. : : November 4th, 2011 : : .
54.40 is a band with a long history. In fact, the group formed some two years before I was even born, over thirty years ago, and have been steadily releasing albums every two-to-three years ever since.
Still, I wasn’t very familiar with the band prior to their headlining spot at the WWF Fundraiser last November. Unknowingly, I knew them best through another band’s cover: my dad was a big Hootie and the Blowfish fan in the mid-90s, so their cover of 54.40’s I Go Blind is etched fairly deeply in the recesses of my subconscious. I didn’t attribute the song to the original performers until recently; and with more than a dozen albums to their name, you’d guess that I’d be at least passingly familiar with some of the band’s personal work, but going into the Glenn Gould Studio, I couldn’t name a single song.
But, I knew they were somewhat big in the Canadian music scene at one point, and it was clear from the crowd that they still had a strong, loyal following. So, in spite of the fact that my personal draw for the night, Hawksley Workman, had already performed his set, I resisted the temptation to leave early and go home, and give these ol’ Western Canada boys the ol’ college try.
In retrospect, I probably should have went home early and got an extra half hour of sleep that night.
The show was pretty forgettable; and its most memorable moment was for all the wrong reasons.
After a quick wham-bam-thankya-m’am set that only barely crossed the half-hour mark (shorter than sets by both openers, the aforementioned Hawksley Workman and Jully Black), devoid of any legitimate, believable between song banter, the band ignored the bewilderingly unjustifyably loud and enthusiastic call the crowd gave for an encore.
Granted, I don’t think a band necessarily MUST perform an encore at their sets… but when the ticket prices are SO HIGH (it was a fund raiser, after all), and the set lists are so short (less than half an hour of music, all told), you should be more than willing to give a little extra back to the fans. 54.40 never even looked like they wanted to be there in the first place, and worse, left their fans unsatisfied.
OK; that might be taking a bit of creative liberty with the situation. After all, the crowd sang along merrily to an almost nine minute version of their 1994 hit and set closer, Ocean Pearl; but you couldn’t help but feel the weight of disappointment descend on the room as waves of people began to reluctantly give up on the encore call.
All in all, a glaring mark in an otherwise fun night of music and celebration. And while I’m sure that there’s plenty of here for pre-existing 54.40 fans who have the luxury of saving the $50 ticket price and the expectation of an encore portion of the recording, I can tell you from first-hand experience that there’s absolutely nothing here that’s going to win over any new fans.
Oh, well. They can’t all be great.
02. Couldn’t Be Sorry
03. One Gun
04. I Go Blind
05. Since When
06. Casual Viewin’
08. Ocean Pearl