Ottawa, Canada
December 15
Greetings! I am a terminal music fan who will be writing about my life as a concertgoer from 1975 to the present. It’s about the music but also about the lives lived along with it. Many entries will feature a scan of the original ticket as well as a recollection of each gig as a whole experience rather than simply being a description of the performance. Therefore, this blog will be a mixture of memoir, concert review, music history, and philosophical musing. Concurrently, I will be writing about shows that I am seeing in the present. Thanks to Cublet for artwork assistance. **** I’m on Facebook ( mylifeinconcert) ... and have just launched a YouTube channel, VATV ( I also re/cross-post on my stand-alone blog ( Non-OS members who wish to comment can do so over at that site. *****

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MARCH 8, 2012 9:00PM

My Life — In Concert! 170b.Etc#7 Pt.2: Austra/Malkmus/Pope

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170b. Beat and the Pulse: Etc #7 2008-2011 Part Two with Austra, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, and Carole Pope.

Carole Pope, Stephen Malkmus, Austra  

A Note To My Regular Readers: As some of you may have noticed (with a few of you contacting me directly about this), I have been publishing and commenting on OS far less frequently than usual these past few months. It certainly isn’t because I am bored with OS or my writing series. On the contrary, I have a few upcoming entries in particular that look back at the remainder of shows from 1983 that I am quite keen to get to and write about.

However, writing takes time, focus, and a clear head for concentration — things in short supply at my end as of late. Sigh.

As my varied distractions may not be vanishing quite yet, I guess the "inconsistent appearances" approach will simply have to suffice for now.  In the meantime, thanks muchly for reading.

Love & Rhubarb,



This is Part Two of compilation entry Etc#7. Part One, covering shows by Rush, John Hiatt, the Levon Helm Band, Cyndi Lauper and Margaret Cho, can be viewed here.


Carole Pope, Dyke Stage on Church Street During Toronto Pride, Ontario, Canada, Saturday July 2, 2011, Free Show.

Carole Pope, Toronto Pride 2012

 Carole Pope performing in Toronto on July 2, 2011 — still taken from MarkinToronto’s video posted on YouTube.

Carole Pope was the gender-button-pushing lead singer and face of Rough Trade, the grossly underrated Canadian new wave band of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s that had one of the first overtly lesbian-themed hit singles anywhere in the world, with "High School Confidential" — still a radio staple.

Carole emerged onto the stage looking amazingly fit and well-preserved. I had to wonder: is there an aging Dorinda Grey painting hidden in a closet somewhere at home? She and her band charged through a set of originals peppered with Rough Trade favourites, such as the opener "All Touch" (Top 10 here in 1981). 

As the stage was located in the parking lot just behind Zipperz on Carlton St., Carole and the band were competing with the thumping vibra-building that housed the club, just yards away.  "Turn that shit down," shouted a fist shaking Carole. "Don’t make me come over there, motherfuckers!" she cheekily joked.

But once the band launched into a song, they sonically owned the surrounding molecules, delighting the fans congregating in the late-afternoon sunshine.

I’ll be writing about Rough Trade and Carole a few times during my series (they’re coming up fairly shortly), so I’ll save the in-depth career recap for that time. For now, I’ll just remark on how much fun this late Saturday set was during this past Toronto Pride weekend.

And full sartorial points go to the woman in the audience wearing the vintage T. Rex t-shirt with The Slider cover shot.

Carole opens the show with "All Touch." Cublet’s face and my shaved head and sunglasses are visible for a millisecond (YouTube).



Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks with Holy Sons, Ritual, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday September 22, 2011, $27.25.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Ottawa, September 2011 

Ahhh, the 1990s! All that fin de siècle jollity! Post and Pre the uptight and socially regressive 1980s and 2000s! Identity politics! A leftward shift! Indie cinema exploding! Alterna-rock, Britpop, and Electronica hit big! Cable channels make TV bearable once again!

