Torch Bearer

The new generation will carry the axe to the finish line.

Staring into the eyes of those she challenged
She gently put her axe down
The vibrations rattled off its body
And seemed to make a different sound;

Their protective armour was studded
And hid in it legacy
But the history was now in the books
And their shell wore only hypocrisy

She came from a different land
With different way of tread
They looked upon her, questioning,
So she opened her mouth and said,

Those are your gods you talk of, not mine
To me, they’re but influence
They taught me how to stand up
But have sat down since

They taught me how to sing
And you, how to talk;
Their spirit flows within my veins
But I choose my own cause

I’m not out to topple the stars
I merely build on the earth beneath
But bearing the torch lit in last flames
There’s mountains to go before the peak.

 

Goodbye Skepticism, Hello Alt-Rock

Canadian alt-rock band Goodbye Honolulu live at the Mansion, Kingston. Supports: Figure-8 and Fade Awaays.

Rock music lives in its clubs, bars and taverns. Anyone who has been to an “underground” gig can attest to that. There’s something about having a few hundred people tapping their feet to gravelling distorted sounds originating from an amplifier helped by a microphone, sounds that a little bar couldn’t possibly contain for any longer than an album or two; something about the dim, neon lights and black ceilings and dark walls; something about being so close to the ones trying to explain the inner workings of their minds on a little raised platform we call the stage, as they belt their hearts out, vocally, instrumentally; expressively. To anyone decrying the death and decline of rock music, a peek into its true dwellings would prove educational.

On Thursday, 24th October, Toronto-based alt rock band Goodbye Honolulu decided to give a demonstration worthy of representing the 2019 rock music scene as they opened their Fall 2019 tour at the Mansion in Kingston, ON.

They were joined in their endeavour by Gananoque punk rockers Figure-8, who opened the gig with a burst of energy, rocking out to a sum total of ten people as the sparse crowd got moving to fast paced, upbeat songs about growing up, tinged with a hint of Green Day’s 1994 hit Dookie.

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Tour poster taken from Goodbye Honolulu’s website

 

Following them were fellow Toronto indie rockers Fade Awaays, a band with a sound bigger than the venue they filled tonight, with a tight, layered wall of sound emanating from the two guitars on-stage, occasionally doubling the rhythm section to form a formidable wall of sound. (For a band that only released their first EP this January, they have some surprisingly heavy weight behind them, having opened for alt rockstars Wolf Alice and up-and-coming Canadian rockers the Beaches.)

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Fade Awaays in action on stage

Goodbye Honolulu, who had been in the crowd for most of their supports’ sets, came on stage to a well warmed and receptive audience. This band packs fully formed chord progressions and rock riffs into a neat, loud singable pop package that makes their songs so memorable. Their on-stage personality is dynamic, and guitars and basses are frequently swapped onstage as they rip through their long setlist.

 

 

 

Tonight, the band gave the crowd many songs off their yet-unreleased album, a little dose of their own political opinions, in light of Canada’s just concluded federal election (“fuck Andrew Scheer! Fuck Andrew Scheer!”), many little exchanges with the audience, and on popular demand, crowd favourite single “Typical”.

I saw Goodbye Honolulu live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto six months ago supporting Californian punk rockers SWMRS, and had thought them to be a very well organised act. This time around, in, if possible, an even more intimate setting than Toronto’s iconic club venue, the band let loose the raw energy of a band rearing to take on the notions of what it means to be a rock band as they embark on their latest tour.

Find all three bands on their respective websites (or better yet, at a North American live venue near you!)

Goodbye Honolulu: YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
Fade Awaays: YouTube | Spotify | Soundcloud
Figure-8: YouTube

Unexpected Sights

On my way back from French tonight, I passed by a building. A lot of buildings on campus are about a hundred years old, and while the design student in me is asleep, I’d eyeball it and guess that it’s Victorian architecture I gaze at every day. Victorian, perhaps, with a hint of long, painted glass windows. (Is gothic the word? I’m bad at this.)

Normally, this building is pretty lively, because there’s always a lot of activities going on in there: athletics, debates, conferences, music, and it even has its own theatre with independent productions, but you can normally only hear the general low din of voices mixing with the chilly air above.

Today as I passed by, I heard a rumbling piano. It rose right above anything else in the building, and mind you, it’s not exactly small, and it sounded really lively and good.

I figured I had some time to spare. So I followed the sound.

Thanks to the sheer volume, it was pretty easy to follow. I quickly ruled the theatre out: it was only pianos, but they were in perfect synch. From the general direction of the sound, I could also guess that it may have been the choir in practice or something. My friend had wanted to attend a session there once, and they promised they had no auditions, so we’d gone over to try it out. No auditions meant they couldn’t kick us off the choir.

