And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

I caught the Trail of Dead show last night at Richards on Richards, alongside Ben. I don’t really know Tod — I’ve listened to Source codes & Tags a few times, and really liked it (I’ll even admit to having downloaded several tracks, although, do-gooder that I am, I didn’t keep them around for too long), and had heard that they were really excellent live. At an astoundingly affordable $15, I figured ‘what the heck!’. Trading Ben for an equally affordable Dan Bern ticket (which is tonight at Richards on Richards, incidentally), we were all set.

I’ll gloss over the opening acts, whose names I never caught, because, well, my mother always told me to not say anything if I didn’t have anything nice to say, which I don’t. Oh, except the lead singer of the first band had a pretty cool tattoo, and I think I recognized her from my brief foray into film at UBC. And my mother never told me that. But and so.

Trail of Dead was much as I expected — rockingly melodic, Led Zepellin-esque (including actually playing a brief Led Zep interlude. I can’t recall the track name, but from the Houses of the Holy era), fastastically entertaining and encouragingly energetic (in as much as how they pumped up the crows). They came on stage hidden behind a large hand-scrawled sign that read ‘We want to party tonite. Let’s rock’ (or something similar), and proceeded to do just that. They mixed it up well, between the racous full-on head-banging rock and the more melodic pieces, making sure no matter which face you prefer, they satisfied you. A thing I didn’t really expect was that they’re total guitar snobs: each of the guitarists had 6 or 7 guitars, and they’d switch off between each song, their tech then quickly retuning a guitar for the next time to use it. Now, to be fair, many of the songs required a re-tuning of the guitar, but I found it very charming, in a good way.

As the set progressed and they got drunker, the seemingly inevitable accident occured, when water was poured over an amplifier, killing it. They did a remarkably good job even without it — I may even have preferred them in a such a format, because the skill was not drowned out by the dual assault (they really suffered from the muddy/fuzzy sound of Richards). Shortly after, they trashed their drumkit, and I assumed the show was over. But no! While playing, they rebuilt the kit, and onwards they went.

At the end of the set, they did indeed destroy the kit, throwing peices , amps, water and so on at each other, until there were just pieces left. This, of course, set the bouncers off, and suddenly there was bald muscle-men everywhere, ripping equipment from the audience’s hands, and desperately trying to keep order. The crowd still wanted more, and after a few minutes (during which the lights actually came up), they walked back on stage, asking what exactly we wanted, seeing as they couldn’t play anymore. Eventually, they settled on a sing-along, a cappella version of ‘Cecilia’. Which was funny and silly and great fun.

Associated notes:

  • I ran into Paul (who, on account of his site, I often now think of as ‘Chuddy McChudderson’), and Pinder. They seemded both pretty stoked about the show, so hopefully it lived up to their expectations. I would guess that it did.
  • Some joker kept yelling them to play a particular song (‘claire de lune’?), in every break. There’s a loser like that at every show. I wonder if it’s the same guy?
  • One of the opening acts made fun of 50 cent, so from then on the crowd kept yelling ’50 cent rules, you asshole’, and so on and so forth
  • The orchestrated destruction at the end of the set was truly impressive, although appeared largely superficial. No drumsticks through the skin or anything like a recent show I was at.
  • The band had a real thing for throwing around water, including one of those water-cooler bottles. The bouncers really didn’t like that, and fought desperately to get it away from the crowd
  • I need earplugs, now that I’m all old 😉
  • I reconfirmed my opinion that volume, rather than compensating for talent, actually requires more to pull off.
  • ToD has a healthy attitude to downloaded music that makes me feel much better about having downloaded theirs