Let me start by saying I’m not a runner. Never really enjoyed it, never was particularly good at it. But I am someone who’s focused on continuous improvement. So I’m going to lay out how I went from non-runner to completing a marathon in about 6 months.
Last year when I ran the Spartan Sprint, I felt okay with my performance in the obstacles but knew I needed to raise my game when it came to the running. As a bit of a casual data nerd, I knew that having a routine that could be measured and provide structure would work best for me. So come late-March of this year, I was starting to cast about for a training regime that would improve my 5k+ time for my race in June. My thinking was if I could work up to about 10k in endurance and get my intensity/speed up for 5-7k anaerobic runs, I’d be in good shape.
It was about this time I came across a copy of The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer. It laid out a pretty solid plan to get people to cross the finish line. Written by academics in a pretty layperson style, the program seemed very achievable with no extraordinary measures. I like plans like this, straightforward with a high-rate of success, as long as you execute. I figured I’d just modify the plan, cutting 4 months to train for 42.2k on the road to 5-7k off-road, with obstacles. Essentially doing the first 4 weeks of training over 8 weeks, including the tapering for race day.
But then I thought, you know, why not just train for and run a marathon?
Doing a quick Google, there were two prominent marathons in Toronto, one in May and another in October. Clearly, I wasn’t going to train for and run a marathon in a month (because that’s ridiculous) but October very nicely lined up 16 weeks after my other race (and seemed, on the face of it, slightly less ridiculous).
The training program is focused very much on someone completing a marathon, not necessarily achieving their best result. And this makes sense for non-runners. Why spend four months training to hit some goal and then miss it by a couple minutes and feel like a failure? Going from non-runner to marathon finisher should be all win.
The basic level of athleticism required at the start of the program is the ability to jog continuously for 30min, regardless of speed/distance. My first run of the year (in January) was 3k in 15:30 and before starting my Spartan running training I was doing 5-7k runs in about the 23-37 minute range. Prior to April, I don’t think I actually ran continuously for 30min in the past few years before running Spartan training but the extra two months of training meant I had a pretty good foundation to build on. (My longest Spartan training run was 13k in 1:11:56.)
The authors mention they only had 1 person ever not complete a marathon, and that was a result of the individual not properly hydrating during the race. So it was always pretty clear that I would indeed finish, if I could get through the training. That actually became more challenging then I expected. Between the gym and 4 runs, I was putting in about 12-15 hours a week training. Finding that much time in my schedule is hard. Additionally, as training started ramping up in September, it became harder to move days around, since it threw off my entire week. So I had to say no to more and more things and eventually pay more attention to diet/sleep the night before — though that was generally only before the long run of the week.
My partner had noted this as being the biggest challenge before I started training, and while I knew I was in for a big commitment, I don’t think I realized quite how big. I also think she didn’t quite realize how much success I was having. One day in August, she asked me if it didn’t make sense to train instead for a half-marathon and I casually remarked that I’d already run one each of the previous couple weeks (for my long training run) and she was shocked. Though I did earn a cookie after my next run! I gotta say, having someone so supportive (and understanding) with all the time and effort I was putting in made things a lot easier.
I ended up with perhaps my worst training injury (a twisted knee) during the tapering period, which resulted in very limited mileage the final couple weeks before the race. The first time I ran my knee screamed at me for the first 500m of an 8k run and it took about 2-3k to really feel okay. And it stiffened up like nobody’s business that night. The second 8k I tried to do only really hurt for the first 150m, so better but still did not feel good the next day. Although the training regime really emphasized not to think about time, my data had suggested I was looking at about a 4:15:00 finish time with a realistic stretch goal of just breaking four hours. With the knee injury, I really just focused on wanting to finish the race and being okay if I needed to walk or rest.
When out on the course, it was fine while running but when I slowed/stopped to eat (read: choke down some energy gels), it was agony for the first 30m or so until I got back up to pace. But I just kept to my race and made sure not to push myself too hard. When I hit the 33k mark, I knew that I was going to finish. The longest training run I did was 30k (twice) and the book repeatedly said, if you can run 30k, you can do 42.2. The foundation was there and unless my knee completely seized (and I only had one last gel left), I could definitely cross. And my pace –surprisingly — was pretty much where I was expecting it to be, pre-injury.
As the final kilometres started ticking down, I realized my sustained pace was actually much faster than I had expected — there had been no drop off. The tapering and extra time off had done their work and my legs were feeling (relatively) strong and, because of my well-planned frequent eating, I wasn’t hitting ‘the wall’. Although I’d only used it a few times during the race, I started mentally chanting my running mantra.
This was one of the many mental exercises Whitsett, Dolgener, and Kole recommended in their book and I did use somewhat regularly in my long training runs. They gave some suggestions and I took some pieces from the examples, while also making it distinctly mine.
I am a marathoner. My legs are strong and my stride is smooth. I love to run long distances and I always feel great at the end. I run four days a week and never miss a run. My form is fluid and I am awesome. I am a marathoner.
The final couple of kilometres really pushed my body to its endurance. By the time I got to the 40k marker, my knee was starting to throb a bit but I could push through. As I hit 41k, I increased my pace and at about 41.9k I started to sprint. Or, rather sprint as much I could, after running for almost 4 hours straight. And with that last bit of effort, I was able to cross the finish line in 3:43:48!
Crossing the finish line!
So I pretty much shattered my goal. It’s not Boston qualifying time (which is 3:15:00 for my category) but was remarkably fast for someone who had never done a road race longer than a 5k Terry Fox-type run. And that in itself tends to shock people. Most people work up to half-marathons before attempting the full distance, if ever. I just jumped right to the end goal. For those folks, apparently 4 hours is a common time to shoot for, so coming in well under was a nice feather. I finished 984th out of 3599 finishers (3655 starters), which was in the top 27%. I was also in the top 34% for men and top 39% for my age category, beating the average and median for all categories.
2013 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon Results
As I noted at the outset of this post, I’ve never considered myself a runner. And throughout my training, I always assumed this would be my first and only marathon. I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve it. But all those kilometres and my strong finishing time makes me wonder. If this was what I could do training just to finish, what could I accomplish if I set out to run my strongest marathon race?
I probably won’t look to do a full marathon next year, it’s just too much of a training commitment. Although I’m exploring running the Spartan Beast (20k+) in 2014, in addition to the Spartan Sprint as part of a team. And I’d be up for doing a half-marathon at next year’s TWM. But the year after that? Maybe a destination race one day? Who knows…
July 13th, 2013 · Comments Off
Over the years, I’ve referenced Procrastination Dance Party quite a bit. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of. And while I can’t take any credit for the cool factor, I was responsible for the bulk of the administration of PDP — especially after the first couple .
For a while I did harbour thoughts of doing more PDP exchanges, whether all digital or some other format. But I just don’t have the desire or passion to put in the work of organizing PDP 12. Even thoughts of coordinating a new exchange through Rdio haven’t really been acted on. It’s actually probably a good thing; after all, now that PDP is no longer, I can romanticize everything about it and fondly recall the gatherings. I can forget the (surprisingly) few no-shows and the hassles of dealing with late participants. I was a little, uh, er, intense was a word used to describe me one time but that’s probably because running PDP was something akin to wrangling kittens at times.
I’ve listened to all the mixes a minimum of 5 times, with many of my favourites waaaaay more. I’ve also listened to them in lots of different orders (by PDP, by artist, currently alphabetically by album title). The actual exchanges were some of my most memorable experiences, when people who often didn’t know each other except the twice year gathering for PDP would mingle to discuss music. Some people would look over playlists to see what their favourite PDPer had put on the current mix or perhaps to see if anyone else was digging the same band as they had put on. I was largely unique in that I didn’t want to have any prior knowledge until I got to listen to the mix the whole way through. But I did enjoy chatting with people about their previous efforts, how they went about putting together a playlist, and music in general.
The real point of this post is for me to actually have a convenient place somewhere to have some of the various PDP numbers. So here they are:
Total exchanges: 11 PDPs, with two official side trades (9.5/11.5), so 13 total. (For the numbers below, official side trade stats are included with the main numbers. Unofficial side trades, those I did alone with friends or PDPers not participating in the full exchange, are separated out.)
Total Participants: 58: 56 official PDPers, plus 2 side traders that never exchanged with anyone but me.
Total Locales: Canada (BC, AB, ON, QC, NL); US; UK.
Total Mixes I have: 174: 165, including 1 limited edition; 9 side trades*. (Ryan’s side trade for PDP11 on Rdio not included, since I don’t have it in iTunes.)
5 most prolific PDPers, after me: Mojgan (10); Matt K (8); Brandden (8); Steve (7); Monique (7).
Total PDP time: 2911 songs, 7:23:49:00 for official trades; 3057 songs, 8:09:17:20 with my additional side trades.
Top 5 Artists: David Bowie (16; 14 solo, 2 featuring); Spoon (14); Beck (13; 11 solo, 2 featuring); The Magnetic Fields (11); Of Montreal (11); 3-way tie: Beirut, Cat Power, Peter Bjorn and John (10).
Top 5 Songs: I was going to include the 5 most commonly used songs but, surprisingly, no song got used more then 3 times. It was a little challenging to ensure that, since people would often input different title styles and there’s probably typos in my iTunes (I copied data into Excel to generate some of these stats).
Even with a song title showing up 3 times, there was no guarantee that it was the same song even by different artists but that it just shared the same title. It looks like ‘Life on Mars’ by David Bowie was the most common song.
Breakdown of Exchanges:
PDP1: 2 Mixes (There was a third participant but that CD is not known to exist anywhere.)
PDP2: 13 Mixes (1 side trade)
PDP3: 16 Mixes (2 side trade)
PDP4: 19 Mixes
PDP5 – The Bill Murray Edition: 21 Mixes (1 side trade)
PDP6 – Revenge of the Mediocre Bands!: 17 Mixes (1 side trade)
PDP7 – The Winter Luau: 18 Mixes (1 side trade)
PDP8 – PDP Goes Down Under: 14 Mixes
PDP9 – Again with the loud music…: 20 Mixes (1 side trade – 2 vol mix!)
PDP9.5: 4 Mixes
PDP10 – One More Kick at the Bucket: 10 Mixes
PDP11 – A Limited Engagement: 7 Mixes (1 side trade)
PDP11.5 – An Official PDP Side Trade: 4 Mixes (1 quasi-side trade, on Rdio)
July 8th, 2013 · Comments Off
After getting asked last year to participate in the Toronto Spartan Sprint, I really wanted to participate again this year with a bit more focused training. I had been starting to go to the gym on a bit more regular basis but wasn’t doing much cardio at all. So when it came to do a 6-7km run with a bunch of obstacles, it really kicked my ass. While I didn’t have specific goals in mind (challenging, when they don’t provide an exact distance and the course changes from year to year), I knew that I wanted to improve my time over last year.
“What’d you do on Sunday?”
“Nothin’. Just leapt over some flaming logs.”
I was listed as #216 out of 1420, with a time of 1:11:52, which tied one other runner — way to go, Zack! In total, 1384 (97.5%) competitors made it through the entire course. The fastest time came in at a blazing 39:39 (whoa!) while the longest, successful Spartan battled for 5:16:52 (no quit). Calculating the times of all the finishers, the average time was 1:37:20 with a median completion of 1:34:43.
Because my time was last year was recorded on a timing box that suffered damage in a small electrical fire, I never had an official time. I think it was about 1:15:00 based on a rough estimation of other finishers and asking someone the time after I’d finished. The 2012 race had a lot more participants – 5825 — and a smaller spread between the fastest and slowest times, 31:04 – 3:19:16. The average time was 1:11:52 with a median of 1:10:11. There were no DNFs recorded last year but only 82% had results, at least in part because of the fire.
So, a casual (not causal) analysis suggests the course last year was somewhat faster/shorter. I was a bit over the (recorded) average/median last year, well under it this year — I’m calling it a success, both absolutely (~3min) and relatively (2012: 107% against median; 2013: 76% against median).
All my extra running/cardio training also paid off in me not being completely knackered after the race this year, which was a nice bonus. In fact, I felt like I left some effort on the course. With a lack of progress markers, it was hard to gauge how much I needed to leave in reserve and there’s one longer run in particular I regret not pushing the pace.
