Anders Bergstrom's blog on Words, Films, and Music

Monday, October 10, 2005

It's time for a massive update. And a wish to all of you whom I haven't personally talked to, a very happy Thanksgiving weekend. Here's to a shortened work week of eating turkey sandwiches. On this Thanksgiving Monday afternoon I decided I really need to update the blog: a time for reflection, perhaps? Or maybe I'll just give the narrative. Living in Victoria, I'm close to two major cities (Vancouver and Seattle) and it means that there are a lot of good concerts. Also, how could I live here without exploring those cities a little bit? Well, that's exactly what I did this past week and half.


It's been a very busy couple of weeks. School in particular is getting very busy. I find myself swamped with readings and writings and weekly presentations for my Literary Computing class. But one cannot live on work alone, so in the name of unwinding and doing something fun, I jumped at the opportunity to see Franz Ferdinand on the Oct. 1st weekend at Seattle's gorgeous Paramount Theatre.

Of course the trip to Seattle was more than merely a hop on a bus and jaunt down the street (though it did involve both of those activities). Because of the nature of living on an island, one has to find a way to cross the body of water that separates us from the mainland. Lesley Matheson, whom many of you know, (but who still hasn't sent me the photos from the concert!) came with me as she's even more of a music nut than I am. We caught the Victoria Clipper ferry from the downtown harbour on Friday afternoon, and had a comfortable and speedy ferry ride directly to downtown Seattle. Conveniently, the Hostel International, where we stayed, was only a few blocks from Pier 69. We found it with minimal trouble and found our room to be clean and comfortable. As a spoiled brat I've never had the hostel experience before (I stay in hotels), but this time on a student budget, it made sense and it ended up being a lot of fun.

The concert was Saturday night, so we had to find things to do in Seattle on the Saturday. One exciting part of the trip was that I had the opportunity to meet Jeffrey Overstreet, whom I have participated on message boards with, but not had the chance to meet in person. Jeffrey knew a great coffee place and amazing bookstore as well, and we also explored the Pike Place Market as well. Seattle is a great place to visit as there seems to be no shortage of cool places to shop, cool places to drink, and cool concerts to see. In short: it's cool.

I mentioned that the Hostel International ended up being a lot of fun. Specifically, we found out that two of the other people staying in the hostel were also going to the Franz Ferdinand concert that evening: Tracy, from Vancouver, and her boyfriend Keith, from Sydney, Australia. We ended up going for dinner with them before and having a few drinks as well. And then we went to the concert with them as well. That's something that would never happen in a hotel (as opposed to a "hostel" - the "s" is very important). There's something about a community of travelers that seems to open itself to that kind of fast friendship making.

Now for the concert; I know that's what you've all been waiting for. The opening bands were Cut Copy and TV On The Radio, both of whom were unfamiliar to me. But Franz was the real attraction of the concert. The lower level of the concert hall (where the tables are in the above photo) was all cleared out for the audience, so the crowd (at least the standing crowd) was reading to dance! The lights dimmed, and then they busted out the opening number from the new album "The Fallen." It was a great opener and the guys were all in top form, energetic and dynamic, especially lead-singer Alex Kapranos. They then segued into "The Dark of the Matinee." Then they followed it up with another new song, the catchy single "Do You Want To." The crowd was then fully in their hands, as they unleashed their number one hit. "Take Me Out" was a homerun. The crowd went insane. As soon as the opening guitars were heard, even those casual Franz Ferdinand fans were excited. That was what we were there for. And it was worth it. They played a fairly long set, going through mostly their old album, but with a few tracks from the new one ("Walk Away" was a stand out). They closed with "Michael" (perhaps one of the most playfully ambiguous pop songs of all time) but then came back to an encore performance of "This Fire" as the drummer from one of the other bands came out and joined Paul on the drums, in a whirlwind drum duel that was fantastic to watch and really left the audience on a high.

The ferry ride the next morning was early, but we made it. Seattle had been a good experience, and I was a little sad that I had to go back and face the daunting reality of grad school once again. Little did I know that the fun wasn't over just yet.


Wednesday night rolled around. I had a monster of a reading to finish up for my Chaucer and Middle Scots poetry class. I was listening to The Arcade Fire's album, Funeral, as I also chatted with my friend Meghann on MSN Messenger (the bane of my productive existence - MSN, not Meghann). I mentioned that I was listening to the album, in part because many of my friend's back home had seen The Arcade Fire in Saskatoon the previous weekend (as I was enjoying Franz Ferdinand in Seattle). Everyone had said what a great performance it was. On a whim I checked the band's website and discovered that the were actually playing the final show of their tour in Vancouver that coming Friday night (less than two days away!). I mentioned this to Meghann, assuming that the show would long have been sold out, as it was in Saskatoon. Meghann soon popped back saying that she had found tickets to the show if we wanted them! It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I said yes, figuring the logistics would take care of themselves. So, with two days notice, after having just been to Seattle the weekend before, I had committed myself to going to Vancouver to see another show that I was very excited for. Like I said earlier: spoiled.

Things have a way of just working out it seems. You know that part in Shakespeare In Love where Fennyman (Tom Wilkinson) and Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) are concerned about the fate of their play?

Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.

