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Rocky Votolato @ El Mocambo

. : : September 29th, 2007 : : .

There are nights when things just don’t go right for tapers. For example, I’ve suffered from cheap batteries from the local convenience store that wouldn’t keep the recorder powered long enough to tape an entire song. I’ve had microphones come unplugged or rub against my clothing for the whole set. I’ve brought the wrong cables, or brought the right cables but forget the tape. I’ve ended up beside the loudest, drunkest, most obnoxious frat boy in the venue, but packed like a sardine, unable to move. I’ve had a 60-minute set mysteriously erased from a tape while I changed the battery on the device.

Some nights, you can even mix and match SEVERAL of such bad circumstances. One such night occurred in September of 2007. Rocky Votolato had come to town to promote his latest offering at the time, The Brag and Cuss at the minuscule but legendary El Mocambo venue. It had been four years since the indie-folk singer/songwriter brought his live show to Toronto, and in the meantime I had discovered Makers, one of my all-time favourite records. I was so looking forward to seeing Rocky, I even sent him an e-mail begging him to book a show in Ontario — I was willing to travel to any reasonable major city to see him. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it across the border until the release of his aforementioned follow-up disc, which had only served to strengthen my anticipation for the night.

The opening act for the night, Portugal. The Man, were on their second Toronto date in only a handful of months. They absolutely blew me away with a criminally under-attended headlining show in the late spring (or was it early summer?) at  The Reverb which served as my discovery of the band. More on their performance will eventually posted here, once their recording is uploaded — but suffice it to say, the bill was stacked and I hadn’t been so excited for a concert in a long time.

I picked my spot near the right wall, some 30 feet back. I checked my mics, set my volume, and then enjoyed hearing live interpretations of some of my favourite songs while introducing me to some favourites of his catalog prior to the release of Makers — which I had not yet exposed myself to. As the night winded down, so did my battery. Luckily, it lasted until the encore break; not so luckily, during the battery exchange, the first hour or more of the tape just vanished. I was devastated: the recordings of some of my favourite songs were lost forever. Worse: when I got home, I found out that the sound quality was among the best-to-date for me, and it would have been a great, enjoyable tape.

As it is, the four song solo-performed encore survived the night, but the bulk of the performance would be left to the faulty media known as memory. What little I have to show for the night is exemplary of what an enjoyable evening was had, and for that I am thankful.

  1. -encore-
  2. Tinfoil Hat
  3. Silver Tree
  4. Mixtapes, Cellmates
  5. Makers

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Tinfoil Hat (Live In Toronto) [MP3 sample]


Thanks to Rocky Votolato, Portugal. The Man, Barsuk Records and the everyone at the El Mocambo. Please download and distribute this recording freely, and support the bands by buying their albums, merchandise and concert tickets when they perform in your town.

Published inLive Recordings

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