I’ve never had a concert cancelled on me before.
Last night, I was supposed to be going to the Radiohead show at Downsview Park. As you may have heard already, a few hours before the show was set to start, the stage collapsed, killing one person and injuring three others. Quite a tragedy really – I don’t understand why stages keep collapsing over the past year or two. I suspect the problem is with manufacturers and bogus materials – I can’t really see any other way that this could be happening so frequently and within such a small timeframe. Wherever the problem is, somebody down the line has to start getting their shit together. This kind of thing is unacceptable.
So that was too bad, but considering that The Flaming Lips were playing for free later that night, it was hard to get too broken up about it. It was already a somewhat difficult choice to pick Radiohead over them, so it worked out pretty well for me.
The problem was that it seems everybody else who was planning to go to Radiohead had the same idea, so Yonge and Dundas Square was absolutely packed. My friends and I got there about halfway through Of Montreal’s set, and already the crowd was reaching from the square out into the surrounding streets. I didn’t catch a whole lot of that set – the sound from all the way back at the Eaton’s Centre was pretty crappy, so the only stuff I was able to hear was booming bass with no real audio clarity. That was alright though – while I would have liked to see and hear more of them, I haven’t been too into Of Montreal since 2004’s Sunlandic Twins. They have so many albums that all of their material tends to kind of blend together, and it’s reached a point where I just feel like I’ve had enough of them. Tal – who you were introduced to yesterday – was up front though, and he said the set was excellent.
We all decided that we were hungry afterwards, so instead of staying for Portugal. The Man’s set, we made our way over to Big Fat Burrito. Have you ever been to a Big Fat Burrito? You really should. I consider myself something of a burrito connoisseur, and there really is no better in the city. If you’re in Toronto, you should go there sometime. I recommend the pulled pork, or yam if you’re in a veggie mood. Yes, yam. Great idea right?
We got back just as Portugal. The Man finished up, hoping that the crowd would disperse after the set and we could get better spots for Flaming Lips. This was, unfortunately, not the case, and after much pushing and shoving, we still couldn’t get to a point where we could so much as see the stage. We ended up watching the entire set on the screen set up near the back of the crowd. It was quite frustrating, especially because we’re all legitimate fans of the band, whereas pretty much everyone else around us was just there to have something to do. Also, there was a real dick standing beside us who A) nearly punched me in the face three times from attempting to simulate the moves from an Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter trailer, B) brought glass bottles of beer to an outdoor concert on a hot day where many people, including myself, were wearing sandals, and C) spat a mouthful of water right onto the backs of my friends’ heads – I believe this was due to a simulated “spit-take” in response to something his girlfriend said. I swear I nearly clocked that dude. Fucking asshole.
Anyways, the set itself was awesome. I suspected that the Flaming Lips would play the exact same set as when I saw them two years ago, because they haven’t released any new albums since then and they’re a band who have had the same stage show for about ten years. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case – when last I saw them, they didn’t play anything off of The Soft Bulletin, but it was represented here by a couple tunes. Instead, they shafted Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, only playing “Do You Realize??”, the obvious closing song of the set. I was pretty okay with this since I like The Soft Bulletin better anyways. True to form, they pulled out all of their usual stage tricks – Wayne Coyne in a hamster ball, massive hands that shoot lasers, and the band being introduced by walking out of a giant, light-giving vagina. It might be time to bring out a new bag of gimmicks at this point, but the old ones are just as weird and, frankly, awesome as they’ve always been. So yeah, shame about the circumstances, but the set was fantastic.
Join me once again tomorrow for my final report of North by Northeast, in which I attempt and possibly fail to actually go to the festival at all, in the wake of another show the same night!