Having two races under my belt, I think next year I’ll know to basically push myself as hard as I can when running on access roads and catch my breath while at obstacle stations or negotiating the forest singletrack. And I do think I want to make this an annual event. While I’ve just started my training for a marathon in the fall (gulp), I actually don’t really like running that much. But I find the obstacle course challenge to be pretty fun. I may also try to do the longer Spartan Beast (~20k) distance next year as my fitness goal.
Even though the weather was way better this year, the turnout was much, much smaller — a result of the horrible rain last year? Also, I was a solo participant this year. While the three of us who ran last year all went at our own pace, this year definitely wasn’t social during the commute to the course and I missed the camaraderie of sharing post-race stories and discussing the obstacles. Though on the course, you’d often end up chatting with people at the obstacle stations and those you were running with between.
Still, I think I’d like to try and organize a team or group for next year’s race.
November 10th, 2012 · Comments Off
Wrote the below in response to an article on the class mailing list. I’m so happy to be talking telecoms for work and school these days!
Though doing further research, I see AT&T and Verizon have double the market cap in the US. Wireless probably has more growth left in it but it also has to go over a wire at some point. So maybe in the US telecoms could take over cablecos but wired access will still matter.
I have BCE’s 2011 annual report [PDF] handy because of a school assignment, and Wireline revenue is 10.6B versus Wireless at 5.2B. Rogers, Canada’s largest provider by subscriber, had revenues of 3.8B in Cable while Wireless delivered 7.1B in 2011. I just looked. TELUS already has IPTV, Quebecor is vertically integrated; Shaw’s looking into wireless through hotspots. This could work even perhaps on a wholesale level, though it didn’t really work for Clearwire.
Enough business of telecoms, time for homework on cultural impacts of mobile networks. #comcult
Henry can be a little bit overboard with his hype (see his permanent ban from securities after being charged with fraud in 2003 by the S.E.C. for his “enthusiasm” during the dot-com boom).
LTE (and LTE-Advanced, when it starts being commercially deployed, probably in 2014) will continue to put pressure on cablecos for people who are already cord-cutters or cord-shavers but the economics suggest Henry’s vision is unlikely. Rural areas without an existing cable infrastructure may see some benefits — though I’d argue that it may be more likely to come from municipal/coop-owned TVWS devices — but in urban areas any video service will tend to be additive rather than a replacement. Even Henry’s focus on Warner Brothers Cable — probably the worst of the big, regional US cablecos — is misleading. Google Fiber in Kansas is what’s pushing Warner’s to upgrade their network, not LTE.
Comcast caps start around 300GB of data, AT&T around 5GB for LTE phones; in Canada those numbers tend to be about 160GB and 2GB respectively from major service providers. Also in Canada, any company that provides LTE connectivity also has wireline TV (whether fiber, cable, or upgraded twisted copper). None of the new entrants have it and probably still won’t after the 700MHz auction, except maybe Quebecor.
The amount of infrastructure, spectrum and new business models needed to have wireless widely replace wireline is just not feasible with the current economic and regulatory model. To stream a 2hr HD movie takes about 3.5GB, to stream a 30 minute TV show in SD takes about 400MB. If the average user watches 155h46m of TV per month (Nielsen Cross-Platform-q1-2012), that’s about 122GB of data in standard definition or 170GB if 1/3 of viewing time is in HD.
Even with the declining cost of delivering data (wirelessly *and* wired), what order of magnitude of buildout would be required to move from 2GB wireless caps to 200GB+ (remember that 170GB is viewing, no emailing/websurfing/video chat/skype/social media/etc)?
Sorry, Henry, I’m just not buying what you’re selling.
Tags: Political Economy · Telecommunications
June 19th, 2012 · Comments Off
Crazy couple of months since I saw a couple fantastic bands that deserve more praise than I have time.
Parts & Labour is really far west. I don’t care how much I love Metric, Parkdale is a trek some days. That’s where I caught Frankie Rose. The venue was strange but kinda intimate, like a cave in prehistoric days. I really liked her set and she reminded me after a string of just alright shows, I could still have a really great night of live music.
In addition, I also liked the California Wives. A newish band out of Chicago, I liked their dream pop sound. Will see if they stick.
The following day, I caught Future Islands at the Horseshoe. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting but I sure got something. The first act — Ed Schrader’s Music Beat — was really, fascinating? When Future Islands took the stage, I really felt the rock opera of their music. I’ve never seen such a theatrical stage presence, and it was quite enthralling.
