A Better, Happier You

Saturday night was the Matthew Good show at the Burt.  It was excellent.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Live music and friends, a great combo.  Nice to see Matthew’s new drummer finally loosen up, last time he looked a bit wooden.  And it was good to hear the new tunes off Vancouver.  I really liked how the band reworked Empty’s Theme Park and Apparitions.  Nice to see some creativeness and hard work go into the live tunes, as opposed to just hearing recorded tracks replicated.  The sound mix wasn’t as good as last time, which was a bit disappointing.  And I didn’t like what the lead guitarist did to Black Helicopter.  But the songs themselves easily carried the show through those minor problems.  Giant was played again, which made me happy.  It’s one of those songs that just begs to be played live.

Saturday’s show was my fourth time seeing Matthew live — twice solo acoustically, and twice with a full band.  I know somebody who has seen his show six times!  Over the years there have been several bands which I have paid to go see more than once (Switchfoot, Project 86, Sam Roberts).  I admit that I am tempted to use this as a source of personal pride — it’s hard for me to resist mentioning it.  Vain, I know; I’ve got to work on that.  Anyways, whenever I get talking about music with someone, they’ll often ask me why on earth I would pay to see a band more than once. My answer is always the same: if you have to ask, I can’t explain it to you.

I think these people who ask me this often forget that each concert is unique.  No element is exactly the same: different crowd, different set list, different you, different venue (sometimes), different versions of songs.  There are so many things that make it interesting.  Heck, just watching someone exercise their musical talent should be enough to get you in the door.  But one thing I’ve learned about shows is that it’s not right to show up and take on an attitude of “impress me.”  If you’re there purely to consume an entertainment commodity, then frankly, go home.  I like what Matthew wrote on his blog recently:

In the end there are twp types of concerts – the sort during which a large part of the audience sits there as if waiting to be impressed or satisfied, and the sort that is consumed by an atmosphere of excitement. Now, guess which elicits a better response from those on stage with regards to their enthusiasm?

There are times when I’m at a concert and I wish that there was some way I could express my thanks to the musicians on stage for the countless hours of enjoyment that their music has provided me.  If I ever did get the chance to meet them, I don’t think I would ask them to sign anything or take a picture with me.  Instead, I would just look each band member in the eye, shake their hand, and thank them.  After all, music is, at bottom, immaterial.  Music is melodious air.  You can’t symbolize it with stuff.  Unfortunately music has been commercialized and turned into the “music industry” (thanks capitalism for that oxymoron) and now we think that we have to buy t-shirts and $8 beers all sorts of other merchandise in order to be a “real” fan.  Sad to say I fell prey to that idea when I was younger.  So if you want to buy a shirt, buy it to remember the good time you had, not to prove something or get noticed.

Anyway, I’m getting crusty and off topic.  One other thing that I wanted to mention was this: now that I’m in a worship band at Prov (more on that later) I am starting to gain a whole new appreciation for live music.  I am now blown away simply by the musicians’ ability whenever I see a live show.  I see and hear a lot of stuff I used to miss.  It’s funny, because the audience only sees the finished, polished end product, we assume that the show just comes naturally for the performers, but in reality there are months of rehearsals and technical details that have to be worked out.  It’s a lot of work.  Plus, in our age of iPods and CDs, we often forget that recorded music has only been around for about 120 years.  Before that, music was always live.  Most days I wish I could go back to those times.

Here’s the setlist from the concert.

  1. Avalanche
  2. On Nights Like Tonight
  3. Great Whales of the Sea
  4. The Boy Who Could Explode
  5. Born Losers
  6. Fought to Fight It
  7. A Silent Army in the Trees
  8. Black Helicopter
  9. Last Parade
  10. Apparitions
  11. Weapon
  12. Giant
  13. Us Remains Impossible
  14. Empty’s Theme Park


  1. How can anyone who loves music not understand why you would go see a band more than once. Wouldn’t everyone want to go see their favourite musician over and over? I mean, like, no matter who your fave is…be it Shakira or the Rolling Stones…if you listen to someone’s cd over and over why ON EARTH would you not want to go see them do it right in front of your face…more than once? There is nothing more exciting than a live show. It’s so SOOO SOOOOOO much better than listening to your iPod.
    and i so agree. i never go to a concert waiting to be impressed. i always get embarrassed when people in the crowd are being stupid. like that time where all those really loud drunk people were sitting behind us at a matt good show…or when they yell “PLAY INSERT-SONG-HERE” over and over again. I feel very embarrassed that they are representing our city to that particular band/artist. i go hoping that our crowd will get so into the show that the band will be able to feed off of it. those are the best concerts. i mean, unless the performers are really really crappy, have no talent, and shouldn’t be up on stage. we have a few of those in our pop-culture-obssessed world…


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