And during that decade one that started with the Berlin Wall’s decimation and ended amid century’s-end, global Y2K hysteria my favourite band was probably Pavement; my favourite solo act, Beck.

I was drawn to each’s creative mix of peculiar aesthetics, hooky tunes, cockeyed lyrics, and distinct sonic trademarks. I even came thisclose to seeing both of them on the same bill, during the final Lollapalooza I attended (in 1995, coming up as no. 85). Pavement, who had a notoriously hit-or-miss reputation as a live band, were definitely in "hit" mode that day, delivering a brilliant set of their quirky-yet-rockin grooves. Alas, we didn’t arrive early enough to catch Beck (or Elastica for that matter).

Beck Pavement LPs variousartists  

Frequent visitors to VA’s CD player in the 90s: Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994), Brighten the Corners (1997), and Terror Twilight (1999); and Beck’s Mellow Gold (1994), Odelay (1996), and Mutations (1998).

Pavement ended in tandem with the decade/century, as lead vocalist and principal songwriter Stephen Malkmus launched a solo career with his backing band, the Jicks. Pavement reformed for some very successful shows during 2009-10, but stayed true to their word that the reunion would not be permanent (although they never said it wouldn’t be intermittent).

As for Beck Hansen, after 2002's superb, introspective Sea Change, he settled into a string of meh releases for the rest of the noughties.

Well, here we all are in ‘10s and those alterna titans of yore have joined forces, with the latter producing the former’s new one.

Actually, Beck’s been on one helluva roll in the producer’s chair as of late with Charlotte Gainsbourg’s I.R.M. (which he also largely wrote), Thurston Moore’s Demolished Thoughts (which strongly recalls Sea Change on a number of tracks), and Malkmus and the Jicks’ career best, Mirror Traffic. Based on these very strong releases, especially when measured against his last few patchy discs, Beck can simply carry on wearing his producer’s hat until he feels truly inspired again to be an artist in his own right as far as I’m concerned.

Stephen Malkmus Mirror Traffic 2011  

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Mirror Traffic (2011)

I’ve followed Malkmus’ solo output to varying degrees, liking what I’ve heard but only occasionally being as bowled over as I was with Pavement. I guess the Beck connection and the strong buzz preceding its August release compelled me to scoop up this new one at my local gramophone shop upon its appearance. In a year saturated with five-star albums (as I wrote in my 2011 recap), Mirror Traffic jumped out to me as one of the finest and is still in regular rotation on my personal jukebox.

How splendiferous, then, that it’s with this tour that Malkmus made his virgin visit to the National Capital.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Ottawa Ritual Setp 22 2011 variousartists  






Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks + crowd at Ritual, Thursday September 22, 2011 (Photos from the show by VA). Below: The cover of local weekly XPress, from the week of the gig.

Malkmus Ottawa Xpress September 2011 variousartists 

"It’s my first time in Ottawa," he remarked to a packed, enthusiastic house. He’d spent some time earlier on walking around the Market area where Ritual resides, in that section’s northern peak. Noting how the Rideau Canal divides the middle of downtown Ottawa between the Market and the business district, he commented that "I didn’t realize it was a thriving metropolis. I guess they keep the trash over here on this other side of the river," which was fine by him. "That’s how I consider myself," he jested.  Or maybe not.

Stephen and band had hit the stage around 11pm to a boisterous reception, following an earlier opening set from a post-rock-esque band that I believed was called Holy Sons (and were good). As for the headliner, given my focus on Mirror Traffic, I was pleased that the lion’s share of the gig focussed on playing most of this new album, although older numbers thrown into the mix too, such as "Ramp of Death," a personal favourite, which turned up as one of the encores.

Stephen Malkmus Ottawa 2011 

Good natured hijinks and buffoonery during the Ottawa show last September, with Malkmus and bassist Joanna Bolme chuckling along.

"Senator," the album’s single, got a particularly big response, whereas I was particularly pleased when I heard the opening notes of "Share the Red," a mid-tempo highlight from the new one. I had been talking pre-set with a transplant from New Brunswick and fellow Malkmus/Pavement fan who was excited to be seeing him in any capacity for the first time, and was similarly championing "Red" as Traffic’s finest moment.

