Review and photos – Sloan at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, June 3 2011
– review by Rachel Fox/photos by Jason Statler
The feeling in the Commodore Ballroom on Friday to see Sloan, with Dirty Beloved opening, was not unlike that of a high school reunion. No coincidence, as the band now has the distinct (if not rare) pleasure of celebrating their 20th anniversary.
Two decades on and the band can still deliver a strong show. Crunchy drum-and-guitar rock outside with a soft, melodic indie-pop centre on the inside, Sloan is as delicious now as they were when the now-defunct magazine Sassy featured them as one of the original bands in their “Cute Band Alert” column. Sure, 20 years is a long time but really the guys look (and sound) no worse for wear. Though the tour is ostensibly to promote new album The Double Cross, the overall tone of the night was celebratory – for both the band’s longevity and their dedicated fans. The extensive set was a healthy mix of old favourites and soon-to-be new ones.
Patrick Pentland looked dapper in a short-sleeved Oxford with a vest and fedora, the green in his tie complemented by the green shoelaces in his black Doc Martens (so ’90s!). Jay Ferguson still maintains his clean-cut boyish charm (“Sloan’s Sweetest Member“) and Andrew Scott (who allegedly taught Matt Dillon how to drum for Singles – so ’90s!) is still the strong, mostly quiet guy behind the drums (except for when he switches with Chris Murphy). Murphy still manages to rock a perfectly shag-edelic rockstar coif that seemingly dances around his head every time he moves it, like it was cut by angels. I mention this to him after the show and he is astonished. “Really?” This is the worst haircut ever. My girlfriend cuts it!”
The graduating class of Sloan was decidedly unironic: guys wearing hats were doing it to cover up thinning hair, girls in heavy-framed glasses were wearing them because they wanted to see. The conservatively dressed fellow beside me bobbed his head and moved awkwardly until the first chords of “The Marquee and the Moon” (from the 1999 album Between the Bridges – so 90s!), at which point he went ballistic.
“This is my favourite song! Oh my God, I can’t believe they are playing this!” he exclaims, and I believe I am witnessing a moment in this man’s life in which he is filled with a level of joy he rarely gets to experience. For the rest of the night he seems looser, grinning from ear-to-ear as he jumps up and down when not chanting “Slooooo-an!” along with the rest of the class.
I hope that after the show he went home and went all the way with his girlfriend.
More Sloan concert photos:
Dirty Beloved concert photos: