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Soul Asylum at the Red Robinson Show Theatre

Soul Asylum tour

Soul Asylum at Red Robinson Show Theatre, Nov 6 2009. Kevin Statham photo.

Review – Soul Asylum at the Red Robinson Show Theatre, Coquitlam, Nov 6 2009

– review by Carl Spackler/photos by Kevin Statham

We were moving, passing every car on the highway. The rain was thick on the windshield, like some gremlin was standing on the hood spraying it with a hose. I leaned closer to the glass and it looked like the little bugger was leaning on the hood ornament, with a gnarled green thumb over the nozzle. I thought I could make out the lit end of a stogie clenched in his teeth, but it was the brake lights in front of us. My driver yelled and my face bounced of the glass as we hit the brakes hard, my Caesar spilling all over the crotch of my pants. Somewhere in the dark, the devil gremlin laughed.

“Damn your eyes, man, watch the road,” I yelled. He said nothing but pulled a hard right and we bounced over a curb and into the parking lot of the Boulevard Casino. I burst from the cab of the truck, fists balled up, ready for anything. My driver jerked his head around wildly looking to see what I was defending myself against, but nothing emerged from the black.

“Let’s hit the tables, I feel lucky,” I barked. “Do you have your paycheque?”

“Yeah, Carl, but we’re late and you don’t look so lucky standing there in the rain red-eyed with a clamato crotch.”

I could only hiss and curse under my breath. My driver also neglected to mention we were here to review a gig, we had no tickets, we weren’t sure if we on the press list, and on top of that we were in Coquitlam. Coquitlam! Fuck! What did Alec Guinness say about Mos Eisley? We booked through the lot to the box office. I knew I had to pull it together for talking to the face in the booth, but my brain was reeling from the effects of all day drinking session and the fungi we had ingested to counter the effects of all the tequila was now running full speed through my cerebellum.

The Face was not happy we had no ID, so I played the indignant card and tossed out a few VIP waterhead names I was dimly aware of. It worked and we were in. The place oozed class – low and none. But the beer was cold and the seats were good, even if there were a handful of mooks around us who looked like refugees from a lakeside bar in Kelowna circa ‘86.

My driver yelled, “What the fuck is wrong with these people?” and a few blue hairs moved to some empty seats, of which there were many. Red Robinson and some and soft rock dj from Merritt introduced the band by saying, “Who remembers ‘Runaway Train’?” I shuddered and let out a long, loud moan. The driver was visibly agitated.

Soul Asylum hit the stage just in time. Dave Pirner and Dave Murphy – they were both wearing the same clothes since the last time I saw them in ’95 or so when they played the Commodore with Uncle Tupelo. This time they had Tommy Stinson with them. Stinson banged on his P-Bass like the North American Paul Simenon that he is, in step with a 400-lb black man [Michael Bland, former Prince drummer-Ed.] on the drums. They played a few new songs and looked uncomfortable and stiff, and then they played “Runaway Train” and half the crowd left. Which seemed to cheer the band up, and then they started to tear through the back catalogue.

Michael Bland Soul Asylum

Soul Asylum at Red Robinson Show Theatre, Nov 6 2009. Kevin Statham photo.

I went up front and Soul Asylum blew through “Cartoon”, “Easy Street”, and “Spinnin’”, and I was transported to a time when this band ruled my world. Their town had a lot in common with mine and I picked up the signal from across the prairie. How many towns or times could produce that much good music that fast? The ‘Mats, Husker Du, the Jayhawks, and Soul Asylum. Name me one town in the last ten years that has put out so many classic albums? And now Soul Asylum is in this exceptionally un-rock ‘n’ roll venue, and playin’ to no one. It’s a long way from the Presidential Inauguration [in 1993 the band played the first inauguration of Bill Clinton-Ed.] and dating Winona Ryder to a Coquitlam casino.

Soul Asylum tour

Soul Asylum at Red Robinson Show Theatre, Nov 6 2009. Kevin Statham photo.

During the encore, Murphy remarked about playing Vancouver with the Stretch Marks and the band’s then-drummer catching scabies from some girl’s bed at punk-rock crash pad. After a long, loud, drunken, sweaty gig we passed Tommy Stinson at the roulette table picking up a couple of Asian hookers, and I thought, “Looks like another member of the rhythm section will be catching something in Vancouver. Well, Coquitlam.”

