A couple of weeks ago, Radiohead announced that they are coming to Toronto in June, and, naturally, I panicked. You see, Radiohead are on my list. No, not the list of famous people I would totally do, the list of bands that absolutely must be seen if I ever get the chance. I have a feeling that a lot of people, fanatic music lovers or not, have their own list of musicians that they’d give their proverbial right arm to see if they could.
It’s important to note that the list doesn’t take into account current popular standings. Aren’t Radiohead not cool anymore? Have they fallen out of hipster favour? Some say so, but part of what got them on my list is their undeniably strong back catalogue of recordings, and that goes for anyone on my list. “It” bands or hip, mysterious mix-tape maestros have to prove themselves before getting on to my list, and that’s the whole point. These artists are supposed to say something to you regardless of popular opinion, age or whether or not they’ve started to wear over-sized Cordobés hats and speak-mumble their precious lyrics.
Why did I panic when I heard about Radiohead’s imminent visit? I’m just about to finish an intense year of schooling at Trebas Institute, and as someone who’s been living off of rice and coffee for the past year, $80 a ticket is not exactly in the budget. But thus is the nature of The List – for these acts, money is no object.
Here’s my list as it stands right now. Feel free to share your own in the comments below.
You wish you could look as odd as me and still be called a genius.
More of a standing command to see rather than an actual need, since I saw him a few years ago. His performances these days are generally not incredible, but he’s Bob Freaking Dylan, so who cares?
It was recently announced that this ambient experimental rock band will be playing Montreal’s Osheaga festival in August, so I’m hoping that means they will be touring some other spots soon as well. Maybe if I start visualizing them at Massey Hall now, the power of my desire will make it come true come this fall?
Stevens's show at Massey Hall in 2009 was out of this world! (You can call me names, but please don't throw things at me.) - Photo by Colleen Hale-Hodgson
Like Bob Dylan, I’ve also recently seen Stevens perform, but that’s only fueled my desire to see him again. There’s something exceptional to the way that Stevens’s mind works, and it’s a wonderful thing to behold the odd, magical sounds he conceives be performed by real living people.
I’m sure that when I finally do see these electronic music pioneers I’ll be standing still, trying to burn every movement on stage into my memory. The rest of that audience can just dance around me, and judge me for not participating. (Digression: can I just say that people need to stop doing that. If you tap me on the shoulder at a show and tell me I should be dancing, it should be legal for me to punch you in the face. This is weird music and we are weird people, so we should be left alone to enjoy said weird music in the weird ways we are most comfortable with.)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
This is a heartbreaking one because the Montreal-based experimental rock band played a whole whack of shows last summer in Toronto and I didn’t go to any of them. I was even in town and not doing anything those days (it had a lot to do with me thinking that they were all sold out and not having the cash to buy a scalped ticket). They’re also broken up, so those shows were supposed to be a one-time deal – I’m not holding my breath for a second wave of reunion shows.
2009’s Veckatimest is one of the most inspired records I’ve ever heard. I’m just twiddling my thumbs waiting for this group to finish their next album, release it and tour so that I can finally see them in action.
Dreaming of a reunion never sounded so badass. I know that the pseudo-replacement Wild Flag are now kicking about, but by most accounts it is just not the same as this late ’90s and early aughts riot grrrl act.
They could play at my house any day.
Bands I’ve checked off this list:
Portishead – Seen twice! Once in New Jersey during All Tomorrows Parties I’ll Be Your Mirror event, and once at The Sound Academy.
Jeff Mangum (Neutral Milk Hotel) – Also seen twice. Once at one of the sweltering Trinity-St. Paul’s shows in Toronto, and again at the same ATP event as Portishead.
The National – Also seen twice (Massey Hall and the ACC), although I would see them again in a heartbeat.
Arcade Fire – Seen only once at the Toronto Islands show, but it was one hell of a show.
Death From Above 1979 – Seen once at one of their reunion shows at The Sound Academy; spent most of the show trying not to be crushed by the sweaty masses.
Jens Lekman – This.