k.d. lang – June 8th at Jack Singer Concert Hall.
I have to confess that I was not a k.d. lang aficionado. I respected her as an artist, humanitarian, and activist and could see her appeal, but aside from a few songs I wasn’t a huge fan of her music. That all changed when I joined the sold-out crowd at the Jack Singer Concert Hall to see lang do what she does best.
As a performer she is absolutely incredible! Casually strolling on stage, barefoot, to start the show with Upstream from her current album Watershed. She held the crowd captive throughout the 90 minute show; they laughed at her polite Canadians joke, when she danced around goofily for Miss Chatelaine and, when she told one of her band members she had “chop envy”. “I’d look damn handsome in those,” she said, “but I might resemble Fat Elvis too much.”
The audience leapt to their feet during her cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, the first of four much deserved standing ovations. They say k.d lang came home that night, and what a homecoming. Count me now as one of the converted.
Theory of a Deadman – June 12th at MacEwan Hall
Canadian rock seems to be taking off, with bands like Finger Eleven, Three Days Grace, Sum 41 and many others that are not only having success at home, but internationally.
Theory of a Deadman can add their names to that list, but that success has kept them away from Canada. Touring in support of their Scars & Souveniers album, they kicked off the show with three previous hits: Invisible Man, Hating Hollywood and Nothing Could Come Between Us. Lead singer Tyler Connolly, guitarist Dave Brenner and bassist Dean Back had the enthusiastic crowd in the palm of their hands.
The show was a solid mix of singles and songs from the new album, ending with their first two singles Bad Girlfriend and So Happy. While the act had everything you look for in a rock show – great energy, giant sing-alongs, and a set full of recognizable songs - there was one major flaw: it ended at 70 minutes. For a band with three albums out, this was really disappointing.
With concert tickets getting more and more expensive, I think bands need to give their fans their money’s worth. Had the show been an extra 20 minutes, they absolutely would have. Aside from that, Theory of a Deadman demonstrated why they are one of Canada’s top rock acts.
Virgin Music Festival – June 21st & 22nd at Fort Calgary
When Calgary was originally announced as a site for V-Fest, the anticipation was palpable among Calgary music fans. However, when the line-up was announced, that anticipation turned to disappointment; it consisted mainly of Canadian bands that have all toured Calgary in the past year, and people griped they would probably come again this summer anyway.
It didn’t seem to matter, as over the course of two days 35,000 people headed to Fort Calgary to take in bands like Three Days Grace, Matt Good, The Flaming Lips, The Tragically Hip and the newly re-united Stone Temple Pilots. The weather was absolutely perfect – in the 20’s each day, which meant that whether you liked guys or girls, there were lots of incredibly good looking people wearing not a lot of clothing. Aside from them, there was plenty to see and do: various eco-friendly vendors, lots of food, and not to mention two stages featuring 30 bands throughout the course of the day.
The choice of headliners were very unique in some ways, and yet very similar in others. The Stone Temple Pilots are 90’s rock icons, despite the highly publicized substance issues of lead singer Scott Weiland. The Tragically Hip are Canadian icons who have played Calgary probably hundreds of times in their career, and keep people coming back.
While musically they are quite different, what makes each band fun to watch is how captivating their lead singers are. Weiland plays the bad boy rock start to a tee, beginning in a suit and eventually stripping down out of his shirt and whirling around on and off stage. At one point he ran to the sound and light house at the back of the crowd, suddenly giving those in the back a front row seat. The Hip’s Gord Downie, who earlier performed with both The Constantines and City & Colour, probably broke a half a dozen mic stands while riding them like horses, spinning them around, and using them like a javelin. Both bands have so many hits that the entire closing sets were giant sing-alongs.
Other highlights of the weekend included sets by Three Days Grace, Stars, City & Colour, Matthew Good, The New Pornographers, Corb Lund, and the X.929 Exposure winners. Saturday night also featured a trippy set by The Flaming Lips that included Tele-tubbies, a giant plastic hamster ball, and a naked women. I can’t really explain it in a way that would do it justice.
The rock festival concept has gone through various phases throughout history, but Calgary proved that it knows how to rock. Not since Edgefest in 1999 has Calgary hosted a festival the likes V-fest. Without a doubt, it will be back, so don’t listen to the bickering about the lineup – just go, and have yourself a truly amazing experience.