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Ottawa 2011 

Meanwhile, the attendees jostled to be heard between numbers. "I want the penguin song," shouted someone loudly amid an aural blur of hopeful appeals. But Malkmus was faux-unmoved. "All requests must be emailed 24 hours in advance," was his deadpan quip.  

Drummer Jake Morris thanked the faithful "for coming to our house party" during the four-song encore, with the foursome finishing out the night via an off-the-cuff cover of the Looking Glass’ "Brandy," suggested by keyboard player Mike Clark who lead the band through it. Malkmus got creative with the lyrics when he couldn’t remember the originals. Following a spirited run through of "Jenny and the Ess-Dog" from his debut and head Jick playing a few licks from Rush’s "The Spirit of Radio" they were done like dinner, off and away.

Upon Pavement’s reconvening a couple of years back, I’ll admit that I’d hoped the reunion would produce some new material, and was disappointed that, instead, Malkmus went back to the Jicks. While I’d still love to see Pavement reform more than once, albums like Mirror Traffic and shows like this make me miss Pavement a tad less.

Someone posted a short clip on YouTube of one of the first numbers of the night, "Spazz," admittedly not one of my favourite tracks on the new album. This, however, is: "Share the Red" (below).



Austra, Ritual, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday December 3, 2011, $13.

Austra Ottawa Ritual December 3 2011 variousartists  

Having just endured an imperious Prince delivering a truncated set that I wasn’t able to see from overpriced seats with an obstructed view at the Palladium, er Corel Centre, er, Scotiabank Place, way out in the perpetually exciting environs of Kanata earlier in the evening, this set by rapidly-up-and-coming Austra in a small, packed, sweaty club to an enthusiastic downtown audience was just the anecdote I needed.

We’d purchased tix for this Austra show a couple of weeks before the announcement of Prince’s Ottawa gig, so some logistic planning was required in order to see two shows in one night in completely different parts of the city (thanks to VA Jr for the taxiing, and thanks to Austra for being late and not starting until midnight, moments after we arrived, allowing us to see their set in its entirety).

The evening was also a flashback of sorts, as we moved from seeing an ‘80s icon to a clever reinterpretation of an ‘80s-based sound. At times I was half expecting to turn around and see a woman in leg warmers drinking a can of New Coke while over-applying mousse to her big hair — accessorized with a rat’s tail, of course.

In one year, the electro-focussed Toronto unit have gone from obscurity to Polaris and Juno nominations and a swiftly rising visibility — particularly in Europe, but now also here at home in Canada — with their excellent debut disc, Feel It Break. It landed on a variety of "Best of 2012" lists (including mine), snagging the Album of the Year huzzahs from the Toronto Star and New York Magazine.

Austra Feel It Break 2011  

Austra, Feel It Break (2011)

Opera-trained Katie Stelmanis was centre stage with her dramatic, swooping vocals, rocking a look that could be described as a blonde Nico in a Hansel and Gretel dress, while twin sisters Romy and Sari Lightman bookended her, dancing, singing and flailing in doomy black unitards to terrific dramatic effect. In some ways, the theatrical-synthpop-with-operatic-touches, and the onstage symmetry of the front person flanked on either side by dramatically gesticulating backing vocalists, brought to mind the late, great Klaus Nomi’s performance in Urgh! A Music War.

While synths, played onstage by Ryan Wosniak but on record by Stelmanis, are the primary instrumental focus on recordings, the bass and drums, courtesy of core members Dorian Wolf and Maya Postepski respectively, are sonically forefronted when Austra appear in the flesh. The musicians collude into a full, dynamic live sound, providing a grounded counterpoint to Stelmanis’ soaring voice. Meanwhile, the two parallel rows of three persons created a sharp visual on the crammed stage.

