Friday, April 23, 2010
Sloan @ Sonic Boom: photo by Michael Ligon
Last Saturday was Record Store Day and in celebration of that I took to the streets of Toronto with no real itinerary in mind other than to go to a few record stores and perhaps to take in an instore session or two. I made it out to Rotate This, Criminal Records and Soundscapes in that order picking up the alternate version of Pavement's "Quarantine The Past", the vinyl of the new Goldfrapp album "Head First" and the Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' 7-inch containing two unreleased tracks, "The Oldest House" b/w "North Coast". Subsequently, I'd also checked out BMV Books where I managed to snag a used copy of the vinyl of The Arcade Fire's "Funeral" as well as scoring a bunch of issues of comic "Optic Nerve" [btw, I only need the first issue to complete the series], and then went to Sunrise Records. For the rest of the afternoon, I ended up checking out a few other non-music-related stores and killing some time. Ultimately, a decision had to be made whether to head to Criminal Records for 7 pm for a surprise instore by The Tallest Man On Earth or go straight to Sonic Boom for Sloan who were headlining the store's Record Store Day festivities at 8 pm and in the end I chose the Canadian boys.
Rather than play in the basement of Sonic Boom were the instore performances were usually held, a stage had been set up on the main floor about half way back into the store. For some reason, I'd manage not to notice the stage on the main floor and instead headed downstairs where it was surprisingly sparse. It was only because of applause that I'd heard from the main floor that something indeed was happening upstairs, and then it occurred to me that maybe I should head upstairs. And indeed that's where Sloan would be playing. First, though MC of the day Pink Eyes from Fucked Up (with I believe his baby boy in a sling on his stomach) concluded his duties of the day by handing out a few more raffle prizes and then Sonic Boom owner Jeff Barber said a few thank-you's and introduced Sloan.
Over the last several years I've seen Sloan in venues big and small, having seen the band live three times in 2009 including at Mississauga's Library Square, the main stage at Virgin Festival at Molson Ampitheatre, and an Argos tail-gate party stage setup outside of Air Canada Centre. Going back to 2007 they played a stage at Nathan Phillips Square as part of Toronto's WinterCity Festival. Sonic Boom was the most intimate setting yet and the guys used the opportunity to play songs that they rarely and or had never played live. The set list was culled entirely from a few of their recent digital-only releases including 2010's "B Sides Win: extras, bonus tracks and b-sides 1992-2008" and 2009's "Hit and Run" EP. Except for set-opener "Laying Blame", I didn't recognize anything else but it was obvious that some of their rarities were just as strong as their singles or album cuts. The analogy that Jay Ferguson drew of the band's rarities setlist, some of which the band had never played live, was like the band had studied for an exam and were about to take the test was a humourous comment but then listening to the band subsquentently play, one could tell how tight of band they still are compared to the slacker, indie-rock band they began as almost twenty years ago. It's understandeable that the band is in retrospective mode at the moment, but I'm looking forward to whatever their next album brings.
Don't fret if you missed Sloan this time as they'll be back in June to play Yonge Dundas Square, on a date TBD, as part of this year's NxNE.
Photos: Sloan @ Sonic Boom, Toronto (April 17, 2010)