We went. Twice.

And managed to be late both times, and decided it would be rude to interrupt thirty people and a conductor in full throaty flow.

So we didn’t actually make the choir.

Even though they had no auditions.

It’s a rare distinction, I suppose.

So I’m expecting to see the whole lot of them in evening practice, belting out gospels to the piano.

But instead, I walked by an empty room, a single person at the piano. I slowed down as I walked by because I could actually not believe that was only just one person.

One guy, lost in his practice, at the piano.

The room is sort of like a horizontal long hall, with three doors. As I passed the second, I saw the guy.

When I passed the third, I saw two people, a guy and a girl, practicing a waltz.

And here I’d expected the choir.

I don’t know, that kind of made me smile, so here I am blogging about it. It was nice to be proved wrong like that, and this was quite a wholesome little thing. It kinda does help make your day when you’ve just finished your last class of the day at 8 in the evening, I suppose.

After that, I just slowly slipped out of the hallway to the main exit, careful that I didn’t disrupt the magic they created in there, and continued my walk home.

And yes, I realise there is absolutely nothing particularly exciting about my own life right now, unless you consider midterms ‘exciting’ (you freak), and watching people slowly die on the inside just by looking at their todo list (high priority only, by the way).

If that’s your jam, drop by and say hi in the comments. If that isn’t your jam, drop by and say hi anyway, I’d love to talk! (That’s an alibi, you realise? Just distract me. Another five minutes. Just a few more, alright?)

 

Relevance.

I just realised I’ve been blogging for more than a year.
It’s also true that this is probably the fifth time I’ve realised this.

What it also means is I’m not a baby blogger anymore!
I’m more like a toddler blogger now.
But I’m still crawling.
And I’m still breathing.
(And drooling and puking?)

I stole one of those lines off a moderately new Green Day song, and it’s not the drooling bit!

What do you think of Revolution Radio? Are Green Day back with a bang? I personally felt like Dos and Tré, their last two records (part of the Trilogy) went on a bit endlessly and were not the best Green Day can do. They’ve done better. For a band to make two major comebacks, two back to back concept albums, and still remain relevant is no mean feat, and it’s true, as Billie Joe Armstrong said in an interview last year that the band had nothing to prove to the world.

On the ‘relevance’ bit, you’ve got to acknowledge the fact that unlike many bands of the age, Green Day haven’t lost their sound to synths and computer-related experimentation. They’ve always stuck to their guns, the classic holy trinity, the guitar-bass-drums, although that could be used to argue against them. You can’t say they haven’t experimented with sound and genre though, that’s something you’d admire about Green Day ventures like American Idiot and Uno, which took Green Day into a delightfully funky upbeat, rhythmic-centric territory, sporadically sprinkled with a guitar solo. (I could mention Kill the DJ here.)

I almost needn’t mention the well-documented, almost famous (in related circles, of course) transition the band took from the (so-called) jaded Warning (’00)  to American Idiot (’04), ditching their would’ve-been seventh studio album, more generic and titled Cigarettes and Valentines after its mastertape was stolen, a retrospective blessing in disguise, to find a new sound, new look, and new direction with American Idiot. (Along with embracing the make-up and rockstar life, a marked departure from their punk Gilman street roots, Green Day also went political on this album, something they hadn’t done ostensibly uptil Warning.)

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Pre- American Idiot Green Day.

 

Such a band has nothing to prove, yet they keep proving, time and again, that they are relevant, a force to reckon with, and are here to stay.

(Just a tiny detour: it’s sad to see that artists who were once powerhouses of influence are struggling to remain relevant today. Take Beck on his new album Colors, which is a sort of resurgence on the maverick’s part, a cry of happiness at being, and a return to, relevance. (From an interview I read, an incident a few years ago where Beck, Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins and Paul McCartney weren’t considered “stars” enough to be let into a backstage event at some awards may have contributed to this fear.)
I’ve talked to people who have never heard of George Michael or of AC/DC. And now with Brian Johnson having stepped down due to hearing problems and original rhythm guitarist and cofounder Malcolm Young’s demise this week, I don’t know what dystopian future we’re headed for. RIP, Malcolm, in a decade it may be better up there!

…so, back to today if we will?)

A band like Green Day has nothing to prove. But looking at their latest stuff, whether it’s just the music, or the music videos, Green Day are more relevant than the morning daily even, which is honestly depressing at times. A lot of times.
Billie’s songwriting is spot on as always, Mike’s keeping a neat rhythm and Tré’s tight rhythm mirroring the guitar is only showing again why the band and fans love him so much.

But then again, that’s my opinion. What do you think? Is Bang Bang as good as I feel it is? Are Green Day back? Or were they never gone in the first place?