19 responses to “Soul Asylum at the Red Robinson Show Theatre

  1. 11 years ago  

    Yeah, I didn’t really get this whole scene even in the 90s, when everybody else was eating it up at the trough with Kurt et all. (Although “Live Through This” still stands up as a great album, IMO.) But I remember the following quote because it reassured me that I wasn’t entirely alone and that there were others like me…

    You are permitted to bow down and worship my weirdly amazing ability to recall random things said by Beastie Boys:

    (From Time magazine, July 4 1994:)

    Late last year, Mike D of the white rap trio Beastie Boys published a review of the rock band Soul Asylum that displayed about as much restraint as Jack Nicholson shows to motorists who cut him off in traffic. “White music by white people for white people,” Mike D mockingly wrote about the band. “This is why most white people suck.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981035,00.html#ixzz0WKr9giM4

  2. 11 years ago  

    “There’s also the hovering sense that there are about a zillion bands on the planet that are better at funk and punk than the Beastie Boys. One of those groups is Soul Asylum. “

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,981035,00.html#ixzz0WPdFJnRa

    I remembered that interview, but not the last line. It seems particularly appropriate to this article. In their heyday Soul Asylum rocked bars across the Midwest with a ferocious earnestness that people of the place and time could really appreciate. As Runaway Train and Ill Communication taught us, this type of period from a band is not permanent and should not be taken for granted.

  3. 11 years ago  

    Oh, Snap!

    Honestly, though I’m far more inclined to listen to any Beastie’s album 10x in row than any Soul Asylum one. That’s always been my meter.

    Thanks for playing, Jason. 🙂

  4. 11 years ago  

    Well, yeah, the Beastly Boys were right, it is white music for white people. Just like Dag Nasty, T.S.O.L, The Descendants, The Meat Puppets, etc. were as well. The Beasties were jews in NYC trying to be black; Kurtis Blow, Bad Brains, The Meters, Whodini, etc. Which is more authentic? Which is better? Soul Asylum made at least two great lp’s and then the major labels watered down their mojo. The Beasties made two great records Paul’s and Check your Head and then turned to shit faster than you can say “I’m Mike D”, [which I hope I never ever have to hear that guy say that again in my life.] I love the Beastie’s influences, impeccable, but their lp’s, which I really dug when they came out, they sure don’t hold up. I can’t go back. If I’m gettin’ funky now let it be Rufus Thomas, Bobby Byrd or Funkadelic. But Soul Asylum, didn’t pretend to be anything other than what they were, four kids from Minne. And their lp’s “Hang Time” and “The Horse…”, still stand tall at the Spackler Ranch. But I am, of course a white man and it was made for me.

  5. 11 years ago  

    Love Soul Asylum. Saw them do a three-night stand in some crappy Wpg bar in like 19something-and-something. Each night was different. First time I saw them was one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen (at 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis). Couldn’t imagine that energy translating to Red Robinson Show Theatre so I didn’t go. Should I have?

  6. 11 years ago  

    Wow, Carl, we should have a Rock Star throwdown to work this out diplomatically.: I’ll do ‘Sabotage’ and you can do ‘Runaway Train.’

    I freakin’ love the Beasties and probably listen to some every day. There’s always Beasties on my iPod, and I like to keep my hits random. Tis how I roll – every once in a while I need a fun, quick punch of funk sweet rhymes. (IMO, one of my faves, “Hello Nasty” still completely holds up and is an authentic, mature, textured departure from earlier albums.)

    But then again I’m a Jew who spent some time in NYC, so really their music is made for me.

  7. 11 years ago  

    So you admit that in your opinion the Beasties have had one good song since 1991. See were talkin’ about the same thing, Soul Asylum is in the same boat. But I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that the only Soul Asylum song you know is Runaway Train. But Runaway Train ain’t on the lp’s that I wrote about. For the video showdown I’ll pick ‘Cartoon’ off Hang Time, check that one out. I think anyone can dig that one, and if not, well, guess we be talkin’ in different languages. But give it a listen, that or something off ‘Made to be Broken’, hell, I can see the vid now: A full moon, me bombing some hills on my Logan Earth Ski, ripped 501’s, black Chuck’s, Malt liquor,big carves, big smile. Yeah, I’ll go toe to toe with any Beastie track ya got Darlin’,

    Much love,


  8. 11 years ago  

    Carl –

    I’ve only ever encountered ‘Sabotage’ in Rock Star, but for all I know there’s more out there.

