What do I do when a band I’ve liked since the 90s comes to my town to play a free concert ten minutes from my house on a Friday night when I’ve got absolutely nothing else going on?
I pray for rain.
I’m not kidding. The local weather prophets were raising a hubbub about severe thunderstorms all Friday night, and I found myself hoping they’d be right so I wouldn’t have to leave the house and accidentally have fun. I didn’t want to drive downtown. I didn’t want to look around for a parking space. I didn’t want to be anywhere near people. I didn’t want to hear some fuckwit use the word “whatever” three different times while introducing one of my favorite bands. I didn’t want to get wet. I didn’t want to do anything. All I wanted to do was sit in my front room where it’s nice and dry.
But if I paid attention to everything I tell myself I want, then I’d probably never do anything at all and eventually turn into a poor version of Howard Hughes sitting around sorting peas. So I set an alarm for 9:20 p.m. I decided if it was raining when the alarm went off, then I’d stay at home. If the weather still looked good, then I’d go see the all-time greatest band from Canada down on Fountain Square for free…driving, parking, bad announcers be damned.
9:20. No rain. I headed off.
I didn’t have any problems with the drive or finding a parking space. I got down to Fountain Square with plenty of time to spare before the 10:00 show. I took a picture of the WKRP fountain all lit up with red lights. It was probably for the Cincinnati Reds, but it made me think of that scene in The Shining where the wave of blood comes out of the elevator.
I looked at the merch table and bought a copy of The Double Cross, a Sloan CD I somehow overlooked when it came out a few years back. It’s the yellow one in this picture.
Sloan came out a couple minutes later and started playing “If It Feels Good Do It”. That’s when something unexpected happened. All my grumbling and whining and anti-social tendencies disappeared and I felt the urge to do a celebratory rock ‘n’ roll kick and stick my hands in the air and maybe wave them around a little bit. I didn’t do either of those things, but I did tap my toes.
It turns out that I really like Sloan. They’ve been doing it a long time and still do it well. Sometimes people call it power pop, but I consider Sloan a rock band with far more talent than most of the groups in that genre. Wonderboy, anyone? All four members write and sing their own songs. I noticed they were taking turns singing in concert. It went Patrick, Jay, Chris, Patrick, Jay, Chris. What about Andrew? Well, he only took one turn. It was some turn, though. He left his drum kit and picked up a guitar about halfway through the show and proceeded to sing “Forty-Eight Portraits”, his entire 18-minute-long suite from last year’s Commonwealth album (that had each of the band members contributing one side of a double LP). It sort of killed the flow of the show, but I knew the song and was happy to hear it live.
As soon as Andrew’s turn ended, the members of Sloan went back to their usual instruments and began cramming in as many songs as they could before the 11:00 curfew. They got in four more. Highlights from this portion of the show included “Losing California” and the last song of the night, “Money City Maniacs”. I’m writing this post a little over twelve hours after the show ended and I’ve still got that perplexing “Money City Maniacs” chorus stuck in my head. It was the last thing going through my brain when I went to sleep last night and the first thing I thought this morning.
As always, here’s the setlist:
Setlist: If It Feels Good Do It/C’mon C’mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)/Carried Away/Keep Swinging (Downtown)/Who Taught You to Live Like That?/Ready For You/Forty-Eight Portraits/Losing California/I Hate My Generation/The Other Man/Money City Maniacs
I should probably bring this post full-circle by telling you that it never did get around to raining and that I’m glad I went to the show. Or maybe I should make another reference to sorting peas. I don’t feel like it. I’ve written enough.