Archive for December, 2009

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The better late than never review of Patrick Watson’s fantastical and magical Vogue show

December 19, 2009

As usual, I’ve taken way too long to review Patrick Watson’s show at the Vogue, which happened more than a week ago. Starting a demanding job, which involves a long commute, isn’t conducive to blogging. But no apologies – it’s my blog, and I’ll write when I want to.

A friend was supposed to go to the gig but she missed it because of a business trip. I told her I would blog about it so she could get a taste of what went down, and she joked that I shouldn’t make it sound too good. Well, sorry my friend, but it was a breathtaking concert that I didn’t want to end.

The evening started with standing in line outside the Vogue, shivering in the cold. The wait was worth it because we scored perfect seats in the lower section of the theatre – not too far from the stage and not too close, which is important because people at the front will invariably stand (and they did).

The opener was Aidan Knight from Victoria, who went over well because of his endearing voice, pleasing guitar playing, and funny between-song gab/nervous energy. Too bad the Michael Cera look-alike talked too much. Less talk, more music would have been better, but I still enjoyed hearing him for the first time.

A video of Knight, not from the Vogue show, but one that shows his potential as a melancholic musician:

By the second song of Patrick Watson’s set, “Beijing”, I knew it was going to be an extraordinary concert. The song had so much going for it: Watson’s amazing vocals, his expressive piano style, the wondrous sounds of a string quartet – called “Mommies on the Run” (even though there was one guy) – and the whole band’s inspired playing (especially Robbie Kunster on drums and odd percussion). “Beijing” is arguably the best tune on Watson’s Wooden Arms album; it made an even bigger impact live. (Maybe strings are the key. When I think of concerts that really stood out for me the last few years – Sufjan Stevens, Antony & The Johnsons (twice) and Dan Mangan – they all had string sections that created beautiful textures.)

And it went on from there, one song after another where Watson and his band members created beguiling moods and never got predictable. I heard shades of Antony, Sufjan, Tom Waits and Radiohead. A Facebook friend said the music reminded her of Spiritualized. It went from alternative cabaret to purely melodic sounds to experimental electronica. At the core was Watson – musicality just oozes out of his pores. What was Pitchfork thinking when they gave Wooden Arms 3.3?

The encore was truly epic. Watson put on a fantastical contraption straight out of Dr. Seuss: a backpack with five, lit-up megaphones extending out from it. His voice was projected through the megaphone machine, and one musician also plugged in. Meanwhile the other instrumentalists, including Kunster playing a saw, went up to the balcony – their unamplified music wafted through the fading theatre. A magical end to a remarkable concert.

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Lady Gaga & Kid Cudi – without parents!

December 12, 2009

Soon I’m going to have to rename this blog “Three Wongs”. This post marks the music blogging debut of the third Wong, Sarah, who reviews the irrepressible Lady Gaga. Miles chimes in with his take on the genre-crossing rapper Kid Cudi. When the tickets for Gaga and Cudi’s Vancouver shows went on sale weeks ago, something told me I had to get some for my kids, and that it would be all right for them to go without us old parents. It was the right hunch – they had a great time at the sold-out “Monster Ball” show, nothing bad happened (other than getting their ears blasted) and they experienced two artists at the epicenter of contemporary pop culture.

Lady Gaga by SW
On Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 I got to see Lady Gaga live at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It was amazing!!! Lady Gaga is one of my favorite singers and it was so cool to see her perform.

It was very cool because I got to go with my brother and it was the first time I’d ever been to a concert without parents. My brother went to the concert because he wanted to see Kid Cudi who was opening for her. Kid Cudi was actually really good. I don’t know if Miles enjoyed the Lady Gaga part but he was really glad to see Kid Cudi perform.

Lady Gaga was very, very good. She had great energy and she’s an awesome singer live. I didn’t know some of the songs but that’s OK. Usually when I go to concerts I always hear stuff I’ve never heard before and then I want to listen to it later and then I get to hear something new. But the songs that I did know were performed really well and I enjoyed singing along at the concert (though it was too noisy to hear myself).

I really liked when Lady Gaga played piano because she’s super-skilled at piano. I also liked the cool effects she had. There was this part when a couple of the dancers were in this green box and it looked really cool because the box was neon green. I also liked when Lady Gaga talked to the audience because she’s just super cool when she talks and most of the things she was saying were intelligent and deep thoughts. She was talking about how when you’re feeling sad she wants to let you know she’ll always be right beside you, and stuff like that. She played for a long time and it was super loud but I had a great time.

It was hard to see during the concert because everybody was taller than me because it was mostly adults that were at the concert. I had to keep looking around people’s heads and stuff. That part kind of sucked, but whatever.

At the concert I bought a t-shirt that says “Beautiful Dirty Rich” on the front and “Lady Gaga” on the back. It also has a black and white drawing of Lady Gaga wearing sunglasses on the front. I like it a lot and “Beautiful Dirty Rich” is a good song, which was well-performed at the concert.

Something that makes Lady Gaga really unique is her fashion sense. She’s known to go a little crazy when it comes to clothing and I was excited to see what she was going to wear. She wore lots of gold and silver and she wore one red outfit. I thought she was going to change her outfits a lot but she didn’t change them that often. She wore lots of sparkly stuff and some masks that were pretty cool. She’s a definite fashion icon but I don’t think anyone will ever understand her crazy fashion sense.

I think it was one of the best concerts I’ve been to (although I haven’t been to that many) and it was an interesting experience going to it with only my brother. I’m very lucky and fortunate that my dad bought the tickets for us. I am so glad I went.

Lady Gaga at the QE Theatre:

Kid Cudi by MW
I definitely couldn’t care less about opener Semi Precious Weapons. They were just … not my kind of thing. At all. Anyways, on to ma boy Cudi.

The lights went out, and he came out with a little intro, which went into “Soundtrack 2 My Life”. Cudi was in his usual ecstatic mood, prancing around the stage. He was really getting the crowd into the set, even though I could tell that no one really knew most of his songs. Of course he mentioned a number of times that he was sorry that he was blabbing on because he was slightly drunk. Still though, it was a really dope set. He absolutely killed it on his “multi-song megamix”, including “Cudi Zone” and “Day ‘n Nite” (with a bit of the Crookers Remix!). People were just going insane when they broke out the Crookers Remix. Anyways, Kid Cudi just totally delivered, and hopefully he’ll be back soon.

Cudi at the QE: