An Intimate Night With Sloan (11/13)

An Intimate Night With Sloan (11/13)

The band's tight chemistry and selections from their 30 year catalogue make their live return everything fans should expect it to be.
PHOTO CREDIT:
an intimate night with sloan poster, the band in front of an art wall

When my parents and other people who don’t like being called boomers, ask me to explain what an algorithm is, there are two words that usually get a slow nod of understanding from the technologically digressive – “Robot Butler.”

It’s the computer “thing” that makes sure that with the limited time that you have, the things that you enjoy will shoot to the top of your feed, or play next, or even send you a notifying prompt to get you and keep you on said apps. Ahem Cadbury, fetch me more photos of Sade//

As someone who's spent all of their remembered life hunting down music to cater to the friend and reader, my response to the Spotify algorithm which not only informs how the streaming giant sends content to our homepages, but selects songs based on the last one when the infinity button is pressed… often equates to rude laughter in short bursts.

For example, I played “Werewolves of London” once on Halloween weekend; since then, the algorithm has played it following any pre-80s song that reaches the end of its cue. Try it: play something by Alanis Morissette and then count the 90s and 2000s female singer songwriters and female-led bands it then churns out – everything from No Doubt to Blondie to Sheryl Crowe to Donna Lewis. Spotify’s objective of automatic curation fails to mimic how fans actually consume music. In other words, at no point do I ever feel compelled to only listen to music by female or male singers, that’s not how I think.

Take Sloan for example, now 30 years a beloved indie rock institution on home base, but that never received adequate marketing in the States despite being on Geffen, a label who strong hold on 90s rock could only be explained by having both Guns N Roses and Nirvana on its roster. Their sound, rooted in the powerful melodic ear of Big Star, the subtle humour of Weezer, and the playbook from nearly every important 60s and early 70s pop act, seemed tailor-made to American Gen Xers when the band was at the height of their powers.

Sloan’s reputation as a Canadian band can only be linked to their origins here and the boundaries that came from operating within this country during their era, conditions that were indeed more limiting in a pre-internet, pre-Arcade Fire distribution model. Still, play a Sloan song and the next things Spotify will likely play are Barenaked Ladies, Sam Roberts Band, Sarah McLachlan, Feist, Our Lady Peace, and Matthew Good Band. Eight artists who have very little, if anything to do with each other sonically.

It goes beyond tech. The pigeon-holing and repackaging of bands as products of Canada only because they are from Canada and less so because their music is about Canada deserves to be brought up at nearly all concerts for said artists; nearly all of them are at the table with their American composites. It’s this limitation that made artists like Sloan practically an institution here and added to their mythology; like The Hip, Sloan is ours. America was never ready for anything this modestly crunchy and sweetly melodic that didn’t loop in references to unpackaged action figures and afternoon masturbation sessions. The CRTC- inclusion supported imbalance of Sloan’s universality in Canada that outweighed what could be achieved in a totally saturated American scene, did nothing to demoralize the band’s output.

Last night in celebration of this legacy, Sloan played through ninety minutes and twelve albums of classics and confirmed a 13th arriving next year. It was enough for lead guitarist, Patrick Pentland to dryly joke that he had been cramming pre-show. The band came out at 10:33 PM, around an hour after doors opened and two hours after playing an early show.

The check swing announcement that Ontario’s planned lift of capacity limitations on live venues would be paused as the province counts increasing cases, led to bingo seating for the legendary standing room, paired and combined with a small coffee table and electric candle. No wonder they keep selling out shows; there seemed to be more people allowed in the Cactus Club we drove by on the way there.

It’s chemistry worth seeing in person. A thirty-year history celebrated by a band whose singer-bassist seems nearly recovered from his bout with Bell’s Palsy publicized earlier this year. Double guitars packing crunched distortion playing 1-4-5s with 7s and the odd minor 4th. A snare with auto garage reverb was audible over everything and respectfully used by Andrew Scott whose name was plastered across the front skin of his kick. A shaking tambourine played by multi-instrumentalist add-on Gregory Macdonald seemed as crucial as any vocal line. The lights were purple, sometimes blue. Melodic exuberance under the guise of the tired Canadian barfly. The crowd, full of those who ensured they caught the first night of intimate shows announced just last month, were chipper and willing to talk to each other despite awkward seating. Only a few people in the audience seemed to not know every last word of every song.

At one point I thought: if these guys were from Illinois or even Tacoma and not Nova Scotia, they would have been the band that The Strokes were trying to be. They look cool, they don’t really have to move, they play flawlessly, they have cool names, they came from an art school…though anyone in this building would likely shoo away this premise. It’s likely untrue anyways; the fact that Sloan is a band from Canada who never properly made it across the border should not force us to forge their entity by comparing them to groups who did.

The sardonic and reservedly ecstatic Chris Murphy, the guy who taught Scott Pilgrim how to move, did most of the talking (and moving really), itself a standard of Sloan’s concerts. The band’s signature instrument switch up was eagerly awaited and greeted with long groaning calls for Slooooooan while Murphy and Scott changed positions, but it diverted from the preferred lineup featuring the group’s Andrew Scott whose fills snapped the songs out of transition. The band’s sound tech, a lone ranger in a checkered shirt who re-upped Pentland with different guitars and accommodated this instrument switch and one back, and who joined the crowd in a side stage cheer for an encore at 11:40 PM, deserves honorary credit.

The best material was predictably the most well-known. “The Rest of My Life,” “The Good in Everyone,” anything off of Twice Removed, and yes, “Money City Maniacs” seemed to please the casual fans the same as the super. Shortly sweet tracks made anything over five minutes feel like Dark Side of the Moon, though the concert’s 90 minutes including one encore whizzed by. “Underwhelmed” closed out the show to commemorate Sloan’s belated thirtieth birthday, which was pushed nine months. “Underwhelmed” was the first song the band played in concert at NSCAD School of Art and Design where they had formed in 1991.

An Intimate Night with Sloan was everything fans should expect it to be.


Check out video of Sloan playing "Underwhelmed" here.

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An Intimate Night With Sloan (11/13)

City:
Toronto, ON
Venue:
The Phoenix Concert Theatre
Promised Show Time:
9:30 PM
Actual Show Time:
10:33 PM
Duration:
84 min
Opening Acts:
nope.
Overall Score:
B+

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When my parents and other people who don’t like being called boomers, ask me to explain what an algorithm is, there are two words that usually get a slow nod of understanding from the technologically digressive – “Robot Butler.”

It’s the computer “thing” that makes sure that with the limited time that you have, the things that you enjoy will shoot to the top of your feed, or play next, or even send you a notifying prompt to get you and keep you on said apps. Ahem Cadbury, fetch me more photos of Sade//

As someone who's spent all of their remembered life hunting down music to cater to the friend and reader, my response to the Spotify algorithm which not only informs how the streaming giant sends content to our homepages, but selects songs based on the last one when the infinity button is pressed… often equates to rude laughter in short bursts.

For example, I played “Werewolves of London” once on Halloween weekend; since then, the algorithm has played it following any pre-80s song that reaches the end of its cue. Try it: play something by Alanis Morissette and then count the 90s and 2000s female singer songwriters and female-led bands it then churns out – everything from No Doubt to Blondie to Sheryl Crowe to Donna Lewis. Spotify’s objective of automatic curation fails to mimic how fans actually consume music. In other words, at no point do I ever feel compelled to only listen to music by female or male singers, that’s not how I think.

Take Sloan for example, now 30 years a beloved indie rock institution on home base, but that never received adequate marketing in the States despite being on Geffen, a label who strong hold on 90s rock could only be explained by having both Guns N Roses and Nirvana on its roster. Their sound, rooted in the powerful melodic ear of Big Star, the subtle humour of Weezer, and the playbook from nearly every important 60s and early 70s pop act, seemed tailor-made to American Gen Xers when the band was at the height of their powers.

Sloan’s reputation as a Canadian band can only be linked to their origins here and the boundaries that came from operating within this country during their era, conditions that were indeed more limiting in a pre-internet, pre-Arcade Fire distribution model. Still, play a Sloan song and the next things Spotify will likely play are Barenaked Ladies, Sam Roberts Band, Sarah McLachlan, Feist, Our Lady Peace, and Matthew Good Band. Eight artists who have very little, if anything to do with each other sonically.