It paired nicely with the Frankie Rose show. Two shows in two nights. Exhausting but worth it. It’d have to be, it was about to be my longest stretch of the year between shows.
Tags: Concert · PDP
May 24th, 2012 · Comments Off
A few weeks back (over a month?), I was at Lee’s Palace to see The Cribs. Exclaim! has a review, though they seemed to be more appreciative than me.
Right in the middle of term paper time, I attended the show with another ComCult student. I think this really influenced my impression of the first band. The internet seemed to think (when last I checked) that it was a band called Teen Tits, Wild Wives (NSFW Googling!) but watching videos on YouTube (NSFW YouTube!) leads me to believe we did not see that band play. So they may have been the opening band. After some searching I discovered The Hounds Below (much friendlier search query), whose bandleader you may recall from The Von Bondies — I don’t, but every other site seems to mention it — was the band that was on stage.
They’ve been together in various permutations since 2009, though their YouTube videos appear to have a pretty frequent change. Which would make sense, since I thought they were put together as a market research group targeting 4 market distinct segments.
- Williamsburg hipster – Jason Stollsteimer, lead vocals
- 80s post-retro Footloose – Griffin Bastian, drummer
- 90s English guitar player – Skye Thrasher, lead guitar
- Skinny Seth Rogen with devil beard – Jesse Shepherd-Bates, bassist
I had linked to them before, but I felt some remorse over the level of snark I posses towards this band and feel like taking them out is, better? Every song was different, including when I called that they would end with a country song! Don’t get me wrong, I like a wide range of country — classic and alt, skipping over new country — but it has it’s place. Though I guess it also did here? The one redemming quality was that they seemed sincere. And after all, sincerity is the new irony. Or, so say About 12,900,000
results, er, uh, people. [Aside: I always think of Indie Rock Pete when I say that.]
Julie and I spent much of the next half hour evaluating the performance through a number of theoretical lenses, getting pretty convoluted (and funny) in our analysis at the end. Suffice it to say, I think we both enjoyed an evening away from papers and research!
Don’t feel like I have a lot more to add about Cribs. I respect the band’s decision to move away from their old sound after Johnny Marr, ex-The Smiths and Modest Mouse guitarist, left and the core once more focused on the three brothers Jarman. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. Though I did enjoy, of course, when they played their “big single”.
“Scenster” by Cribs, live at Lee’s Palace.
Tags: Concert · PDP
April 28th, 2012 · Comments Off
Managed to get out to see Cults this week. It was my first show at the Phoenix and, overall, I liked the venue. It had a bit of a weird vibe, like a converted high school gym. The faux neo-classical wall trappings (like “broken” columns) and high ceiling gave a pretty open space, along with decent sight lines. The floor seemed to have been stripped of any hardwood and was, instead, some covered concrete — which didn’t make standing all night ideal.
I was later than I initially planned, so missed the opener but I managed to catch the Spectrals. Not bad but I didn’t find them anything special and did appeared to be a strange opening for a buzz band. They seemed like middle-aged white dudes from the UK, though looking online that may not be exactly accurate. But I was standing in the back and the lead singer, Louis Oliver Jones, was wearing a dad ballcap with his big hair and their attire seemed more about comfort than any affected image.
Which was quite different from Cults, who really seemed more style than substance. I’ve quite enjoyed listening to their self-titled album, another great share from Mojgan. But watching them live shows just how much post-production is needed to create their distinctive, hollow sounding vocals — although the glockenspiel(!) sounded fine. Additionally, either touring has taken its toll on co-lead vocalist Madeline Follin or, more likely, she’s been assisted immensely through the same production magic. Brian Oblivion’s singing didn’t seem as affected live but I’ve always had a preference for female vocals.
It also felt like an incredibly short set. Mind you, Cults have a pretty limited catalogue, so this was not unexpected. They did play a cover, always aces in my books, Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows“. But that was mid-set and they didn’t even play the fake encore.
This actually earned some street cred with me, especially since they really made it clear that the “last song” was really to be the last song. And I’m such a cynic about the fake encore.