Well that is sort of the way things always seem to work out for me. I knew I was going to the show on Friday night in Vancouver, but I still didn't know where I was going to be staying. Meghann mentioned that there was a hostel downtown, but we didn't have a reservation or anything. I mentioned in passing to my friend Percy that we were going and he reminded me that it was Thanksgiving weekend and that he would be going home to Vancouver to see his folks, and that it would likely be no problem for us to stay there that Friday night. Percy's serendipitous hospitality turned out to be the perfect thing. I got his home phone number, and we agreed that we would stop by his house on the way to concert Friday evening.

Of course it couldn't all be that easy. Friday after class, I raced to the bus and Meghann, her friend Erin, visiting from Ontario, and Jag, one of our grad student compatriots jumped on the bus and made our way to the ferry crossing. The ferry trip was great and within a few hours we were downtown in Vancouver. At the train station, I decided that I needed to check a map to find Percy's house. I proceeded to look up the street and then direct my friends to board a Skytrain and ended up in New Westminster, where I was convinced that Percy's house lay (Trivia: It also happens to be the place of my birth!) After a fruitless search, I called Percy, who politely informed me that they didn't live on that particular numbered street in New Westminster, but rather the same numbered street in West Vancouver...a good distance away in another municipality. Someone had neglected to tell me that the maps had all their listings divided up by municipality and I hadn't paid enough attention to the index. Embarassment and a speedy 45 min cab ride got us to Percy's to drop off our stuff and make our way to the PNE Forum.

Fortunately for us, the first band didn't start playing until 8 pm, so we didn't arrive late and even got pretty good seats. The opening act was Belle Orchestre, a side project of The Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry. They were interesting and actually quite solid. The second act, whom Meghann was a fan of, Wolf Parade, put on a decent performance but the real show didn't begin until The Arcade Fire took the stage.

The opener was the opening track of Funeral, "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" and it was amazing! This is a band who knows how to perform. The various members of the band all took turns playing different instruments, and Win Butler's vocals were perfect. If there was ever an example of a band who really uses the live performance to give the audience something different from what they get on the CD, this is it. Whether it is the rock star antics of Win (smashing his guitar) or the vaguely creepy dancing of Regine (Are you a robot?) or even the fantastic stage set, complete with lamps which make it feel like they're playing in your living room, or the way the percussion wailed on motorcycle helmets at one point, these guys and gals gave one of the most fantastic live performances I've ever seen. They played most of their album, and also a couple older songs including the fantastic "Headlights Look Like Diamonds" from their self-titled EP. Other highlights included the live performance of
"Une Annee Sans Lumiere" and "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)." The band ended up doing two encores. The first was the much anticipated "Wake Up," where they also brought on stage all the other bands from earlier in the evening and even a few audience members as well. However, for the second encore Win came on stage and said "Well, we've run out of stuff to play, so we'll just play something by New Order." It was a fantastic conclusion to the evening, and the band picked up their instruments (as I hear they have done in both Seattle and Saskatoon, my friends tell me) and move out with the audience, playing acoustically as they led us out into the evening. It was definitely one of the concert going highlights of my life.


We made it back safely from Vancouver, thanks to Percy's hospitality and the excellent Greater Vancouver Transit System. The Thanksgiving weekend proved to be a lot of fun, and not a let down at all. It all helped to ease the pain of missing my mom's fantastic cooking and the company of my brother's and uncle David. Of course, there are other things that happened over the past week, but I think I've written enough for the moment. Maybe when another long weekend comes along you'll get another monster post like this, but don't hold your breath.


Meghann said...

Firstly, I would like to point out that these beautiful pictures of the Arcade Fire are from me. Secondly, it was the best concert ever. Not that I've been to many, but if Anders says it was a great concert then I am inclined to believe him. Anyway, I had something else to say but I've forgotten. I'll end by saying that spontaneous trips to Vancouver are the best, and Anders is one of the most amazing Eye Toy disco dancers I've ever met (though, not that I know many, or any at all actually), but navigating he has to work on a bit!

Danny said...

Well, I don't know much about Eye Toy disco dancing, but I know Anders can play a mean air guitar.

Meghann said...

Anders, you've been holding out on us. You're going to have to prove Danny right the next time I see you!

Meghann said...

Hey, I just read this again... you were born at Percy's house?

Luke said...

Hey man, sounds like an awsome time, I am truly envious. Anton played the new Franz Ferdinan record for me at poker on monday night. It sounds great. Aren forgot to do some drawing homework, that night so he was doing it all in an hour. I got to see his work, it was impressive. He can really do a good blind contour. Well i'll be picking up my comics today, but it won't be the same with out you. Sidenote: I picked up the Goon a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it.
Oh one more thing. Your mom was asking me what an "Eye Toy Diso Dancer" was. You may wwant to explain that one to her.

Anders said...

Ok mom: Eye Toy is this accessory for the Playstation 2, that's basically a camera that picks up your movements and lets you play games using your arms and body. It's a great party game. Brad had all these mini-games for this accesory and disco dancing was one of them.

Meghann said...

Sorry Mrs. Bergstrom! I should have clarified what Eye Toy was for everyone. Anders did a good job of explaining it and it's really fun to watch people play! Especially if you can't see the tv and can only see them dancing around in the living room!

Peter T Chattaway said...

Glad you like our transit system. :)

erinped said...

I thought your ghost flicking skills were far superior to your disco dancing skills...

Sean said...

Wow, I finally had time to sit down and read this. Sounds like quite an adventure. I didn't realize you were in a hostel. I've never stayed in one before either. Did they have you do any chores?