It goes beyond tech. The pigeon-holing and repackaging of bands as products of Canada only because they are from Canada and less so because their music is about Canada deserves to be brought up at nearly all concerts for said artists; nearly all of them are at the table with their American composites. It’s this limitation that made artists like Sloan practically an institution here and added to their mythology; like The Hip, Sloan is ours. America was never ready for anything this modestly crunchy and sweetly melodic that didn’t loop in references to unpackaged action figures and afternoon masturbation sessions. The CRTC- inclusion supported imbalance of Sloan’s universality in Canada that outweighed what could be achieved in a totally saturated American scene, did nothing to demoralize the band’s output.

Last night in celebration of this legacy, Sloan played through ninety minutes and twelve albums of classics and confirmed a 13th arriving next year. It was enough for lead guitarist, Patrick Pentland to dryly joke that he had been cramming pre-show. The band came out at 10:33 PM, around an hour after doors opened and two hours after playing an early show.

The check swing announcement that Ontario’s planned lift of capacity limitations on live venues would be paused as the province counts increasing cases, led to bingo seating for the legendary standing room, paired and combined with a small coffee table and electric candle. No wonder they keep selling out shows; there seemed to be more people allowed in the Cactus Club we drove by on the way there.

It’s chemistry worth seeing in person. A thirty-year history celebrated by a band whose singer-bassist seems nearly recovered from his bout with Bell’s Palsy publicized earlier this year. Double guitars packing crunched distortion playing 1-4-5s with 7s and the odd minor 4th. A snare with auto garage reverb was audible over everything and respectfully used by Andrew Scott whose name was plastered across the front skin of his kick. A shaking tambourine played by multi-instrumentalist add-on Gregory Macdonald seemed as crucial as any vocal line. The lights were purple, sometimes blue. Melodic exuberance under the guise of the tired Canadian barfly. The crowd, full of those who ensured they caught the first night of intimate shows announced just last month, were chipper and willing to talk to each other despite awkward seating. Only a few people in the audience seemed to not know every last word of every song.

At one point I thought: if these guys were from Illinois or even Tacoma and not Nova Scotia, they would have been the band that The Strokes were trying to be. They look cool, they don’t really have to move, they play flawlessly, they have cool names, they came from an art school…though anyone in this building would likely shoo away this premise. It’s likely untrue anyways; the fact that Sloan is a band from Canada who never properly made it across the border should not force us to forge their entity by comparing them to groups who did.

The sardonic and reservedly ecstatic Chris Murphy, the guy who taught Scott Pilgrim how to move, did most of the talking (and moving really), itself a standard of Sloan’s concerts. The band’s signature instrument switch up was eagerly awaited and greeted with long groaning calls for Slooooooan while Murphy and Scott changed positions, but it diverted from the preferred lineup featuring the group’s Andrew Scott whose fills snapped the songs out of transition. The band’s sound tech, a lone ranger in a checkered shirt who re-upped Pentland with different guitars and accommodated this instrument switch and one back, and who joined the crowd in a side stage cheer for an encore at 11:40 PM, deserves honorary credit.

The best material was predictably the most well-known. “The Rest of My Life,” “The Good in Everyone,” anything off of Twice Removed, and yes, “Money City Maniacs” seemed to please the casual fans the same as the super. Shortly sweet tracks made anything over five minutes feel like Dark Side of the Moon, though the concert’s 90 minutes including one encore whizzed by. “Underwhelmed” closed out the show to commemorate Sloan’s belated thirtieth birthday, which was pushed nine months. “Underwhelmed” was the first song the band played in concert at NSCAD School of Art and Design where they had formed in 1991.

An Intimate Night with Sloan was everything fans should expect it to be.


Check out video of Sloan playing "Underwhelmed" here.

-

-

-

An Intimate Night With Sloan (11/13)

City:
Toronto, ON
Venue:
The Phoenix Concert Theatre
Promised Show Time:
9:30 PM
Actual Show Time:
10:33 PM
Duration:
84 min
Opening Acts:
nope.
Overall Score:
B+

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