In the end, the show was just underwhelming. The opener (that I saw) didn’t really seem to compliment the headliner. The main attraction had only a marginal stage presence, which wasn’t enough to make up for the gap between their great debut disc and mediocre live sound.
Don’t get the wrong impression, I’m still a fan of Cults and I’m looking forward to a sophomore disc. But I’d have to recommend you enjoy their music at home or on your commute and save your concert event for someone a bit stronger.
Tags: Concert · PDP
April 11th, 2012 · Comments Off
I feel like a bit of concert karma has smacked me upside the head. After all my recent critiques about two opening act concerts, the time I want to see both I arrive so late that I only see the headliner. So it was when I went to my most recent show. Lesson learned.
Actually two lessons. I have a better idea of time for multiple trips and that Sound Academy is farther from the subway then I think. So as such, I can’t really give much comment on the openers performance live. They’re also somewhat new to me, in general.
Vactioner was the first up. They are so new to me that I’d only discovered them, in fact, when I reviewed the concert listing on Songkick. I gave their album a listen when I got home from work (perhaps part of the reason I was so late?) and immediately enjoyed it. They’ve kinda got a sound like Tennis, Washed Out, and Vampire Weekend all mashed up, which is totally my sound these days. Except when it’s a low-fi guitar pop with female lead vocals.
Next up, so schedules lead me to believe, was Now, Now. Another newish find from me via Mojgan’s Rdio. In truth, they were the band I was most looking forward to. I think I arrived just as they were finishing up, as there were roadies starting on a tear down. I’d initially thought that I’d just missed Vactioner but, when the Naked and Famous took the stage, I sadly acknowledged the mistake.
I did run into someone from school, the first time that I’d run into anyone at a show in Toronto. A friend of hers said they were good, and I’ll probably try and catch them the next time they’re in town. Here’s a stripped down version of the title track from their Neighbors EP.
Finally, it was time for the Naked and Famous. When they took the stage, I heard Mike’s voice in my declare, “My skinny jeans are in the wash!” Which may just explain all my concert crotchetiness lately, hmmm. Certainly they’re a bit of a buzz band, as it seemed a number of people awaiting them to start asked things like, “They’re from New Zealand, right?!”
Overall, I liked the show. Some of the songs seemed poorly crafted, though too be expected by such a young group that has an art house-indie rock pedigree where style is as important as substance. You could see the Franz Ferdinand influence but some of their hooks a la new wave-electronica New Order were a bit flat. At times there seems to be some challenges integrating the lead vocals from Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith. But when the elements did come together, they are catchy and manage a decent elctro-pop with hint of ’80s post-punk.
Matt Kirkey put “Young Blood” from their debut studio album, Passive Me, Aggressive You on his PDP11.5 mix, Separation Anxiety and that was certainly the song that stood out for me.
I think this time out also really cemented my feeling that Sound Academy is Toronto’s Commodore Ballroom. (Where the Naked and Famous are playing at the end of the month.) This is based on the types of shows I’ve seen there so far, certainly the Commodore is a nicer looking establishment. I also think it has nicer site lines throughout. But perhaps I’m just a homer…
Tags: Concert · PDP
April 2nd, 2012 · Comments Off
I’m a going to be straight with you up front, this show was not awesome. Not horrible, either. Just meh. Which probably explains the tardiness in getting this review up.
I also don’t know who the opening act was and a quick Google didn’t yield answers. Reviewing my notes, the only thing I have about the first act was that she reminded me a bit of Bjork and, also, had a hint of Justine Frischmann — former lead vocals for Elastica. The opener was a solo act, just her and her synth. I remember thinking it must be challenging to be an act that might be decent as a song at a dance party in full swing but instead having to warm up a crowd mid-week.
The second act was Nite Jewel. I thought her sound was okay to listen to while working, perhaps could serve on a movie soundtrack but I didn’t feel there was a lot of musicianship to watch on stage. Some of the bridges seemed overly long and self indulgent and normally I’m pretty generous of live performances. What brought on the snark? Probably my second show in a row, proving there’s a difference in concert season from my BA to my MA.
At one point Ramona Gonzalez asked the sound guy really pump the bass, which resulted in some giant feedback mid-track. Probably not the greatest request. There was definitely a Kavinsky-vibe to some of the songs (a plus), so much so, in fact, that instead of showing you a video of Nite Jewel, I’m going to share this awesome Kavinsky-Terminator mashup!
