Thursday, July 23, 2009

Top Ten Facts About the Weakerthans

Leaning on this broken fence between past and present tense.

The Weakerthans, whom I've mentioned here and here, performed last night in L.A. Much of the crowd sang along for good portions of the band's 100-minute set, which reminded me again of the sheer power and joy of great music played well.

In honor of the show, here's a list of my 10 favorite facts about the Weakerthans:

10. Head Weakerthan John K. Samson is the Seth Green of Canadian Rock. While his bandmates jump around like goofy and gleeful teenagers doing ironic impressions of arena rock moves, he stands still, vaguely amused by the chaos swirling around him (like Oz waiting to tell Giles and Buffy that he's really the one in charge of the Scooby Gang).

9. It's hard not to love a four-piece band that tours with a fifth musician who plays keyboards, guitars, and trumpet.

8. Their Spring 2009 tour was called the "Rolling Tundra Revue."

7. Their song "Aside" was the third-best thing about the movie Wedding Crashers. (Here's a taste, in a fan-produced video that's gotten nearly 150,000 hits.)

6. The band's second album Left and Leaving was voted the 6th best Canadian album of all time (behind two Neil Young albums, and one each by Broken Social Scene, Sloan, and Joni Mitchell. Their third album is even better. And the latest one is even better than that.

5. They have written the first (and perhaps only) great rock song about curling:

4. Samson collaborated with Inuit throat singer Nikki Komaksiutiksak on a song called "Keewatin Arctic" for Canada's "Record of the Week" club where musicians from different backgrounds are put together semi-randomly and given one evening to right and record a song, which is mixed and made available for download that same night. Hear (or buy) "Keewatin Arctic" here.

3. Crowds around the world will sing along to any song that has a simple, memorable chorus, like the one in "One Great City": "I hate Winnipeg" (with Londoners happily singing in this video).

2. The "Civil Twilight" video, which I've posted before, is shot in one continuous take. A penguin (although perhaps not the same one who taught Samson French in the song "Our Retired Explorer") makes a cameo as one of the bus riders.

1. There's nothing quite like crowding with hundreds of people in a small Hollywood club on a day when it's 105 degrees (but a dry 105 degrees) to hear a Canadian band singing songs about winter in the Great North. Good thing Los Angeles is an irony-free zone (with great air conditioning).


Alex said...

Also, the Weakerthans were named Artist of the Year in 2008 in the Verge Music awards, sponsored by XM Canada.

Eric said...

Made me think of the Warren Zevon song nominally about the other great Canadian sport, hockey. Called "Hit Somebody". Just a great song.