. : : August 28th, 2012 : : .
I get asked a lot if I’m excited for upcoming concerts. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m not that excitable, or if I’ve been to too many to feel excitement with any frequency or intensity, but the answer is almost always “no.”
I don’t feel any real sense of anticipation for a performance long before a show starts. Maybe, just maybe, once I get to the venue, or just as the band takes the stage, but days, weeks or even months before the show? I shrug, people frown in confusion, and we repeat the process next time so-and-so is in town.
So it was weird that, days before the Whitehorse show at the Dakota Tavern, I really started to look forward to the show. Heck, I even had a dream about it two nights prior! Was this the band I gave a so-so review at their debut concert at the glorious Glenn Gould Studio?
I chalk the previous disinterest up to a not-so-great seat, unfamiliarity with too much of the material, and my nervous clock-watching (I was double-booked that night). In retrospect, that performance could have been life-changing. The second time the dynamic duo were in town, they played the pretty (but pretty bad sounding) Winter Gardens Theatre, and I was suitably enthralled.
Which is maybe why it was so enticing to see the band play at the Dakota Tavern, a small bar with a capacity of 130 people — half of the GGS, where the band debuted, and almost a tenth of the latter performance!
The room is intimate, the stage even more so. The lighting is brilliant, the atmosphere, cozy and classic. Could things get any better?
Oh, yeah. And the show was FREE. Sure, they were taking donations for Melissa McClelland‘s LadyBird Animal Sanctuary — a worthy charity, if there ever was one — but the show itself was gratis.
If things sound like they’re too good to be true, well, you’re right. In true HaterHigh.com tradition, things seemed to start to fall apart rapidly.
I had to pull favours to have a work shift switched so I could be out the door at 5pm instead of my scheduled 7pm. En route, I was slowed by a couple of subway train delays — but the $50+ taxi estimation kept me underground. I arrived some 5-minutes after doors where scheduled to open, but a small line that had already formed outside of the venue looked like they weren’t going anywhere. I took my place, and for the next half-an-hour, watched guest-list member after guest-list member walk through the door. The list was as long as my arm.
A full half hour after doors were scheduled to be opened, we were informed that there were only 20 spots for non-guestlisted folks. Wow, really?! Considering this free show was plastered all over the social media sphere, I would have expected the pendulum to swing the other way. Quick calculations put me roughly twenty-fourth in line. Suddenly, I was grinding my teeth, angered by the handful of people I’d seen arrive late and join their friends at the front of the line. It didn’t seem like such a crime when I was sure to get in — but when I was less than a nuclear family away from being locked out?!
I wasn’t happy.
The second hands were agonizing to watch, and 7pm came and went, and still, no movement. The kind, smiling faces in charge of doors eventually caved, and let another batch of ten of us in. How many more followed afterwards, I couldn’t say — but I’d guess not many at all.
So exclusive was this entrance, that Melissa and husband/band mate Luke Doucet took kind pity on the unfortunate exclusions, and performed a short, impromptu set on the city streets for those who wouldn’t be admitted in.
Although I must admit a pang of regret to have missed such a cool performance, I was quickly rewarded with a generous 75-minute set of new and old favourites in one of the city’s best venues.
You didn’t think the infamous HaterHigh bad luck ended there, did you?
This was the first show I’d been to in weeks. Two month’s worth of weeks, in fact, and as I pulled my gear from my backpack, I realized I forgot to unplug my microphone from my recorder after my previous show. The mic battery was deader than dead. It was an unusual type of battery — not one carried by any local convenience store, even if I wanted to try my luck and jet out quickly, hoping for re-admittance. I couldn’t let this unique show go untaped, so I had to improvise. I used the internal mics on the recorder, which I shoved into my breast pocket. It wasn’t as elevated as I normally like my mics, which was sure to be problematic when I was already so far away from the speakers and shoulder to shoulder with everyone else in the room, but it would have to do.
This isn’t the brilliant, wonderful recording of Whitehorse I expected / wanted out of a probably once-in-a-lifetime Dakota Tavern show. Punctuating the poor positioning and the lack of external microphones was the real problem of the night: the room was filled with press and industry types who were more interested in screaming their conversations over the performance. All said, by some divine intervention, the recording is still very, very listenable. Especially when the instruments are loud enough to (mostly) drown out the ridiculous chatter.
01. Killing Time Is Murder
03. No Glamour in the Hammer
05. Achilles’ Desire
07. Passenger 24
11. Emerald Isle
13. Mismatched Eyes (Boat Song)
14. Devil’s Got A Gun
16. Mexico Texaco
20. I’m On Fire [Springsteen]
21. Gun Street Girl [Waits]