After a short wait, Chairlift hit the stage. But there’d already been two acts (Two! On a weeknight!) that I wasn’t super impressed with and was feeling a bit fidgety. For me, my favourite Chairlift track has always been “Evident Utensil”, as I used it on my PDP9 mix, Goodbye dear Aughts… Alas, it took until the second of three songs they played for the encore to get there. Though, funny aside, near the end of the set there was a drunk voice calling from near the stage for them to play this particular track. Which made me chuckle a bit…
I, myself, had originally discovered Chairlift through a music blog and remember thinking, “This is a cool song from a band not many people will probably know about.” Of course, this was at the height of my, “I don’t watch TV” phase, and I was blissfully unaware that Chairlift had gotten swept up in the Apple halo. There’s a line in High Fidelity, one of my all time top five desert island movies, that really set the stage. Rob Gordon notes, “Some people never got over ‘Nam or the night their band opened for Nirvana.” Rob never got over Charlie. Perhaps Chairlift never got over being in an iPod commercial?
“Bruises” and “Evident Utensil” were the only two tracks I really knew well going into the night. Reading some positive reviews of the show, perhaps it was just my foul mood that spoiled the show. I did enjoy the verse of Modern English’s “I Melt With You” put into “Bruises” and was happy to have stuck it out to see the one track that I wanted to hear. I definitely think to have been in the crowd, instead of lurking at the back like I was, could have made for a more entertaining show. Certainly, Caroline Polachek, provides a unique stage presence due to her modern dance abilities. As showcased in “Amanaemonesia”.
And that’s the thing. I do actually like Chairlift’s music, I just didn’t really care for this show.
March 30th, 2012 · Comments Off
I knew when I started streamlining my online presence into only two distinct personas (telecoms & not telecoms), that this site was going to see an increase in posts about topics that used to be show up on the PDP website. But I hadn’t expected it turn into a music blog. That said, there’s only a few posts in a row on concerts and I’m looking to get blogging more in April — both here and on the telecom website.
Caveats and context aside, this post is clearly going to be a concert review. First up in this week of back to back shows was Bowerbirds. This was my second show at the Garrison, after having seen Veronica Falls last month. I haven’t been to a lot of shows or venues yet but this is an early favourite.
Opening up was Dry the River, from London. I thought you could hear some Brit pop in their sound, especially bass lines. Put me in mind of Doves. But they also at times felt like their were channeling Bon Iver, matt pond PA or even Sigur Ros. They’re listed as folk rock on Wikipedia but it sounds like they’re still trying to figure out a direction for the band.
Lead vocals Peter Liddle at times seemed too focused on singing with an affected voice, with the strongest songs — for me — when they were closer to the Doves sound. Although doing post show research and seeing that he’s Norwegian helps temper my assessment, I still stand by it. Scott Miller, the bassist, seemed really excited on stage but strangely “puppy-like”.
This video, “No Rest”, has the most hits on Youtube, it’ll be the one I share.
I’ve previously noted I’m getting to the age where I appreciate one opening act on a weeknight. Or at least I’m that busy these days. So I was glad to see Bowerbirds on next. I knew a little bit about them, having listened to them on Rdio after spying them on an upcoming sign. Philip Moore handles most of the vocals, with Beth Tacular the alternative lead. I thought Mark Paulson did a great job on backing vocals and playing a number of instruments. That seemed a theme, with people constantly shifting positions. Not sure who the back up strings was, but I felt her play was also strong.
While Moore also has a distinct singing style, it didn’t have the same forced quality. They played a number of tracks that I recognized including “Teeth” (which Olivia had on her PDP11 mix, Hawaii Five O), “Northern Lights”, and, the below, “In Our Talons”.
I thought that the sounds were distinct enough depending on whether Moore or Tacular had lead, that long term might see the emergence of two bands. Though when the core of a band is a relationship, it’s gotta be a sticky proposition.
Overall, I enjoyed the set. They won’t blow you away but if you’re in the mood for some American roots/folk, you should check them out. Any band who gets a Take Away Show deserves a listen.
Tags: Concert · PDP