident caused Jack Irons to forfeit the Yield tour, never to return.

So when 1994 came around, Soundgarden were touring what turned out to be their most successful record, Superunknown, a record on which they seemingly abandoned their previous ''heavy metal'' sound in favour of a more subtle and subdued approach reminiscent of Pearl Jam's sound, while Cornell himself, at the time known for his high-pitched squeals, like most of his contemporaries, took on a Vedder-like low growl where lyrics were now mumbled instead. But the songs were very strong.

They had lost some originality but were following some pretty solid footsteps, as PJ, at the time, could do no wrong: consecutive record-breaking release dates, taking over airwaves for pirate radio shows, fighting for low concert ticket prices, and a reputation for being the best live act in the world.

It was a no-brainer when came the time to purchase my show tickets. The show's date and the place where it was set to happen made the coincidences look like an alignment of stars any fortune teller would call ''fate''.

All summer long, as the sounds of Black Hole Sun took over from the riff-mania that was Spoonman on the radio and on TV music channels, as interest grew for this sold-out show, I looked forward to a night of awesomeness. I was even more excited when they announced the Reverend Horton Heat was going to open for them; we were getting top-notch talent, the same show Americans were getting, which to this day is still a little unusual. There are still acts who can't make it through the border and have to be replaced by local talent, which dims the overall spectacularness of the evening more often than not.

The day before, I had gone to the local HMV record store as I had a habit of doing when downtown, and purchased a CD (I forget which one) and a poster - that I still have. A typical band poster where all members can be seen from head to toe in front of a generic landscape that seemingly never ends. The band was Jesus Lizard, who are coming back in town this Fall, as it so happens, after perhaps a decade on hiatus.

After that, I went to see a movie at Place Alexis-Nihon, which no longer exists, but there's an AMC theater accross the street from where it used to be... where our hockey team used to play (Le Forum, the Temple Of Hockey in the Mecca of hockey, but I digress). I forget which movie, and who I was with, but I'll never forget what happened there.

An usher, having realized I was wearing a Soundgarden T-shirt (basically the Badmotorfinger album cover) came up to me to tell me ''hey man, 'The Dude from Soundgarden', your shirt, he's HERE, he's watching a movie right now, you want to meet him? His movie ends in like 5 minutes, I'll catch him when he gets out''.

And catch him he did. There was Kim Thayill, lead guitarist and one of the hairiest humans on the planet, accompanied by two, uh, ladies (one on each arm), stepping out of the screening room, and the usher forcing himself onto him like a bulimic running for an empty toilet stall, knocking other people on his way there. He points to me, in the distance yet at the front of my lane, and he (the usher) looks like a hyperventilating Britney Spears fan who wants her to be ''left alone'' - you know the type.

And there comes Thayill, with his two, uh, escorts, walking over to me.

''I guess you want an autograph?'', he asks, a black Sharpie pen already on him.

''Uh, yeah, sure, why not'' I answer, looking in my pocket for him to sign my movie ticket stub since I didn't have anything else to write on, really, when he takes my poster from out of my hands and signs its back, the white part, behind where the picture is, and he leaves.

I turn to the person I was with and tell her: ''the bastard! He ruined my Jesus Lizard poster!''

Indeed, what kind of motherfucker signs a poster without checking if he's on it first? He could have killed two birds with one stone just by attempting to sign the picture at least, where he'd have seen it wasn't his band on it...

So I left the theater angry after seeing a movie I don't even remember anymore (possibly Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, but who knows, really?) and went home to dream about how great the next day's performance was going to be. Because if there's one thing I've learned from television, it's that stars can sometimes be total jerk-offs all the while doing their job (be it acting, singing, playing music, directing, or ''being Paris Hilton'', whatever she does) very well.

The day went by pretty quickly and can be summed up pretty easily: a bunch of friends and I, separately or together, at some point, were all getting ready to go to the show. Verdun Auditorium is situated on the island of Montréal, close to downtown, and is two blocks away from a subway station, in a district called Verdun. In 1994, it was its own city but has since been incorporated into Montréal, so they could have a reason for their streets to be filthy, and to pay higher property taxes. The Auditorium is one of the warmest amphitheaters in the city for rock shows, which is ironic considering it's a small-to-mid-size hockey arena (sitting upwards of 5000 people per game).

Reverend Horton Heat rocks the house and, indeed, brings the heat in. We all resort to drinking beer because it is cheaper than water but also because the place is boiling; the walls are wet from sweat and condensation, people are fainting, it will be a night to remember for those of us who will stay awake to see all of it.

Soundgarden takes the stage and, as is to be expected, girls go wild for Cornell and a frenzy develops up front, where most of the people I know are, including my friend Sylvie, who hopes to be as lucky as last year, when she spent most of Pearl Jam's show making out with a total stranger whose name she never got and whom she never saw again. I'm at the right-hand of the stage, crowd-wise, left-hand side for the band, right in front of bass player Ben Shepherd.

By the fourth of fith song in, the heat is unbearable. I get a flash that sometimes, at Verdun, firemen hose people when it gets too hot, but none of them are in sight. Shepherd, however, has over a dozen water bottles on his bass amp, and drinks from them often. At song six, he feigns giving one to an audience member, then proceeds to just empty it out on the fucking stage. Just like that, wasting the water, taunting us. And he does it again and again.

Thayill is at the other end completely, totally ignoring the crowd, more often than not facing drummer Matt Cameron, the rest of the time looking at the floor. Cornell, for his part, tries to be the rock god he's always dreamed of being, what with Bono-like arm extensions to the ceiling and to the crowd and, of course, the inevitable Jesus Christ Pose.

But rock stars attract teenage girls, and apparently Cornell, true to his indie/street-cred reputation of a real and faithful and loving married man wanted nothing of it, so when Black Hole Sun started and little girls were throwing their hands up to Cornell who had let go of his guitar and was strutting at the edge of the stage pretending to mingle with fans, all he could think of doing was hitting them on the hands with his microphone, not in a ''high-five'' kind of way, but more like a ''I will break your fingers'' kind of way... which was so wrong.

After two hours of bad-sounding half-assed rocking in an arena that was too hot, Cornell and co. left the building - and so did 5000 of us, most of us extremely disappointed, some of us angered, at least one of us thinking Soundgarden were nothing but Professional Assholes.

P.S.: Matt Cameron, hidden behind his drum kit for the whole of the evening, did nothing asshole-y, I must admit. But I think I still begrudge him his former bandmates because as of today, 2009, he is still the only member of Pearl Jam I wouldn't follow blindly. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that he replaced my favourite drummer (Irons) in my favourite band...