Posted by: rocketbride | June 11, 2013

suck it, june

Man, I hate June. Everything smells fantastic, the weather is gorgeous, the kids are crazy to get on their bikes, the garden is crying out for pretty new friends, and I’m stuck in the house with a stack of marking too big to see over. (Like a chump.) Last year I had June to spend with my fantastic baby, and clearly I squandered my precious enjoyment so that there’s nothing left but the resentment.

Today I marked 23 Grade 12 essays. That sounds pretty good until you realize that I was also supposed to mark 29 Grade 11 essays. Perhaps I was over-reaching. Still, it would have been nice to take a definitive bite out of that big ugly stack of comparative essays. Sigh.

january 22


As in many years past, June blew in with the foul stench of paperwork underlain with the sweet meaty smell of a BSS event. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the foundation of Arts & Crafts, the record label that is equal parts awesome and frustrating. Many of my favourite bands are housed there, so I spend perhaps an unhealthy amount of time thinking about the operations of this company, and how they can keep me better-informed about said bands. Nevertheless, this anniversary has been marked by several awesome events, of which perhaps the most awesome is Field Trip, a festival to bring together the label’s bands in one big old-days blowout. Not only would we be treated to a one-time-only-until-the-next-time performance from BSS; Stars and Feist would be the warm up acts. There were also a host of other well-loved acts, from Brampton’s Own JC to Zeus (bitches) to Nice Nice Very Nice Dan Mangan to spooky Timber Timbre. There was to be fantastic food, there would be picnics and in-out privileges, and we were encouraged to bring our kids. Plus, it was in Fort York. Fort York!!

It was the in-out privileges that cinched it for me. My kids are awesome, but I had no wish to subject them to a concert that would last far into the night. One of my fondest memories of Blake is watching him sleep through a raucous Sloan set at Hillside, and Maggie does not do well without a 7pm-or-earlier bedtime. My parents agreed to come all the way down to the Fort and take the kids home for the night, so we could be free to dance unencumbered by sad, exhausted kids.

And because we had the kids, we could make other stops on the way. We were able to enjoy the first hour of Eleni’s hula-hooping birthday party, and found it hard to break away when the bouncy castle was jumping and the chips were crunching. Eventually we made our way to the Fort, where Blake began to forget that he has decided he hates concerts. I set up a blanket on the grass and broke out the grapes; Maggie ran around in her Ramones t-shirt, making friends with random collections of nearby people, and Blake found a video display. When we made it to the official kids’ area, it was even better: there was screen printing, face painting, a GIANT bouncy castle and hulahoops. Maggie continued to tear around like a demon while Blake experimented with how many times he could roll down the fortifications without breaking his glasses. I was almost sad when our time was up and the kids went off to their quiet night.

maggie ramone

The first band we were able to see was Timber Timbre. The other time we saw them outside, I was fairly disappointed with the crowd response. This time the (admittedly small) crowd was right into it, and I started dancing along in between eating supper from three different excellent vendors. The food was so magnificent that it really encouraged grazing; how could I possibly commit to pierogy when there was a fish taco two booths down?

Halfway through the set we left to see Stars on the other stage, betting that if we waited we wouldn’t get to see anything. Sure enough, the show was starting when we got there. This was my favourite Stars show; the first one in which I wasn’t terribly worried, terribly pregnant or terribly absent. My favourite moment was seeing Amy sing the chorus of “We Don’t Want Your Body” right in Evan’s face while he bent lower and lower with his guitar. Even Torq, who sometimes drives me crazy with all of the stuff that comes pouring out of his mouth, was in excellent form and I found him funny and charming. Torq was also my favourite person later during BSS, as he worked the crowd like a white indie Flavor Flav during “Stars & Sons” and was generally a bouncy fun cheerleader. He got second place in the “emotionally needy staement” category for the day, his question, “where was all this love when I was in Grade 10?” only surpassed by Kevin Drew’s later statement, “this reminds me of when we all used to get along.”

(Interesting fact: one week before the concert, I was following a shoe-less Maggie down the Queen Street sidewalk, when she made K Drew swerve to avoid her. My kids: getting in K Drew’s way since 2011.)

After Stars we decided to just stay put for Feist instead of going back for Dan Mangan. I love the Dan, but this was to be our first live Feist show and I didn’t want to screw up our sightlines. It didn’t turn out to matter, because I have seldom enjoyed a show less than this set. The newest stuff was fine, I suppose, but I’m lukewarm on the new stuff to begin with. I barely recognized “1234,” and when she did the crazy and yet boring extended “Sea Lion Woman,” I decided to get out of the crowd. I’m not an album purist, and I don’t think the hits are all that should be played, it’s just…

Look: I get that she’s uncomfortable with her popularity – for heaven’s sake, “1234” isn’t even on the retrospective album which makes absolutely no sense since it’s the biggest thing that ever happened to that label – but this was grievous. I went to a David Bowie concert in 1995 during which he only played songs from his new album, one that wouldn’t be released for another 2 weeks in Canada, and I can defend that as an artistic choice. He didn’t want to play “Changes,” fine. I can’t get behind the decision to “play” the hit as some sort of post-modern noise collage that comes off as Bjork without the spark. Just pull a Bowie and don’t play it.

Anyway, I showed restraint that day and kept all my opinions to myself, not wanting to harsh on anyone else’s enjoyment in the crowd. There was a tall drunk woman directly behind us that was singing along to everything; if she ever hit a right note it was by accident, and I didn’t want to pick a fight with her. I like Feist, most of the time. I like her fans. I just didn’t like this.

I slid and wormed through the crowd when the set was over, finally resting about four people back from Mason. I was resigned to staying there, but the intervening people insisted on making way for me, so I got to spend the last set with terrible sightlines and my wonderful husband. I’ll take that combo over good sightlines and strangers any day.

The problem with writing about any BSS concert is that it can never match up to Harbourfront. It just can’t. With that in mind, it was an incredible experience. They played You Forgot it in People from “Pacific Theme” to “Pitter-patter Goes My Heart” and we all sung and danced along the journey. (My other “complaint” is that I’m already jumping with my fist in the air during the chorus of “7/4 Shoreline”, how can I amp it up during the horn part? Too much happy.) I feel like I’ve never seen “I’m Still Your Fag” live, but maybe I have. Maybe I’m manufacturing the image of Jimmy Shaw playing it to Kevin or maybe I really did see that once.

Speaking of Jimmy, that was the best moment of that set for me, when they announced “Jimmy and the photocall” and then he walked on stage. Kevin and Brendan were swearing into the mike, Torq attacked him with a hug, and everyone acted totally gobsmacked. It was a lovely spontaneous joy to watch. Many past performers including Bill Priddle and Jo-ann Goldsmith came out for the night, leading to crowded and perfect stage. I was sad when there was no encore, but also a bit relieved. I’m not sure how much sustained joy my heart can take.



  1. […] the weekend after Field Trip I gave up everything. I stopped pretending that I could handle it all; I saw the stacks and stacks […]

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