Big Thief at Massey Hall; Tuesday April 19, 2022

I first came across Big Thief thanks to a post Lucy Dacus put out there. It wasn’t this one, but you can tell what a big fan of the band she is and particularly the album Masterpiece with this top albums post.

Can’t say I’ve ever cried at a Big Thief show, but if I could time travel to the Adelaide Hall show in 2016, I may shed some tears. Like most prolific acts, I struggle to develop a connection to EVERY album that a band releases (Big Thief have released four albums since 2016’s Masterpiece). Truthfully, I just haven’t connected with any of their other albums the way I did with Masterpiece. Maybe it’s timing in life, maybe it’s not putting in the work of listening. I have a lot on the go and I just don’t listen and absorb music the way I used to, but I’m trying to again. Trying to make time for music is a really weird thought, but it’s work and homework and time, and one only has so many hours in a day.

So a bit more on this show. We met up with some friends at the Imperial prior to and scarfed down far too much mediocre food and slurped down some beers. We chuckled about how the wave of music fans flock to the Imperial – a rough gem in a less than exciting part of town, especially if you live in Toronto. Yonge and Dundas is the fake Toronto that tourists long for, it’s our Time Square – bright lights, advertisements, and the smell of urine.

We made it minutes before the band started. We decided to skip the opener as we wanted to spend time with pals over standing in crowded room longer than we needed to. Big Thief opened with their new album’s opener “Change.” My friend Dom said it was her favourite tune, I joked to her that “she peaked early”. I don’t often get opening songs as my peak or climax of a show. For instance, my peak for this show would have been “Paul” from Masterpiece. Maybe I need to start mainstreaming my peaks and putting in the work to listen to songs that are likely to be played. The last three times I’ve watched Big Thief play they did not play “Paul”. Guess there’s YouTube for that, a curated concert.

We only got a few older tunes – “Real Love” and “Not” come to mind. Most of the songs from their new and mega diverse record Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You. They ended with “Spud Infinity” – which I’ve always thought sounded like Don MacLean’s “American Pie” with it’s repetitive sound and recaps throughout. Adrianne introduced her sibling who played the jaw harp, a key characteristic of the song.

Notably the band took a 5-6 minute break, which felt like eternity. It was a bit painful and indulgent, but we all respected it. Adrianne had recently posted that concert goers should keep quite while bands are playing. I think Toronto were on great behaviour at their Massey Hall gig. I’ll add folks were mostly masked and stationary, which I appreciated as someone that’s still easing into being in rooms with 1,000+ people. The band also asked for everyone to keep their masks on with polite signs as we walked into the venue. Strangely translated to French as well.

The band also did a drawn out version of “Not”, which led to an extended slowed down jam to finish. I told Adam that it was their “Cortez the Killer.” I feel like most bands channel their Neil Young energy or at least reference Neil Young when the play Massey Hall. Toronto’s big claim to fame!

The band sounded great – Adrianne was the front person, fellow singer Buck Meek took the supporting role in every aspect – guitars, vocals. A very different feel from when I saw them play at Adelaide Hall in 2016. Mind you, at that point they were likely married, nothing like a divorce to shake up a band!

The venue was outstanding – my first general admission Massey Hall gig – the chairs fold into the floor for versatility of concert experience. I think this was the first GA Massey show. 100% would recommend.

Gush: ‘A Mermaid in Lisbon’ EP by Patrick Watson & Teresa Salgueiro

It’s been a while since I’ve wrote anything, but that’s not for lack of motivation or inspiration because I’m busy as ever even with the fun closures and slowdowns of the pandemic.

I’ve been gravitating towards Patrick Watson & Teresa Salgueiro’s EP A Mermaid in Lisbon, which first hit my ears at Patrick Watson’s Massey Hall show on Dec 15, 2021 (a mere two days before restricts on live entertainment were imposed by the Province of Ontario). More on that show soon because it truly was my favourite live music show I saw in 2021.

Gush: Buck Meek on NPR

My friend Dan recently got me onto Charley Crockett this week. This Buck Meek video I stumbled upon today is the perfect country-soaked chaser to Crockett’s shameless presentation of country.

You can probably tell I’m not a huge country music person, but I’m also not the sort of person that responds to the question “What sort of music do you listen to?” with “Everything but country and classical.”

I tend to gravitate towards pretty. Meek’s voice has the country drawl, but is so so pretty. Just what my early Saturday morning needed.

Gush: “Good Woman” by the Staves

It took a few listens, but I’ve finally realized the beauty the gorgeous details in this song. The Staves don’t need much to sound pretty, but this song is packed with energy, great production, and creative editing. Choppy “oohs” and “ahhs” that are obviously edited and clipped to give the tune more grit. The bar-like chitter chatter at 1min50sec point – resonates hard in the pandemic era.

Make belief: Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall

Welcome to the very first post of my pandemic-inspired series, make Belief. A series of things that may have happened if things weren’t the way they were. Hopefully, I don’t have to dream for more time than 2022.

This Make Belief is two fold – the memory of what was Massey Hall (now Allied Music Centre) and seeing live music. This song is so grand, like dumb Phil Spector grand. It’s lush and well-produced, but not over produced to my ears.

Many years ago, probably 2009, I last minute sold my single ticket to see Fleet Foxes at Massey Hall. I don’t regret it, but I kind of wish I had that memory now. I think I’ve only seen Fleet Foxes at a music festival, I could be wrong. Probably should check through the forthetrees archive. Another post on Fleet Foxes to come, or perhaps my aging memory.

Gush: Cigarettes After Sex

I know I’m a bit late to the party, normally I catch on to a band’s big wave before they play big venues like the Danforth Music Hall, but here I am.

I love the stillness of this song.
I love that I didn’t know the gender of the singer and didn’t care to know for the longest time.
I love that a cover of this very song was used in one of my favourite films I’ve seen in some time, Promising Young Woman

Original song, cover of the song, and trailer for the film Promising Young Woman below: