Wow, I don’t know how to start, so I guess I just will. The Barenaked Ladies were awesome! They’re crazy, a bunch of certified nuts I tell you! So nice to finally see them perform. My first memory of the fabric-phobic-fivesome are from 1992 when their debut album Gordon came out. They were on MuchMusic in a self-produced bit demonstrating what one could do to get a better seat inside Toronto’s SkyDome. You know, like scaling the walls. That kind of thing.
I instantly went out and bought their album. A couple years later, I inherited Rock Spectacle from my then-girlfriend, and received Stunt as a birthday present, both of which are excellent.
So the moment I found out the ‘Ladies were coming to Orlando, I made plans to go see them, come hell-or-high water. Twelve years is a long time to wait!
Monday afternoon I was in a bit of lurch, since I was planning to sit with Cam and Melissa, but they’d already left for vacation and we had only made tentative plans about where and when to meet. I made it to the TD Auditorium by 6:30pm, after a little more than two hours of driving. 30 mins early for meeting Cam and Melissa. It was okay, though; I used the time to walk around a bit. The TD Waterhouse Centre is a gorgeous building, with 1000-foot-wide staircases rising 20 feet up to the doors, on both North and South sides. On the East side, a graceful flying walkway connects the staircases to each other and overlooks the will-call/ticket pick up area.
I made my way down to the will-call area, where I was supposed to meet Cam and Melissa. I had just my small backpack me, containing my wallet, camera, and book. Since I had found my bearings and still had 25 minutes or so to go, I took out my book to read a few pages in the twilight. That lasted, oh, all of two minutes. It was just too much fun to people-watch; needless to say there was plenty of Canadiana about, which always helps an ex-pat feel at ease. Oh, who am I kidding… this time of year, Orlando is practically a small chunk of Canada, regardless of the presence of your & my favourite Canadian-folk-pop-rock superstars.
Just after 7pm I met up with Cam, Melissa and part of Melissa’s extended family — Sid and his son Jeff — and we made our way through the gates. After picking up a brand-spankin’ new BNL t-shirt (woo woo) we made our way to our seats for a warm-up by brand new Aussie guitar-vocal one-woman sensation Butterfly Boucher, whose album had just come out two weeks prior. She had a real great stage presence about her, and a good sense of humor to boot. She played perhaps five tracks and then made way for opening act Howie Day.
After seeing a video of Howie creating several tracks by sampling his acoustic guitar for percussion, bass and melody — live — back in December, I was really looking forward to his set; unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of that (it was a straightforward setup with a drummer and two other guitarists), but that’s not why I left disappointed. Why? Because the levels on the bass were way too high, downing out his vocals, as well as any ability I had to communicate verbally with Cam, who was sitting beside me. Later that night he’d also pull a bait-and-switch: promising to sign his CD if you bought it (for sale in the lobby) and then running off just 15 minutes after the show ended, leaving dozens of people with unsigned CDs. Not cool!
Anyway, between Howie and BNL, while folks were at the washroom and buying Bud Light in plastic bottles, we were treated to video of Ed grape-jellying an entire loaf of bread together. This was a follow-up to 20 minutes of rock-paper-scissors shown earlier while Butterfly was setting up.
To make a long story short, the ‘Ladies’ performance was nothing short of stellar. Even though I knew their live shows were good, it didn’t keep me from being thoroughly amazed. They did an tribute to all-things-Orlando, and halfway through they played a trivia game with the audience. Do you know which member of the band recently had laser corrective vision surgery? No, I didn’t know Ed did either, and neither did the guy who they asked, but he got a t-shirt anyway. Nice guys, those ladies.
Some two-dozen songs (including a number choreographed to include shopping carts), a couple parodies of Britney Spears and two encores later, the show was over and it was time to head home. After some negotiation with the security guards, I managed to make it around to where Howie was signing autographs. After watching him flee, I headed out the door toward my car, and was in the process of sidestepping my way past a crowd I thought was composed of Howie and a few more autograph-crazy fans, when a police officer politely informed me of my “nice try” and motioned I stepped back. Uh, whoops! Turns out I had turned onto the street where the BNL tour bus was parked, and that this wasn’t a crowd for Howie at all but BNL superfans hanging out back, waiting for a chance to meet the band. I had a hotel waiting for me and with Tuesday off work, nowhere to be, so I decided to join them. It was straight out of Almost Famous. We were bandaids.
Hah. Except we wait around /after/ the show in order to inspire. *grin* There were about 70 of us, and, after about an hour or so, one-by-one, Ed, Tyler, Steve, Kevin and Jim came by and chatted with all of us. Wow, I was totally star struck, tongue-tied; I think I managed to stammer “The show was totally great!!!” in two syllables and wore a smile much too large for my face…. but I got to meet the Barenaked Ladies! Hee hee.
During the wait I got to talking to some very cool folks; Carrie and Kendra were two of them, and when the batteries on my digital ran out, they offered to take a couple pictures and email them to me. I’ve already got them, and, well, they’re proof positive about that smile I was talking about. Heh.
Epilogue: I spent the next 9 hours until 11am lying in king-sized bed. Oh, man, did I ever sleep well. I definitely need to toss this futon I’m sleeping on right now. Spent the day in Winter Park and had an absolutely great time at an Irish restaurant for lunch and reading in the sunshine in a gorgeous park (lined on one side by a railway line and the other by a quasi-European cobblestone-lined downtown strip filled with cafes, bookshops and restaurants), and then took a leisurely drive back to Sarasota, arriving just after sunset. Best one-day vacation I’ve ever taken.
To come: the pictures, of course. Bed for now.