THE GOSSIP + The Starlite Desperation @ Main Hall

By Jordan-na - Canadian Invasion - 12/03/2004

An Evening With an Indie Music Critic

9:17pm: The show was advertised for 9pm, so like any seasoned critic, I show up late. The lady at the door informs me it will start between 9:30 and 10pm.

9:38pm:.I re-arrive, a dollar poorer courtesy of a Caramilk bar bought from a Pakistani who showed me his photos of that famous British wax museum. I climb the stairs to enter the small, square room that is the Main Hall. It’s pretty non-descript: high purple ceilings with a blue polka dots painted above the bar. A couple of mismatched tables and chairs are lined-up on either side. A lonely red bulb glows above the bar. Two speakers flank the stage and a wide projector screen hangs behind.

9:50pm: A couple of bodies trickle in from the cold Montreal night. Frozen noses, pink cheeks. The smell of cigarettes and lack of anything happening starts to get to me. Suddenly, home in my pajamas watching late night CBC seems cooler than this. The real frustrating thing is that I look particularly good tonight but there is no one to impress. Ah, the solo life of a concert reviewer. Guest lists should always be “plus one.”

10:02pm: I look around the room, bored and desperate for someone, anyone to start the show. I hope perhaps someone will recognize me as a dissatisfied music critic and get something going in order to prevent a bad review as a result of my foul mood.

10:14pm: I’m still waaaaaaaaaiting. . . Shows are NOT FUN when you’re cranky, alone and have to catch the last metro home. I watch two women kill the date going on in front of me by sitting at the couple’s table and imposing themselves on the conversation. That couple had already been waiting here longer than I had, so it was a double-kill for that date. Ouch. I wonder if the guy was Elimidated at the end of the evening. He downs the rest of his beer.

10:25pm: I amuse myself by staring at the blinking green light on my cell phone. There are instruments on the stage, evidence that a band has been here and will hopefully reappear. The tune of “Mission: Impossible” comes out of the crappy speakers. How appropriate. It seems impossible that this show will ever start. I’m beginning to hope it won’t, just because I’ll resent the band for making me wait, no matter how fucking good they are.

10:31pm: The place is filling up. What are they waiting for? The second coming of Jesus? I consider driving to Pointe-Claire and bringing Sam Roberts here. Perhaps he could be my saviour.

10:44pm: Start playing with my gum while it’s still in my mouth. Very sad. The couple in front of me have run out of conversation. Ooh, wait. . .are those band members I see on stage? Nah, must be a mirage. Fuck, my mirage let’s out a pretty damn loud guitar riff.

The Starlite Desperation kicked it off hardcore as if they’ve already been playing for a half-hour. They are a standard four-guy grungy rock band complete with dirty T-shirts, shaggy hair and loud guitars. Their philosophy probably goes something like: “The louder we are, the better we’ll sound. Right?” The lead singer’s brown bangs brush his eyes as he screams and I half-expect him to dig into a rendition of “Getouttathaway!” He refers to the crowd as “Montreal,” as if this small room of people standing with their arms crossed represents the whole island. The count in here is fifty, tops.

Okay, so the opening band is pretty decent, playing that punk-ish screaming rock that appeals to me. I’d probably like them more if I was in a better mood. Unfortunately they present nothing special or outstanding. Their music is mildly satisfying at times and the lead singer has appeal. He contorts his face and poses, stretching his long limbs for the crowd as he sings his indie heart out, falling to his knees in rock ‘n ecstasy. But by the last two songs, I got over my crush. The magic is gone, I figured them out. Oh well. It was nice while it lasted. They are done by 11:24pm.

11:42pm: “Well am I / still waiting/ for this world to stop hating. . .”

11:50pm: The Gossip finally takes the stage. “Happy to be back since Gay Pride” announces lead singer Beth Ditto and kicks into her vocals. Her voice is sweet but strong and she throws out lyrics with the bouncy rhythms that pop and hop together in a catchy beat. She enjoys interacting with the crowd, chatting candidly about nylons and hating cold weather.

Their music is bubblegum meets bar brawl. They deliver a tight, finely tuned sound with stripped-down drumbeats reminiscent of “Seven Nation Army” mixed with funky dance beats. No one sat or stood still. I wish I didn’t have to leave, but the last bus was coming. I drop my gum in the ashtray and walk out into the cold Montreal night. 12:03pm.

Time spent watching headlining band: 13 minutes. Time wasted: 3 hours.

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