“Man, I thought MY night was bad because I lost a brand new pack of smokes…”
– Super-bummed friend of a violent, drunken mess he has to take care of on his birthday.
Tuesday, March 20, Timmins
Our drive from Thunder Bay to Timmins, Ontario was by far the most beautiful one. Trees for miles in every direction, blue skies, one bumpy road to follow the entire way. It was downright picturesque, “postcard weather,” I’ve been calling it. Most of Canada is. We pass abandoned forestry equipment and vehicles, logging trucks full of logs, endless campgrounds with names like “Moon Over Water,” “Starry Nights,” “Crystal Lake” (actually) and about a hundred billboards with Shania Twain’s huge, flawless, smiling face watching over us. We then have a long discussion about which one of her songs was by far the catchiest and most inspiring. After much arguing, we settle on “Man, I feel like a woman,” and you can bet it was in our heads the entire night. I dare you to listen to it and try to forget about it.
We arrive at Victory Tavern and it is full of old men, trying to relax after a hard day of work. It’s one of those classic situations where the bar has been booked for an all-ages show after 8:00 pm, so us kids proceed to load-in and sound-check during happy hour and annoy absolutely EVERYBODY. Like, we can literally feel the death-stares from the patrons and the bartenders that are there just to work and maybe have a couple beers and unwind. One skinny girl in the corner, who is apparently a regular and on some kind of substance, approaches me while I am setting up my amp and tells me to play her a “Disney” song. I ask “which one?” and she says in a furious and sassy tone “You’re the musician, YOU figure it out!” And then storms back to her friends in the corner. I am left confused and let down, my hopes way up and crushed. I was mentally preparing an Aladdin Classic.
The show begins with a band who, along with their original tunes, play some amazing Propagandhi and Broadway Calls covers. It’s pretty nostalgic and there is even a clumsy, miniature, circle-pit-like movement for about 20 minutes, in which the kids knock over tables and spill beverages on each other. It is very entertaining. I love all-ages shows, but inside of a bar, where you can drink if you’re old enough, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. I would have to bet there was at least $500.00 worth of damages by the end of the night. It didn’t seem to bother anyone.
We play directly after. The room is sweaty and sticky and has been cleared out since the first band stopped playing. We open up our set with an older, “punkier,” song of ours, “Let’s Get Sentimental” and it seems to do the trick and get some of the locals back inside. It is a ridiculously fun set, and we are the loudest band we have been all tour. At one point, Dan leans over to me and says “I just keep turning up a notch after every song, it’s awesome.” We make good friends with the sound-tech for the night, and a few people in the bar, including the bartender, who kept giving me free Canadians all night. All I could handle, apparently. I still wonder what I did or said to make that happen, as she seemed pretty angry with the bands the whole night. Best not to question such miracles.
Greater Than Giants plays an absolutely phenomenal set after us, and the crowd of 100 or so kids go insane. The clumsy circle-pit I described earlier is now a full-on raging, sweating, spitting, monster of an indoor mosh-pit and there are kids hoisted up to the ceiling on the shoulders of their friends. This kind of thing always makes me laugh, in a nostalgic way, and also cringe. People running around flailing in an enclosed space always yields a few intended and unintended injuries. Surprisingly, no one is badly hurt. I narrowly avoid a broken ankle by thrusting a big guy in a Lagwagon hoodie forward into his pals. I limp out of sight like the old man I am slowly becoming (he stomped it hard, I swear). Greater Than Giants have been here a few times before on previous tours and it so amazing to see such die-hard fans. As I’ve said before, they are a hard-working, charismatic bunch of dudes who write great pop-punk tunes, and they deserve everything good coming to them.
We make a sluggish load-out through the narrow side-door of the bar. There are crowds of people still outside the venue around the doors, smoking and drinking, one gentleman in particular, who is drawing a lot of unnecessary attention to himself. He seems to be intoxicated beyond the point of reason and suffering from the effects of some kind of other substance. Just ask Rick James what he thinks. He is fondling and threatening young pregnant girls, using rather vulgar language in which, as much as I want to share some of the brilliant and colourful combinations of words and phrases, I cannot disclose, and seems to be a generally violent individual all around. It his friend’s birthday, a rather young and nice dude who has now taken cover in the safety of our van, hoping he won’t have to babysit his out of control companion. We consider taking the gentleman who is seeking refuge in our van, but sadly, cannot. We wish him luck and tell him to call the cops if things get too out of hand and not to worry too much if it’s your friend who gets arrested and that it’s for his own good.
Also, if he’s reading this, he should contact us at once because we definitely didn’t exchange any contact info and forgot his name. Give us a shout bud, let us know how you made out!