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Music

Constantines, etc. @ Club Lambi, 29/03

Posted by John / March 30, 2007

20070330_cons.jpgBry Webb of the Constantines

To earn the rock cliché "hard-working" or any of its synonyms (e.g., blue-collar, working-class, Springsteen-like), one really only needs a plaid shirt that buttons with snaps and the ability sing in a gravelly voice, eyes closed, and sweat a lot. Do these things and the adjectives will come.

I propose an alternative usage of these words, based upon the Montreal/Toronto/Guelph band the Constantines (who, conveniently, or maybe confusingly, also wear shirts with snaps and favour gravelly voices and sweating) and employed to emphasize the job-like nature of the band's performance. Another synonym might be "professional."

This new usage acknowledges that the band was loud and, unsurprisingly, dead-on musically. But it also describes a band that plows through each song with very few notes different from the last time they played them, each also with an eerily identical tempo. Minimal banter between songs. A few new songs that sounded as polished and flawless as their standards. A final encore, an unironic cover of AC/DC's Thunderstruck, that varied from the original only in that Bry Webb's voice is considerably less gravelly than Brian Johnson's. Audience pummelled, job done.

20070330_shotgun.jpgThe musical looseness decreased as the night went on (and I'm not saying un-looseness is a bad thing--I'm just saying) at the stiflingly hot Club Lambi, which was crammed like a Tokyo subway car.

The openers, Shotgun & Jaybird (shown at right, and sans Julie Doiron on this trip, sadly), are gangly and eager, physically and musically, and their songs frequently seem like they could crumble into two dudes gleefully hammering at their guitar strings. I like everything about this band: their chunky riffs, their simple, occasionally poetic lyrics, their slightly-off-key vocals, their indifference to their slightly-off-key vocals.

If you want professional and loose, Jon-Rae and the River (singer Jon-Rae shown below) might be the answer. I ran into MP contributor Matt Silver just before this band went on, and he promised me I would agree with everything he had written in a review of a previous show. I'm going to put the link in (and read it) after I finish writing this, but I seem to recall Matt describing an almost religious experience. That didn't quite happen for me, probably because I was slightly absorbed by the free Pringles at the bar.

But I was riveted by the intensity of their songs -- haunted blues and warped takes on traditionals, all fed through a rock n' roll filter. It was probably too loud for anyone in the crowd to engage in the usual Montreal during-performance small talk, but I doubt anyone would have anyway.

20070330_jon-rae.jpg

Discussion

7 Comments

Chip / March 30, 2007 at 12:26 pm
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Free pringles and good show? Damn. Sorry i missed it.
Trixie / March 31, 2007 at 01:39 am
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Nice delineation/adaptation of the very recognizable "hard-working" band thing. One small point: about the "shirt that buttons with snaps"--don't shirts generally button with buttons and snap with snaps?
J Mac / March 31, 2007 at 02:27 am
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I dunno. We say "button up a shirt," but I don't think we say "snap up a shirt." Wow, the word "snaps" doesn't even seem real to me right now. Let's just go with the more generic "do up," how about?
Trixie / March 31, 2007 at 04:58 pm
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Snaps. Snaps. Snaps. Man, you're right. Very defamiliarizing.
I'm just in this mode because I also recently wrote about shirt snaps, in relation to the Sebadoh show. What would indie bands be without their snappy shirts? God bless 'em.
rrrobyn / April 4, 2007 at 04:36 pm
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dudes
fastens with snaps
a plaid shirt that snaps up
SNAP

i haven't been to lambi in ages precisely b/c it is so sweltering in there. also b/c i now live in the ocean.

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