Last night something truly odd happened- I left my house and went out to a show by a band that I'd always felt a massive, yawning apathy toward at a venue that I have never been terribly wild about. I have a feeling a lot of people feel this way about both as well, so let's just get the ugliness out of the way- I went to see Sloan's two-and-a-half hour show at Subterranean. They played all of their classic album that I've never heard 'Twice Removed.' During my courting phase with Stefanie she made me a copy 'One Chord to Another' after we went to see 'The Virgin Suicides' as our first date movie (go ahead and bask in the irony- I am). The album kind of confused me. It was made up of tightly-constructed, retro-sounding songs. It wore its heart on its sleeve. They didn't care about being cool, they just seemed to care about writing songs that they loved and that others would (hopefully) love as well. Plus, they were so damned Canadian with their earnestness and admiration of American and British music. It didn't really rope the 21 year-old me in, I have to admit.
Fast-forward to last night. On a lark Stefanie asked if I would like to go and, while at work, I said, 'Yes.' Once we walked in the door I saw a sign that read 'An evening with SLOAN 9:00- 11:30.' My terror at having to sit through a two and-a-half hour set by a band I didn't really care about filled me. Then they started playing 'Twice Removed' in order and announced after the second song that they were going to take a brief break after playing the entire record and then come back to play a 'party set.' One of my great beefs with Subterranean is similar to that of the Metro's- louder does not always= better. At least not if you have a cheap and shitty sound system (which both do). What's more the place smelled like a fucking toilet the entire night. No exaggeration. An odd thing happened when Sloan took the stage- the sound was subdued in volume. Their live sound was air-tight. They used vintage instruments and amps more effectively than most bands I've seen (possibly more effectively than even the Brian Jonestown Massacre) and didn't use the same stuff that most 'cool-dudes-playing-vintage-shit-you-could-never-afford-in-a-million-years' play. They all sang. They all switched instruments (except for the lead guitarist on stage left). Their harmonies were perfect. They switched styles on a dime with not a single visual cue. How many 90s bands can this be said about? FUCKING NONE THAT'S HOW MANY!
I feel safe in intimating these truths as this was a band I had NEVER claimed to like for many, many years. I can't even begin to explain how completely they won me over in a miserably crowded room that I loathe that smelled like a sewer. Plus, these were SONGS. One can see a million hot-shit young-dude bands, but rarely do they have a fraction of the volume of fantastically-crafted songs as were on display here. This show could've gone on all night and it would've been riveting. They lightly cajoled the audience into clapping and singing along and it wasn't cheesy or annoying in the least. Maybe the Canadians can teach US something about music after all. I certainly learned my lesson. Bless Sloan for being such a top-tier band with almost no recognition. I am now one of their biggest devotees and I walked into the doors with such a huge chip on my jaded, old, grumpy bastard shoulders. I hope they read this review because I mean every fucking word of it!