October 18, 2009
come home and the birds will bring you honey

Yes, it’s been awhile. And if I didn’t forcibly carve out some time while Mason cooks and Blake sits in a time-out, there wouldn’t be this entry, either. My life is so stinking busy that I often have to make time for laundry and returning library books. There is so little relaxing that writing time is completely sacrificed. It sucks. I’m not happy about the fact that stories have been building in my head and pictures on my camera; both equally likely to fade away before they are noticed and dragged into the light.

Still, Wednesday was special and I want to spend those precious moments when I should be making a Hallowe’en costume or – heaven forfend! – marking, to think about them.

You will, by now, be prepared to roll your eyes when I tell you that we went to a concert by another member of the BSS family. (All I can say about our monomaniacal focus is that at least I like music again. Musical appreciation went into eclipse for just about all the years that the Boy & I were together, revived only by periodic pilgrimages to StanFest and the brief non-goth clubbing experiment of 2002-3.) It used to be that I only broke school-night curfew for something as epic as a Nick Cave concert; now that I’m in love with a smorgasbord of local and semi-local musicians, these “epic” nights come closer and closer together. I would have made arrangements for any night of the week (as I did for the Hidden Cameras gig last month) but Amy Millan’s Wednesday concert was particularly well-timed: every Wednesday during the school year, Blake spends the night with his dad and I am, if not responsibility-free, then responsible only for myself. Responsibility-reduced, I suppose. So we bought tickets last month and prepared for something, well, epic.

I’ve only been to the Mod Club a few times; despite living a block down the street, I don’t remember it being a concert venue then. The first time was to see Daniel Johnston, the second for They Might Be Giants, so I associate the place with eclecticism and a devoted crowd. The location also gave me a chance to introduce Mason to Kalendar, a restaurant from the old days that I visit now all too infrequently. Mason drew my attention to the Shiatsu School of Canada across the street, and the idea of massage gripped us (heh) until after supper. Mason has a number of permanent conditions and has been looking for a good legitimate massage for a long time (as opposed to the kind that are advertised in the back of local papers and take place in trailers). He got an appointment for after supper; I was so full by this time that I was more than happy to curl up on the waiting room bench and close my eyes until he came out of the room.

He emerged sweaty and disheveled. “That wasn’t a shiatsu massage,” he pronounced. Oh no! And the place looked so classy.

Yeah, well. It wasn’t one of those massages, either. It was acupuncture and cupping, which is one of those things that remains completely exotic to me. It helped, though; Mason was pain-free for at least a day which is a new record. He was comfortable enough to suggest walking to the club, three or four blocks away in a night that seemed anxious for winter’s official start. I have yet to harden to the cold. But it was fine.

We got there too late to get a booth seat, but early enough to bag standing room on stage left, where we stayed for the whole night. I was glad for both the close-up view and that we were cut off from the comings and goings in the back of the room, so we could concentrate on the music and not crowd-watch. This made it a complete surprise at the end of the night when the room thinned out and every second person was a musician or in the BSS family.

But! That moment was at the other side of two hours of fairly quiet music. We saw the Bahamas last June, opening for Zeus, but this was the first time we’ve been able to see him without a wall of hipsters in the way. Mason bought the album back then, so this time we actually knew a few lyrics. It was a listening audience, quiet and supportive, clapping along when asked and staying silent when not. Afie struts and preens like a hair-metal lead guitarist, but it’s packaged in jeans and a button up shirt, with quiet melodic lyrics and a creepy dad mustache. It’s fun to watch.


Amy came out with many of the same people as in Harbourfront, with the notable addition of her sweetie and bandmate Evan, who decorated the stage with flowers a la a Stars concert. It was a beautiful concert, full of little stories and gentle sweetness. It was quiet, too; standing next to the amps wasn’t even an issue. It’s hard to describe how soothing and lovely she sounds live; she sets such a high standard that it’s easy to take it for granted. I honestly didn’t think that “Bruised Ghosts” could get any better than the album version, but when Feist bounded out of the wings to sing back-up and Evan and Doug Tielli sprayed us with two trombone parts, a wave of joy flooded my body.

amy millan
amy millan
amy & feist

Seeing the family was incredibly surreal. I went to the bathroom while Mason waited to talk to Evan, and when I got back, Ron Sexsmith was getting hassled by security as he walked backstage. “I’m with the band!” he protested. Is Ron Sexsmith gonna hafta choke a bitch?, I thought to myself, amused. Finding it difficult to decompress, I decided to stall for time by picking out some merchandise. I realized that Kevin Drew was behind me, talking loudly to his parents. Be cool, I thought, and went to the bank machine. We had come to the venue with 7 dollars, and had spent that on a single beer. I’m not complaining, as it left us clear-headed for what happened next.

The merchandise table had no change, so they sent me to the bar with my wallet in my hand. As I turned around to go back to the table, a guy asked me for ten dollars. We started to banter back and forth, introducing ourselves, talking about money and being a teacher (me) and how he had thought about it but didn’t care about teaching (him) and I realized that he looked familiar because he plays bass in Metric. Mason was still carrying the book around after having Evan sign it, and Josh found the one picture he was in to autograph. Jimmy Shaw wandered over to see what we were doing and exclaimed over the book. “That’s my picture! I took that on my camera!!” So we had him sign it, and we chatted about the New Year’s Eve dance party which he claims to only vaguely remember, “but not because [he] was drunk.” Smirk. So that’s why they were so nice to us. I’m not proud, I’ll take it.

Brendan Canning was also wandering around beardless, and we found the opportunity to apologize to him for invading the dj booth during the dance party. He was gracious and sweet, which is the first time I’ve been able to see up close what everyone says about him. All is forgiven, I hope.

There were still more autographs to bag, but at this point we were so overwhelmed by the rapid succession of meetings that we decided to leave. We were a block away before I realized that I had left the camera, full of lovely close-ups and photographic proof of the very special guest, somewhere in the venue. I ran back, but it was just sitting on the stage, waiting for us. The place was full of musicians, so who would have stolen it anyway?

We were still lucky.

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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*