Cameron Carpenter – 10 CC – That’s The Ticket
It was 42 years ago next Wednesday when I saw The New York Dolls and Kiss perform at Massey Hall. It was one of my earliest concert going experiences and I still remember the combination of fear and excitement racing through my body.
Concerts in the seventies were a totally different experience than they are today. Getting tickets to concerts was a totally different experience as well. If the show was at Massey Hall, Maple Leaf Gardens or the CNE you had two choices; go to the box office of the venue and buy tickets or go to one of the many record stores that sold tickets. If it was a big show you knew you would have to get in line very early in the morning, and, if you wanted great seats you would line-up overnight. You paid cash because not many teenagers had a Chargex (what?) card and there was no such thing as a debit card. If you got a floor for The Gardens the ticket had a yellow stripe, a red had a red stripe, a blue had, you guessed it, a blue stripe. These were hard tickets, nothing to scan, if you lost your ticket you were screwed. There were always scalpers at popular shows but you knew if you made the effort (lining up all night) you could get the best available seats. If you could only get greens you could only get greens, there were no computers to check just a drawer-full of tickets in a drawer beside the cash register. I miss hard tickets. I still have a binder will a lot of my old tickets and all I have to do is see the Alice Cooper “Welcome To My Nightmare” ticket and I know exactly where I sat on the floor. I hated it when all the tickets from all the different venues looked exactly alike. My Be-Bop Deluxe ticket from Seneca looks exactly the same as my Cars ticket from the El Mocambo. For some shows today you just have a code on your phone or a print out and there is nothing to save. Where’s the romance in this?
Everyone now carries a combination camera/video camera in their pockets nowadays. We used to have to remember to buy film for our Instamatics, maybe a flash cube, and then hope there would one or two semi-decent shots where you might be able to recognize the artist on stage, and, this was after taking your film to the drug store and then waiting two weeks for the blurry images to be in your hands. I guess these memories were triggered by my upcoming birthday later this week and Field Trip last weekend.
1. I kind of like the idea of the wristband for a festival. Different colour combinations signify different things such as what day you are attending and where you are allowed to go (VIP area/backstage/dressing room). The cloth ones are much more preferable to the laminated paper models as they shower so much better.
2. I think the first big outdoor concert I ever attended was on Centre Island on August 9th, 1974. I don’t remember too much about the actual site on Olympic Island but I do remember most of the performers; Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Canned Heat, Status Quo, Rory Gallagher and Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show.
3. I liked the set-up for Field Trip with the two main stages only a couple of minutes apart and no sound bleed between the two. For various reasons I only attended the Saturday show. Check-in was painfully easy (we arrived early on the very sunny afternoon) and immediately did a site survey just to get our bearings for the day. In the past festivals of this size always had a separated and fenced in “beer garden” which was always a pain as you usually had to buy beer tickets (line-up) and then your beer (line-up). At Field Trip there were beer sellers pulling wagons around with Tall Boys and a beer was always easy to both find and purchase (there were also beer/cocktails stands throughout the venue). This seemed civilized and at no point did I see anyone who was visibly trashed. I wondered how this system might have worked back in the days of the CNE Grandstand shows. For one many of us would line-up overnight to be first into the venue (for no apparent reason if you planned on watching from the field) and by three or four o’clock in the afternoon (usually five hours before the headliners) the bodies started to drop. Back then you could not buy alcohol at the venue and everything had to be snuck-in usually via a well hidden mickey or wineskin. Somehow people managed to get absolutely fall-down hammered by mid-day. Somehow I don`t think it would have worked back then. Of course the cost of a beer at Field Trip ($10.00) was the cost of a ticket back then.
4. I really enjoyed the afternoon set by The Beaches. I have been watching these local girls since they were called “Done With Dolls” and barely teenagers. They commanded the second stage and drew a sizeable crowd who enjoyed their Runaways meets The Pretenders meets the Go-Go’s rock. Constant touring has given them both confidence and swagger and these will be tested later this summer when they head out for series of dates with The Eagles of Death Metal. Call it a hunch but I can see a big breakout coming for this band.
5. Field Trip prides itself on being family friendly (I was there with my son – also drinking $10 beers) and there was a lot of kids there and plenty for them to do. The branded noise cancelling headphones were kind of adorable, there were drums they could bash on over at the MusiCounts booth and there was a side stage featuring kid’s performers. Kevin Drew (co-founder of the event) took to the kid’s stage along with Broken Social Scene brother Brendan Canning and the two, along with a little help from their friends, performed a totally improvised set taking requests from children in the audience and made up songs about bums, pizza, The Arkells and the price of real estate in Hamilton. I know they adults in the crowd enjoyed it but not sure most of the kids got the humour.
6. Things are looking up for July Talk. They were the second last band of the evening on the main stage and they totally killed it. Opening with their new single “Push & Pull” they had the crowd from first couple of notes and within minutes Leah Fay was in the pit warning the excited audience members to not even think about grabbing her tits. Their set was heavy with great new songs from their forthcoming album but it was the old chestnuts that got the biggest reactions from the large crowd.
7. The National proved they were stadium ready with a set that covered all of the bases from their career. Something has definitely changed with headlining sets today. I know there was an 11 PM hard curfew imposed on the event but in my mind the band would play until about 10.40 PM and then return for a well-deserved encore. This never happened . They played until 10.55, the crowd applauded and then headed towards the exits. Now sometimes encores are not deserved but it seems like today’s audiences don’t know or abide by the concert rules that I grew up on. Of course we never turned our backs to the stage and poised for selfies either.
8. Although I did not attend on Sunday it was a very good call by the organizers to evacuate the site for a couple of hours when storms threatened and hit the site. Not popular at the time but the safest and bravest thing to do.
9. Next week the long list for the 11th annual Polaris Prize will be announced live from Whitehorse. I am looking forward as always to reading the list and trying to figure out who will make the top ten.
10. We have a concert announcement as Indie Week presents Spaceface and Ginger Ale & The Mono Whales at the Piston on Sunday July 3rd. Now to see Ginger Ale in an intimate event space is a treat in itself but to have Flaming Lip’s guitarist Jake Ingalls and his band Spaceface headlining the show with his trippy west coast band takes this show to a whole other level. Tickets will be going fast at http://ticketf.ly/1UjsKgg.
Cam’s column appears every Thursday.
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Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.