"But there was nothing about the little, low-rambling, more or less identical homes of Northumberland Estates to interest or to haunt, no chance of loot that would be any more than the ordinary, waking-world kind the cops hauled you in for taking; no small immunities, no possibilities for hidden life or otherworldly presence; no trees, secret routes, shortcuts, culverts, thickets that could be made hollow in the middle – everything in the place was right out in the open, everything could be seen at a glance; and behind it, under it, around the corners of its houses and down the safe, gentle curves of its streets, you came back, you kept coming back, to nothing; nothing but the cheerless earth."
Thomas Pynchon, "The Secret Integration"

This is Ian Mathers' Tumblr. I live in Canada. I've written about music and other things for Stylus, PopMatters, Resident Advisor, the Village Voice, and a few other places. Hi.

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Loop — “Forever”

So Loop played in Toronto last night; I’d been planning to go ever since the tour announced, then realized I didn’t even have the spare money to buy a ticket, then my saint of a dad heard about that and gave me a bit of money so that I could go. I am so, so grateful that he did; it’d been 24 years (by Robert Hampson’s estimation) since they’d been in town and who knows if they’ll make it back? And the show was… fairly monumental. As I mentioned last night, I should have worn earplugs, but honestly it was only during the encore that my ears started actively feeling it (I’m sure some damage was done before that, but…) and it just sounded so incredible. I’m not going to get too much into why I think Loop are a great band here; I’ve written enough about that already.

It was pretty much everything I could have wanted from Loop live; endless bad trip nirvana, so deep in the pocket they formed their own gravity well. I know they’re influenced as much by Krautrock as anything else, but except for the brain-frying Can cover I don’t hear much of a literal influence in most of their songs. Stuff like “Forever,” especially live, I hear more as almost proto-doom metal, honestly. I don’t know if I even would want to hear new material from Loop (although certainly more from them than, say, the Pixies). But then again before last night I would have said the last thing I needed from Loop was Hampson being personable, even impish, but a very drunk older guy who had ALL THEIR RECORDS and loved them SO MUCH and felt like between every song he had to be THE MOST IMPORTANT GUY IN THE ROOM gave him plenty of opportunity to be so, and it was delightful. And of course, every time the band was ready, they were instantly so loud we couldn’t hear drunk mr “I’m a REAL FAN” guy anymore.

The setlist was pretty evenly divided between their albums and had a healthy amount of nonalbum material too; I didn’t walk away wishing they’d played x or y, because everything they did play was so great. And one reason I hope they do make it back, and soon, is that Loop could easily have played a completely different set of songs and it would have been just as great a show. Bummer jams forever.

Set list:

(“Shot With a Diamond” taped intro)
Soundhead
The Nail Will Burn
Straight to Your Heart
Pulse
Forever
Collision
Arc-Lite
Fever Knife
Vapour
Burning World

Breathe Into Me
Mother Sky (Can cover)

Earth — “A Bureaucratic Desire for Revenge (Part 2)”

I almost forgot to celebrate Earth Day.

(NB. Never search for just “extracapsular extraction” on YouTube unless you have a higher tolerance for eye surgery than I apparently do)

Leverage Models — “The Chance to Go” (Off the Avenue)

I may have forgotten last time, but I certainly won’t again. Leverage Models are playing the Drake Underground (wonderful venue) with these guys tomorrow night here in Toronto and I can almost guarantee two things:

  1. It’s going to be amazing
  2. Not enough people are going to be there

If you’re in Toronto, I cannot possibly recommend you come to this show any more than I am recommending that you come to this show. If I had any money at all in the world, I would try and bribe you with a beverage of your choice to get you to come out (as it is, I’m not going to a show tonight, one I’ve been anticipating since it was announced last year, one where this may be my only chance ever to see a band I really love live, because I can’t afford the ticket). But believe me, the show will be reward enough itself.

The Afghan Wigs — “The Slide Song”

Most of my favourite Greg Dulli songs are the ones where I feel like he’s confessing the terrible weakness that’s at the core of his persona (which is why my real favourite is “The Killer” on Blackberry Belle). But then again, maybe I’m in the minority here; when he sings “I got the devil in me, girl” at the end of “John the Baptist” it’s always sounded pathetic to me, not seductive (and therefore sympathetic, which is the trick he always pulls). The last two Whigs albums before they originally called it quits, especially, it always feels to me like he’s thrashing back and forth between the Nosferatu and Lestat parts of that persona. But, you know, this is the same song where he sings “baby, don’t make me worry about you” reproachfully; some problems, some people, don’t ever get fixed.

R.E.M. — “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”

It’s old home week here today, I guess (blame insomnius for linking this on Twitter). Most people I know tend to love the early stuff but I’m completely unapologetic about the fact that Automatic for the People through to Up was and is ‘my’ R.E.M. Up came out in 1998 so I still had a few years of high school left, and that was the period when I got Plumtree’s three albums and they became my favourite band in the world instead. And it was through ordering Plumtree albums from Endearing Records that I heard about Readymade and got their albums, and they made my kneejerk default favourite album of all time. I’d feel worse about that album being one I first heard when I was 18-9 if not for the fact that if I start listing other albums I really love plenty of them are ones I first heard much later in life (I don’t think most of us want to feel like our tastes are trapped in teenage amber, do we?).