. : : February 20th, 2013 : : .
I got off work at 6 — still hours before the doors were set to open for Wakey!Wakey!‘s set, but not enough time to bother going home first — so to the Drake Underground I went. I killed time at the local pizza place, but when I headed into the venue shortly after the door time, I was stopped by security. Unusual for the friendly always-open-door Drake; more unusual, even though doors were scheduled to be opened, they wouldn’t be letting anybody for another half of an hour. Too embarrassed to go back into the pizza place to stay warm in the freezing cold, I instead turned into a sub sandwich chain, where I ordered a drink and watched the snow fall outside. Nearly an hour after does were scheduled to open, I was finally allowed to entered the Drake. An auspicious start to a ill-fated night.
Wakey!Wakey!, the band that couldn’t have brought out more than 30 fans the last time they played the venue, never made it to their first sold out Toronto show.
A huge pile up on the highway stopped traffic both ways a little east of the city, and after a subdued performance from opener Emilie Mover, we were informed Michael Grubbs would not be able to make the show. A room full of fans stood dumbstruck as we were informed this was not a cruel joke, and refunds were available at the point of purchase.
A make up date the following month was quickly issued, as was a promise of an extra special set of music to compensate for the inconvenience. If the previous “special” tour kickoff show at the Drake was any indication, we were undoubtedly in for a memorable treat.
So, back to the Drake I headed, some four weeks later.
Again, I was stopped by security. Sure, I was some ten minutes early — but that was never a problem at the Drake before. What was this lock down? A crowd of fans quickly began to gather around, and we chatted amicably to pass the time and distract from the February chill. I’d be lying if a frighting wave of deja vu didn’t wash over me.
When Grubbs took the stage, the few of us who had been booted out of the prior month breathed a sigh of relief. The room was dead quiet as he opened the night with a solemn and clearly sincere apology for missing the previous gig. Fans of Wakey!Wakey! knew this straight-faced seriousness was atypical of the fun-loving singer/songwriter, giving it additional gravity. But the straight-faced seriousness was short-lived, and it wasn’t long before Grubbs was telling jokes, teasing Katy Perry songs, and treating the Drake Hotel to an all-around good time.
Grubbs announced in the closing minutes of the set that a record was broken for the longest Wakey!Wakey! set in the history of the band’s existence — and clocking in at over two hours, it was easy to believe the feat. The mini-tour was clearly designed to road test a collection of new material and inspire more still as much of the set list was comprised of unreleased tracks, some only a few days old! Although fresh material such as Wake Up (Lily I Love You) and Irresistible were infectious ear worms, it was generally songs culled from his debut LP Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said The Last Time I Saw You that elicited the most response from the large, mostly female crowd. For example, shortly after the set opener, Brooklyn‘s ominous introductory chord, you can hear an audible gasp of excitement.
50% longer than other setlists performed on the tour, it’s hard to imagine Grubbs let anyone in the audience down. I was let down, however, by my Edirol recorder, which randomly decided to shut off mid-recording. I’m not sure exactly but happened, but looking down to check the levels three-quarters of an hour into the set, I noticed the device was off. The batteries were fresh, the hold button was toggled on (so I couldn’t have accidentally shut it off in my pocket) and, as I discovered when I got home, the first twenty or so minutes of the night survived, but the WAV file was corrupted. I was only able to salvage it by converting it to 16-bit at 44.1khz — it was nothing but static at it’s native 24/96 — but the middle portion was just missing.
I wish I remembered what songs were missed. Definitively, I can only say Wake Up (Lily I Love You) with any certainty, but I believe there were two or three others, among another thread or two of Mike’s well-established between song banter.
Otherwise, the recording turned out quite nicely (if, perhaps, not QUITE as nice as his previous visit to the Drake), and littered with previews and snippets of new songs destined for his sophomore LP, there’s still a lot to love about this recording, in spite of the big gaping hole in the middle of it all.
EDIT: The .txt file in the MP3 archive has incorrect and missing song titles. Please download the .txt file separately, and replace the one with mislabeled songs. Thanks.
> Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) [Katy Perry] [tease]
04. Young Love
05. Square Peg Round Hole [cut]
06. Twenty-Two [cut]
07. [new song]
09. Cave Paintings
10. Take It Like A Man
12. I Like You
13. 1876 – The Brooklyn Theatre Fire
15. War Sweater
> Teenage Dream [Katy Perry] [tease]
17. Talk, Talk, Talk
19. Dance So Good
> Almost Everything …
22. All It Takes Is A Little Love
24. [new song]
> Don’t You Want Me [the Human League] [tease]
28. Light Outside