    ‘Hello Nasty’ was the last album I got into, if for no other reason than I lived with a guy who owned it. That being said *that* album still pretty much rocketh, and if ‘Remote Control’ exists on Rock Star I have no problem schooling you with it.

    And by that, I mean I “could put you out of your Misery.”

    I ‘d show you a good time and then show you the door,


  9. 11 years ago  

    You sound like kind of a self-indulgent moron if you ask me. I don’t really care how much trouble you had getting to the venue, nor does anyone else. More than 50% of the article is about yourself and not the show you were supposed to review. I also think it’s quite rude to put a numerical figure on somebody’s weight or write libelous things about what someone else may or may not have been doing.

  10. 11 years ago  

    i love(d) Soul Asylum, i held them dear, as dear to my heart/soul as The Replacements and Husker Du. they were always more accessible, just hanging out in Minnie or Winnipeg. a band that would unfurl the hottest Marvin Gaye cover, Sexual Healing, and the most poignant “Only Women Bleed” Alice Cooper. and then it happened, Runaway Train, and their 15 minutes. and, i always write about me. sincerely, The self-indulgent moron. keep on writing about yourself!

  11. 11 years ago  

    Hey Carl –

    I gotta agree with Sara here; you were totally self-indulgent with this one. That being said, really, what else you got to write about at a Soul Asylum concert?! ZING! 😉

    The part about “you” feeds directly into the experience of the band. That’s what makes for a fun review.

    The moron part? Can’t say. I make a point of not judging people based on their concert reviews, lest I, too, be judged.


    PS: Beasties rule! Down with white music for white people by white people! (Ducks tomato being lobbed at head.) 😉

  12. 11 years ago  

    Wow how many uptight people read this stuff? Me self indulgent? Fer sure. Have you read your Billy Bragg review?

    P.S. Foghat is not prog.

  13. 11 years ago  

    Carl –

    Please stop trying to make me cry.

    It just makes it hurt more when I laugh.

    And I never said Foghat was prog, I was quoting Billly Bragg. Personally, I make a point of not labeling people, music, or things. That kind of judgment is not cool.

    Although I will support and agree with those who do.

  14. 11 years ago  

    I’m glad you’re laughing, fun, good times is my whole thing. That and taking the piss… And when the Bard of Barking judges Foghat incorrectly, you being the responsible rock journalist that you are, look him right in the eye and let him know that ‘Slow Ride’ is no Space Ritual.

  15. 11 years ago  

    “I’m glad you’re laughing, fun, good times is my whole thing. That and taking the piss… And when the Bard of Barking judges Foghat incorrectly, you being the responsible rock journalist that you are, look him right in the eye and let him know that ‘Slow Ride’ is no Space Ritual.”

    I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, but I do know that your first sentence is a run-on. You are a moron.

  16. 11 years ago  

    Sara –

    I believe what you quoted in your comment was actually directed at me and a review of mine.

    Also, please stop calling Carl a moron. He’s making excellent progress and your name-calling is not just unproductive, but also cruel.

    Keep up the good work, Carl!

  17. 11 years ago  

    Listen people, I know Carl, and I love Carl, but Carl is not making progress, excellent or otherwise. He’d be horrified if you thought he was. And as for Rachel – I have not seen such grace since Jackie Kennedy shimmered amidst the colonnades of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Bravo!

  18. 11 years ago  

    “I believe what you quoted in your comment was actually directed at me and a review of mine.”

    I know he wasn’t talking to me, I just saw the run-on sentence and decided to call him on it. He seriously gets paid to be a writer and he used a run-on sentence? Whatever. He’s a jerk and this is a piss poor excuse for a concert review. That said, I’m done wasting my time here. Goodbye.

  19. 11 years ago  

    Sara –

    One of the neat-o things about the interweb is how colloquialisms and informality can work in its context, offering the reader a more “casual” experience.

    I think that’s what Carl was going for with his “run-on” sentence.

    For the record, run-on sentences don’t make you a jerk. Fucking Marilyn Monroe behind your wife’s back – that kinda makes you a jerk. Even if it’s your birthday and you’re Mr. President.

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