"Hate Crime," "The Noise," and "Lose It" were enthusiastically received high points of the night, but it was the best known single, "Beat and The Pulse," that had revellers going looney. "You recognize that one," chimed in Stelmanis as excited cheers greeted its opening notes.

Encore "The Future" rounded out this night which wrapped up a successful five week tour of Canada. "Thank you for coming and celebrating with us," enthused Stelmanis, before she and the rest of Austra headed off for a second trek through Europe, where most of the venues had to be upgraded to accommodate ticket demand.

Austra: Icy and engaging in all the right measures. I’ll be looking forward to next time.

"Lose It." Even the vid is retro.


Terrific live-in-the-studio version of "Beat and the Pulse," on CBC’s Q, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi.


Next On Stage àMy 2012 concert-going started in style with Ottawa’s Kathleen Edwards’ triumphant, sold out homecoming show at the Bronson Centre. Touring behind her best album yet this year’s Voyageur it was replete with shirt-matching ear plugs, sad talks of non-enjoyable spankings, and songs about brushing your teeth. Double latté-loving "assholes" spotted roaming World Exchange, not included.

171. Chameleon/Comedian: Kathleen Edwards with Hannah Georgas, Bronson Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Thursday February 9, 2012.

NOTE: I am now cross-posting current (and previous) entries on my Wordpress blog.

© 2012 VariousArtists

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VA ~ I wasn't familiar with the groups you've featured here tonight so I appreciate finding out about them! More great bands to add to my list.

I am figuring all of the concert photo montages are yours and that's a nice touch in addition to your stories, ticket scans, videos, and other visuals! As always, I can appreciate how long it takes to put these posts together--I've been working over a week on my upcoming installment on the college senior year series and complicated posts always take a while to complete!
Various: Our own lovely and talented Carol Pope! Nice ... see's looking a little Ron Wood-ish these days. Didn't see her at the Rock Hall either. I'm going to read more here and try and find you and Cublet. :)
Such an amazing, interesting post. I'm most touched by your phrase: "Ahhh, the 1990s! All that fin de siècle jollity! Post and Pre the uptight and socially regressive 1980s and 2000s! Identity politics! A leftward shift!" It seems just like yesterday, yet it's a long time ago. And how perfectly kept are your tickets!
Malkmus was just here and I missed him! Now I'm even more sad about missing him.
Carole Pope- I have been looking at her videos and yes she does look like Ron Wood. At first I had trouble with the video but played around with it and thought she looked like Keith Richards then changed my mind.

BUT her voice is still fantastic. Just having her on your page made my day.

PS Palladium, er Corel Centre, er, Scotiabank Place

Now that made me laugh.. you have to be from the area to get the joke..:)
designanator: Thanks for recognizing the time it takes to put these together. Although, as I've said in one of your postings, you're so prolific and include so much ephemera and so many great photos, I don't know how you do it -- and still manage to find time to sleep!

The photos from the Malkmus show were just taken with a basic digital camera, but I was particularly pleased to nab the perfect elevated spot, just feet from the stage and right next to the bar, to boot!. Mind you, I was almost legally deaf for most of the next morning as I was not far from the main speaker cabinets.

Scarlett: I always felt as if Carole was musically channeling Joan Crawford, but I see your point about Ron Wood. Good luck trying to find Cublet and I ... I had to go frame by frame as I knew we were there.

Fusun: And thanks for such a nice comment. Yes, the more progressive 90s fade farther and farther into the past (although I think a "90s revival" is due shortly, as these revivals tend to look at 20 years past), and today so much seems dark. However, I believe that we all have to keep looking forward, hoping that things will turn more towards the light again. Although I think there will be more bad before the good. I hope I'm wrong.

Midwest Muse: Definitely see him if he comes through again/next time. It was a fun evening, and I really got the sense that everyone there had a terrific time, including the band.

Linda: Glad you got that one -- we'll share that between oursleves. I thought the Palladium was the best moniker they ever had for the place, for the whole 15 minutes it held that name. It opened almost at the exact moment when I first moved here. I so hate the renaming of buildings to appease corporate interests.

