Review and photos – Sloan at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Dec 15 2009
– review by Rachel Fox/photos by Brandon Broderick
The only thing better than going to see a band you’re a Superfan of is going to see a band with a serious Superfan.
The Superfan in question is my friend Kim, who in addition to being a serious Superfan (her daughter’s middle name is “Sloane”) also has the unusual distinction of having managed both myself and Sloan’s Jay Ferguson at record stores – albeit in different chains, coasts, and decades. Needless to say the excitement at getting to see her Rock Star Boyfriend (Patrick Pentland) play was palpable.
A quick and cold tour to promote their latest EP “Hit and Run” wrapped at Vancouver’s legendary (and fantastically festive) Commodore Ballroom last night. The venue is a favorite of both fans and bands, as this Tweet from @sloanmusic can attest.
After some back-and-forth texting, Jay (sweetheart that he is) managed to meet us upstairs to greet me and the Superfan and engage in some delightful conversation, which included discussing inaccuracies on his Wikipedia pages (let it be known that contrary to popular belief, Jay does not, in fact, like shrimp).
Pre-show texting combined with one-on-one time and looks from curious onlookers were enough to make me feel far more righteous than I have any business feeling – perhaps my favorite way to feel. Kim and Jay caught up while I smiled and nodded, trying my best to look as self-righteous as I felt.
Ever the polite Canadian, the tour-worn Jay occasionally found himself turning away from us to cough into his elbow. My Jewish Mother superpowers kicked in and I offered him a sachet of Emergen-C from my purse, which he accepted. I am sure this random act of kindness on my part saved the show. In addition to being self-righteous, I am also useful.
We talked a bit about the tour and the insanely cold temperatures encountered along the way. I learned that Sloan is both pragmatic and creative when it comes to dealing with the mechanical failures (quite possibly temperature-related) of their tour bus bathroom—beware of touring Canada in winter, all-girl bands. Oh, the glamour…
As per Superfan’s prediction, the eager crowd (the biggest I’ve seen at the Commodore in a while) chanted “SLO-OAN!” while waiting for the headliner, which made a wise choice in kicking off the set with the infectiously poppy, piano-laced “Take it Upon Yourself”, the first song off their new EP. The track is classic Sloan and despite the song’s newness the crowd was amped and receptive from the get-go, sealing the deal for what would prove to be a fun, high-energy night.
The set was an even-handed sprinkling of popular singles, fan-favorites from every album, and songs from the new EP – they even managed to sneak in every song from “Hit and Run”. Their first big hit of the night came a few songs in, with the eerily melodic “The Other Man”, followed by a seamlessly smooth yet rock-hard wall-of-guitar transition to “Money City Maniacs”, which was so kick-ass that I never even had the chance to feel like I was in a Future Shop commercial.
At this point Superfan felt the need to switch sides to get a little closer to her Rock Star Boyfriend, so we headed to the other side and fearlessly took over a reserved table. The undeniable lure of boys-with-guitars was a constant for the rest of the night; while I must confess I appreciated Sloan’s sex appeal, I myself did not get any Rock Star Boyfriend vibes. To do so would have been in clear violation of the established Girl Code of Conduct, and I do not roll thusly.
That said, I did get heated when drummer Andrew Scott and guitarist Chris Murphy switch-hitted for a few songs – I appreciate rock star flexibility – and got increasingly excited when they did yet another hard-and-fast transition from “Everything You’ve Done Wrong” into “Who Taught You to Live Like That?” Several minutes of cheering and pounding on tables produced a few more songs for an encore which included a duet with Lexi Valentine, from opening band Magneta Lane, and the raucous crowd-pleasing closer “Good in Everyone.”
A memorable night indeed and great to see the members of Sloan all playing and getting along so well, despite any potential backstage tension associated with Chart Attack‘s inclusion of all four members’ in their annual readers’ poll for the “Throw Your Underwear Award for Sexiest Canadian Male” (currently, Murphy is at the top of Sloan’s panty-pile). Surely, any competitive angst these veteran Canadian rockers may be dealing with is mitigated by “Sloan’s Grey Hair” being ranked so highly in the “Sweet Happenings in Music This Year” category.
Setlist – Sloan at the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver, Dec 15 2009:
Take it Upon Yourself
At the Edge of the Scene
Believe in Me
It is Never
Don’t Believe a Word
The Other Man
Money City Maniacs
Get Out of Bed
The Great Wall
Where Are You Now?
A Sides Win
Oh Dear Diary
Fading Into Obscurity
Everything You’ve Done Wrong
Who Taught You to Live Like That