Concert Review: The Olivia Tremor Control, September 16, Lee’s Palace

Photo from Chromewaves

There are some bands from the mid-90’s that for one reason or another, never really found an audience outside of College Radio. Back in 1997 though, the internet wasn’t quite what it is today. Modems used these things called phone landlines, and you’d reveal all of your age cards if you were to reproduce the dial-up sounds with accuracy.

It went something like this.

It’s hard to imagine now, but I had an increasingly time-consuming internet addiction that had been in its infancy since 1994, to the point where no one could get through to 905-738-9018. I was using things like mIRC at that time in addition to heavily following the Morissey-Solo discussion boards. I actually ended up befriending a few people off those boards, but I liked them most for one purpose and one purpose only: mix-tape trading.

I had a few devoted mix-tape partners over those years. The best was a Professor of Middle English Literature at the University of Edinburgh (he was into Wire, Gang of 4, Pavement, amongst others). Another favorite was a Toronto-based 4AD Collector I’m still friends with to this day. The guy who introduced me to Olivia Tremor Control ended up being one of the best of all–a New York City-based musician who had a short-lived Smiths cover band called The Salford Lads. I didn’t know too much about Olivia Tremor Control beyond songs like Jumping Fences, Hideaway, and I Can Smell the Leaves, but seeing their name on an upcoming concerts schedule again took me back.

Perhaps I wasn’t the best person to consult beyond what expect beyond this handful of songs, because what I saw at the half-full crowd at Lee’s Palace that night was not necessarily what I remembered. That’s not a bad thing in itself–maybe I just wasn’t feeling having to wait in line behind gaggles of girls in stiletto heels and miniskirts (since when did the Dance Cave become a bonafide night club?!?!), or maybe it was standing in the one area someone chose to consistently drop “silent but deadlies” (no wonder no one was standing there), but I just wasn’t feeling the seemingly endless (8 piece?!) band that seemed to fill their set with more “sound” interlude inbetween songs that night.

There has been a weird phenomenon of the last couple of shows in recent memory featuring totally incoherent banter between a singer and the audience. The stream-of-consciousness reached a new high when one of the vocalists was told to “shut-up” and responded with “no, it’s our show”. Thankfully Elephant 6 co-founder Bill Doss would step-in to keep it together, graciously thanking someone named Kalli for baking them some cookies (not sure what was in them but there you go).

Banter aside, this show adds to Allison’s file of “I’m not sure how I feel about reunion shows”. On the one hand, it wasn’t bad to hear those songs–and certainly a group of hardcore fans up front were appreciating every minute of their set. On another, some of these tours add as mildly depressing reminders that a 15+ year timeframe can lapse without anything changing. The same half-full clubs, the same background chatter, the same everything else. This all came to a head when one of the band members ended their encore with a plea for “greens and a place to crash”….

Posted on by Allison in Concerts

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