Written by: Josh Pothier & Tiffany Naugler
Photos by: Tiffany Naugler
June 11, 2010 @ the Paragon Theatre ~ Halifax, NS
The anticipation for this show was HUGE!
It was a sold out, with 25 tickets available at the door… which were scooped up almost immediately by the eager people who were lined up outside The Paragon before the doors even opened. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I went to a show that actually had a line up by 9:30pm… your average show goer, here in Halifax, doesn’t arrive at the venue till close to 12am! (Read the rest of the review after the photos!)
By the time Tomcat Combat hit the stage, there were wall to wall people, making it tough to make your way to and from the bar. It was a sight for sore eyes to a band that opens a show, a little after 10:30pm. They came out kicking – bringing the rock to an otherwise electro/dance influenced show. Even still, hard hitting guitar riffs and sexy drum beats combined made the crowd move their bodies, bob their heads and dance like no one was watching.
The band faced a challenge, having to set up and play around a second drum kit which was placed in the middle of the stage, but that didn’t stop them from putting on an excellent show.
Their set ended with a wall of feedback and pedal tweaking, bleeps, and whirls. Guitarist, Noel Macdonald threw his guitar up against his amp and let it slide to the floor. Not content with the sound, laid the amp down slowly on top of the humming guitar, then continued to drag both guitar and amp across the stage in order to reach his pedal board.
Rich Aucoin is not so much a musician as he is a party engineer. It’s like he spends his time locked in a dusty basement watching old rock and roll concerts on scratchy VHS tapes, madly taking notes and trying to crack the code of the ultimate concert experience. Every few months he changes the formula a little more and ventures his way up his basement stairs and steps blindly into the sunlight clutching a MIDI controller and a sheet of paper with new theories to try out.
Here is a list of things he’s figured out so far:
- Double drummers: Good idea.
- Video screen projections: Awesome.
- White clothing: Mandatory.
- Dancing: Encouraged.
- Verses: Unnecessary.
Aucoin has re-shaped the art of the live show, and it was apparent last night at The Paragon that he’s almost got it down to a perfect science. He wandered around the stage conducting both his musicians and his audience together. He gave instructions, he fixed problems, he sang lead, he played the keyboard sometimes, he played the trumpet sometimes, he walked around the bar with his multicolored wireless microphone, he hit drums, he threw balloons and confetti, the guy just didn’t stop. He puts so much into his performance that the audience can’t help but give it back to him. It’s great, because Rich figured out long ago that live shows are a millions times more fun when the crowd can dance and sing along.
Instead of just putting out records and hoping people will listen to them enough to learn the words, Rich gives instructions before each song on how the main vocal line goes. Once the song starts it could be five minutes before you’d be asked to chant along, but once it happens the room explodes.
The entire process is a genius idea, because each show is essentially a seminar on how to attend a Rich Aucoin performance. Rich has found a way to involve his audience the way arena bands like KISS and AC/DC involve their audience, even if they show up to the show having never heard a song. Instead of guitar riffs and long hair however, it’s electro beats and clean shirts. If you like fun, then Rich Aucoin shows are for you. If you hate dancing, stay away.
The Caribou live experience is much like listening to their records, it’s hypnotic and it tweaks a certain part of your brain that can’t help but lock in with it. The songs have such intricate patterns layered within the main parts that you can lose yourself trying to discern what’s what most of the time. Their music walks the line between minimalist electro and maximalist psychedelic, and it’s really interesting to see how it all gets put together live.
With a set list containing most of their new record, Swim, Caribou ebbed and flowed, for over an hour, a musical tide with a steady pulsating undercurrent. The last show of a 40-date tour, Halifax was treated to a performance that was as much from the 60’s as it was from the future. The band was silhouetted onto video projections of various manipulations of the artwork for Swim. The crowd swayed and danced, never too aggressively, as rhythmic patterns escalated into full on dual drummer freak-outs and then back into a steady pulse.
Caribou are one of the most talented Canadian bands going right now, and it’s rare that we get to see musicians of this caliber play for a decent price. This is a Jazz show, a DJ set, a post rock show, a visual art show and a new wave dance party all rolled into one. Each musician has such a deep understanding of each facet of music that they can perform in every style Dan Snaith writes songs in, which is seemingly endless. Not only did they play enough old material to keep fans satisfied, they managed to blend it into a cohesive set, a large challenge when you consider how different each Caribou album is. This was a performance people will talk about for years to come, and they had just stopped talking about the last time Caribou played in 2004, when they were still Manitoba. Hopefully it wont be another 6 years until they return.