Barenaked Ladies (LIVE!)

Tonight, I took my son to his very first rock concert. We saw (as you can tell from the title) the Barenaked Ladies at the ENMAX centre in Lethbridge.

The ‘Ladies and myself have had a troubled history: when I was in the Grade 9 (that was me in grade 9 baby…), I had a girlfriend named Kaylie who was OBSESSED with BNL. This was right around their first album, Gordon (1993?), and she used to make me listen to it all the time. Back then, I was playing in punk bands and all I was into at the time was hardcore and straight edge music. BNL was the last thing I wanted to hear.

Yet, when they came to town (to the Yates Theatre), she dragged me there like 10 hours before the concert, to see if we could meet the band. They weren’t really that big back then, and sure enough, we found them behind the venue cooking hot dogs on a BBQ. They were very kind to us, and tolerated our presence for longer than I would have.

As happens, the more I was exposed to it, the more it grew on me. In fact, I still have that entire album recoded to memory; “Hello City” “Be My Yoko Ono,” “New Kids on the Block,” “The Flag.”

One song in particular has stayed with me; “Brian Wilson” (Mp3). In so many ways, this song sums me up perfectly, and is definitely in my funeral playlist (that is, the songs that are going to be blasted on a ghetto blaster sitting atop my casket). I have listened to this song innumerable times, and I have never been able to get sick of it

So I’m lying here, just staring at the ceiling tiles.
and I’m thinking about what to think about.
Just listening and relistening to “Smiley Smile”

and I’m wondering if this is some kind of creative drought
because I am

So, the question remains: for me, are Barenaked Ladies a guilty pleasure? The honest answer is yes… and no. They have so many songs that do not require guilty pleasure status: the above mentioned “Brian Wilson,” “What A Good Boy,” their amazing rendition of “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,”  “Call and Answer,” “Shoe Box.”
They also have a side to them that is pure kitsch, and I find myself troubled over my enjoyment of them – specifically songs like “One Week” (which is pure pop bliss), “It’s All Been Done,”  “Pinch Me.”

Then they have songs that are just embarrassing: specifically that song they released to radio a couple of years ago about getting post cards from Chimpanzee’s… a song so terrible that it made me reassess the band’s back catalogue. I could also live the rest of my life without hearing “If I Had a Million Dollars” again (and it must be so depressing to play every night, and have to play this song to the biggest reaction of the evening… no matter how brilliant their songwriting is).

The show itself? Well, it was typically Lethbridge. Lots of people sitting down, totally unengaged. The now-cliche “hold up your cellphones” instead of lighters (which makes me feel physically violent); people eating popcorn (at a rock concert…); people buying tour shirts (good) and then putting them on immediately (bad!).

The demographics were all over the map (though, not racially – it was a sea of white); age wise, the place was filled with women in their mid fourties looking bored. Really. The woman I was next to actually got pissed when the concert started and people stood up “What? I paid 75 dollars for this ticket! I am not standing for the entire show!” and then trying to get her friend to “file a complaint” (ha!). I blame The River for this – the local “Lite FM” station that tends to play “If I Had A Million Dollars” every fourty minutes.

The Barenaked Ladies themselves were outstanding. There was an extended section near the middle of the set where they all stood around one central microphone and played, old timey fashion (think Oh Brother, Where Art Thou). The set list was tight, and they were as funny as ever. They even played one of their new songs “Easy” which I instantly loved.

Brian Wilson

Old Apartment

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

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2 thoughts on “Barenaked Ladies (LIVE!)

  1. Truly was a GREAT show. Hey i was one of the ones eating popcorn, but BEFORE the show, because we hadnt really eaten. Ahh good times! Hayden seemed to love it!

  2. Wow … it sounds like Lethbridge shows have improved. Last time I went to one (and I’m not saying who b/c it is far, far too embarassing), I ended up bleeding the mosh pit surrounded by stunned Lethbridg-ites who wouldn’t let me out of the pit. Fun times.

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