. : : March 29th, 2010 : : .
As a taper, it’s customary for me to arrive at a venue fairly early. Not long after the doors open, I’m usually inside the venue finding a good spot that will afford me decent sight lines and ensuring superior sound (for both my ears and my microphones). I take the time to put on my mics, install fresh batteries, wipe the tape, set the levels, etc. I’ve usually settled in position while most patrons are still lingering at the bar or mulling over the merch stand. As I usually attend concerts alone, this is a routine that’s usually fairly easy to pull off.
However, when I attend with friends and family members, things run less than smooth. Someone may get off of work late, get stuck in traffic, need extra time to change or eat. I may meet someone at a bar or restaurant and, before you know it, get stuck waiting for them to finish their drinks and pay their cheques. It’s not unusual on such nights that I catch only part of the opening act’s set, if I see any at all. It’s even more common that I don’t have time to execute my routine and tape the opening acts. Because of this, I usually don’t get into the habit of researching the opening band’s material if they’re not already familiar to me. Which is why it was weird that on the afternoon of March 29th, 2010, I ended up clicking on a link to Dawn Landes‘ MySpace page.
I don’t remember how or why I ended up there, but I knew within seconds of hearing the first stanza of Straight Lines that I would be sure to tape Dawn’s set. In spite of the fact that I was attending the night’s festivities with a group of friends significantly larger than usual, we made it into Lee’s Palace early. It was the first time I’ve been to the venue since the iconic mural that made up a generous portion of the front of Lee’s was converted into a fast food restaurant. I was less than impressed, although I’m sure they do good business and the deal helped broker a longer life for a great venue in a time they seem to be dropping off the map left, right and centre. I digress.
We got there in time for Dawn Landes set, and I couldn’t be more thankful. Her music was catchy, her voice beautiful, her banter charming. I was smitten. She reminds me of the wonderful local roots singer, Kathleen Edwards, and I cannot fathom a higher praise. Unlike Nada Surf‘s later headlining set, the sound was unfortunately inconsistent. It started off quiet and, at times, meandered off into a muddiness uncharacteristic of Lee’s Palace. For the most part, it was more than serviceable and didn’t detract from the band’s engaging performance — Dawn’s first north of the border. One notable highlight was watching the drummer simultaneously perform the bass drum, bass guitar and a string of sleigh bells! Yikes!
Anyhow, I’ve continued to familiarize myself with more of Dawn’s studio work since picking up a couple of her albums after the show, and I anxiously look forward to her triumphant return to Toronto.
The tape itself turned out a bit so-so. Everything’s clear, but a bit distant sounding — which is weird, because I was actually leaning against the right speaker stacks. The volume fluctuates as per the venue; this is especially noticeable when Dawn trades her acoustic guitar for an electric. Otherwise, a great show that I am more than happy to share with you.
- Straight Lines
- I Don’t Need No Man [traditional]
- Wandering Eyes
- Little Miss Holiday
- Money In The Bank
- Kissing Song
- Picture Show
- Young Girl
- Touts Les Garcons Et Les Filles
Thanks to Dawn Landes, Nada Surf and, as always, the staff of Lee’s Palace. 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.