Naturally alarmed, I quickly checked my ticket confirmation (I had ordered the tickets online through Ticketmaster) and they said Friday March 3. But I was still worried. I think at some point in the recent past someone else had said something about the show Thursday and I shrugged it off because I knew that wasn’t the day I had bought tickets for. And when I went and checked on Ticketmaster’s website, the show now did in fact say Thursday March 2nd.
I decided I’d get to the heart of the matter and called up The Red Room to find out just what night this show was. But they appeared almost as confused as I.
Me: I’m calling about the matt pond PA show, trying to find out what night it’s on, Thursday or Friday?
Guy on other end of line: Who?
Me: Uh, matt pond PA. I have a ticket confirmation that says Friday but Ticketmaster’s website is now saying Thursday.
Guy: Are you sure it’s here? The Red Room?
Me: Yeah, matt pond PA at The Red Room.
Guy: Well, there is no show tomorrow night and tonight it’s Youth Group.
Me: Yes, that’s the show. matt pond PA with Youth Group.
Guy: Let me just check the poster and make sure. [delay] Yep, Youth Group and matt pond PA. Tonight.
Immediately I instant messaged Kim who was at work. She had been planing on staying late at work but luckily there was nothing that couldn’t wait and so she was still able to come.
We headed down and got there fairly early. It was good in that we were able to grab a good booth. A little while later, Brandden and his friend Colin (who I’ve known as for years as that guy who used to work at McDonald’s and who knew me as that guy who used to work at Sport Chek but we had never actually spoken to each other outside of McDonald’s food transactions) stopped by. Since there was space at the booth, they hung out there. We made small talk until the first act came on, a local singer-songwriter by the name Robert Wilson. For a few of his songs, he had this interesting thing where he’d loop a guitar rif or some sort of ‘do doo do’ kinda of vocal, maybe a simple percussion on his guitar. He’d have about four or five different sounds that he’d record and loop on the spot and then he’d play the actual song. It enabled him to have a much fuller sound than just the acoustic guitar and himself and it was cool that he did the looping live instead of having pre-recorded sounds. On the first song, he even wiped the memory of his device and re-did all the sounds because he said, ‘I wasn’t quite feeling my chi there.’ He was good in that ubiquitous manner that singer-songwriters often are but nothing out of this world.
Then came Youth Group. I had always thought they were supporting matt pond PA but hadn’t been 100ince the phone call earlier in the day when the guy knew Youth Group but not matt pond PA. They were playing a good set when all of a sudden there was a loud pop/bang sound, like a speaker blew. But the sound didn’t seem to change. Until the lead singer went to sing again and no sound came out. They finished out the music for that song and then the techies came on stage. It wasn’t the mic (or at least not just the mic) but the sound board had blown out. After a while of attempted fixing (that included replacing the main mic) and a lot of cell phone calls, Youth Group‘s lead singer and lead guitarist came back on stage and played a stripped down set of semi-acoustic songs. Their instruments were amplified and they did have a mic but no rest of the band. As a result, they didn’t play their main ‘hit’ song Shadowland, nor did they play Forever Young, the song they covered on The O.C. This I think upset Brandden a little, as he did yell out ‘Shadowland!’ and ‘The O.C.‘ (It’s amazing, he even said it in italics!) And by upset, I mean not really. I think he just enjoyed calling out things.
Well, finally some guy showed up with a new sound board (frantic calls had paid off I guess) and they quickly hooked up the board and changed the equipment. matt pond PA came on stage and we all got to see them do sound check for the new board. Matt Pond himself looked especially haggard and I think this must be their shittiest tour ever. I’ve been reading the details through the bulletins and blog postings and things have not been going well for matt pond PA. First, they had their gear stolen early in the trip. They were able to replace stuff but posted a request for a guitar tech in town of one of their upcoming gigs to properly set up the gear insurance replaced. Then somewhere in the mid-West their van broke down. I think they ended up missing a show because of it. Since they were doing the Seattle show after the Vancouver show, it suggested they had finished a long drive to get into Vancouver, likely day of, and now had to deal with misfunctioning equipment.
Finally instruments were checked and the rockin’ started. Brandden moved down into the crowd in front of stage and I followed him. Kim and Colin stayed at the booth. The show was excellent and they played a lot of my favourite songs. It was a good mixture of things from Emblems and Several Arrows Later, my two favourite albums with a few tracks throw in from other albums. They played So Much Trouble, their single from the new album if they were a band that did in fact have singles, which was the song Brandden had included on his PDP3 CD, *. They didn’t play Lily Two which was the track I had on my PDP2 CD, Quest For Musical Validation v2.7, but did play New Hampshire which was my other favourite song from Emblems and canadian song from The Green Fury.
It was weird in some ways that there was only a mic for Matt Pond. I’m not sure if that’s their normal set up while touring or a result of the sound board/mic issues but there were no backing vocals during the show. Also, I’m always a sucker for bands that have classical instruments and thus had a little crush on Dana Feder. I’m not sure if she’s a great cello player (I don’t have a lot of experience to rate her ability) but I thought she was good and it always adds something I think to have cellos or violins in contemporary bands.
During the set there was some good banter and some funny moments. There were a lot of thanks for people being patient with the nearly hour down time in the middle of the evening and appreciation that people stayed. You got the feeling like all these mishaps were taking their toll. At one point someone (there weren’t more than about 100-150 people there) asked how the band was liking Vancouver and Matt said it was nice but they were only in town for like 5 seconds. I shouted that the van should have broken down here and he said, ‘We don’t talk about the van.’ It was funny but I’m glad that I’m not stuck in a cross continent trip in a van with 4 other people. I did like the comment about how they used to play a lot of shows for squatters and in Church basements and that anarchists are okay with drinking beer but not buying beer for others.
Overall it was a great show and I’m really happy I finally got to see matt pond PA play as they’re one of my favourite bands. Like I said, I’m a huge fan of Several Arrows Later and especially Emblems. I also have their The Green Fury CD which I like and Nature of Maps which I don’t think is quite as good as the latest offerings. But if you have a chance to see them live or listen to their last two CDs, I’d highly recommend it.