Always glad to be able to make your day, Linda. Huggggs back.
Nicely covered various and I'll second Fusun's thumbs up about the spirit of the 90s. That Carole Pope really has a stage presence.
More time travel! With deadpan humor to boot. You work hard, you play hard...or the other way around?
Abrawang: She still has it, Abra. I'll be writing about Carole and Rough Trade a few times over the course of the series. I still particularly play "Rough Trade Live!" (my personal favourite) and "Avoid Freud" all the time.

catch-22: Now that I'm writing this series, I do both at once. And deadpan humour is always a good thing.
Gotta admit, I'm a fallen away rocker. My sights are firmly on the past, having just finished Eric Clapton's autobiography and being about to dive into John Kay's. (Long live Mars Bonfire.)

But I can most certainly agree on one thing: Carole Pope is vastly under-rated. What a piece of work.

Good to see you back here, VA.
1) Thanks for bringing Carol Pope to my attention, I was completely unaware of her
2)Awesome and SO true: "Ahhh, the 1990s! All that fin de siècle jollity! Post and Pre the uptight and socially regressive 1980s and 2000s! Identity politics! A leftward shift! Indie cinema exploding! Alterna-rock, Britpop, and Electronica hit big! Cable channels make TV bearable once again!"
3) I'm sorry you missed Elastica. I was quite smitten with them in 1996.
4) Couldn't agree with you more about Beck.
5) Can't wait for the Lollapalooza '95 post (as we've discussed, I saw the NYC end of that tour - and witnessed the ugly behavior of people who would later fuel Nu Metal)
6) Rated for your unfailing concert writing awesomeness
Boanerges: Yep, Carole was way ahead of the curve. I loved her bio, Anti-Diva, from many years ago. Always great to see you here!

Chiller: 1) My pleasure. Carole/Rough Trade weren't really known down in the States but they were a big deal up here back in the day. Sort of an arch, sardonic, campy'n'kinky group of new wave Cole Porters. I'll be writing about them more indepth shortly; 2) The 90s revival is thisclose; 3) Elastica unfortunately imploded owing to too much H; 4) I'm glad to see Beck applying his brilliance in a new way, as producer; 5) Nu Metal: one of the scourges of humanity; 6) As you know, I'm a mutal fan of your insightful and witty pieces.
VA: Yes, I definitely see/feel the Joan Crawford connection. I think it's the hair, sunglasses and vertical lines on her face that have me thinking Ron Wood but she looks great. God (or whomever) Bless, Carole. High School Confidential was really, really ground-breaking but I betcha half the people singing along had no idea what the song was about.

I'm not familiar with the other bands you mention except for Beck. Always great to read your musical adventures regardless. Damn time constraints ...I know you'd rather be writing, and you're right ... couldn't find you in the crowd. (p.s. I had a "rat's tail" in those days too).
Ehhhhh ehhh EHHHHhhhh
I love being exposed to new music on your blog, VA. Carole Pope was new to me as was Austra. I've been playing the videos you embedded here as I putter about my son's apt. today while he is at work. Enjoying the hell outta both of them. Hope things are simmering down for you & yours.
Scarlett: I totally see what you mean re: Ron Wood, although she's beating him at his own game these days. As for people not getting what High School Confidential was about ... I mean, how much more blatant could she have been?

MZ: Oh my ... Anne from Little Britain strikes again with a surrealistic interjection.

lschmoopie: Glad you enjoyed the tunes. As for the simmering down ... I hope so too, but don't think we're all there yet. Thanks for the thoughts, though.
I love reading your post because it always feels like I get to go to a concert with just sitting at home. I am particularly fond of CP for i did a photo shoot with her once and she was just great. thanks for this and the videos too!
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥R
Algis: I'd love to see those pics of Carole. I've had a couple of interactions of sorts with her through the years that I'll eventually get to. Glad I could send you the live-concert vibe across the sea.