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Cows and Silver Dollars

January 19, 2010

On Friday, James Marsh and I went to go see the cover performers from this weeks NOW MAGAZINE, Catl.

It’s Friday night and we’ve been drinking whisky and rum and beer. But it’s almost 9 o’clock, and tomorrow is a deadline day. Our original plans to watch Mr. Scruff’s dj set at wrong bar fell through. The tickets sold out because we didn’t think to purchase any in advance, and that brings back to a Friday night, drinking with a friend from San Fran. Portland. Hipcentral USA.
The Now Magazine Cover was advertising for a country-blues show at the Silver Dollar Room. Considering the day’s earlier bad luck ticket purchasing experience, I didn’t have high hopes for getting in. But we decided that it was worth making a seedy slide down to the north-west corner of College and Spadina, to where an arrow signals the music room between a homeless shelter and the Hotel Waverly. Weekly, nightly, hourly rates.
When we get there, we are relieved to find the bar is mostly empty. Sara Fitzpatrick, the band’s back-up singer, percussionist, key-board player looks bored and pouty sitting at the merch table in an empty room. A real lady of a woman calls out for another round in a slur. We look at each each as the bartender rolls her eyes, and says to either us or no one in particular “Yeah. Aren’t you a classy one”.
This ain’t no high class martini bar.
The doors have been open for over an hour now, but with nothing to show for it. We decide to jog back to the Kensington Market apartment, wherein all our prepaid booze is waiting for us. We arrive at the doors again, minutes before the headliners begin their set. The scene has changed now. The bar is packed. The second surprise of the night is that the crowd is not predominantly hipsters. It’s an edgier, sloppier, and more rough around the edges crowd. This show is more facial piercings per capita than your average Friday night musichall.
The set starts out with 4 shots of whisky, and 2 beers on top of Johnny Larue’s drumkit. He comes out, consumes about half of this, and the laudy music starts.  Lo-fi was the night’s aesthetic. My music column co-captain yells into my ear, “The equipment sucks! I can’t make out anything this guy’s singing!”  I yell back, “He’s an ex-punk rocker! He’s doing it on purpose!”
The beginning of their set was throwbacks to a twangy, nasally Delta blues sound, but as the show went on, and maybe just as importantly, as more drinks were consumed, Catl transitioned into much sloppier, uptempo punk music. Which was something that we were not expecting. The music began to streamline, and while maybe the sound was more authentic for it, the upplaying of the band’s stylings came at the cost of downplaying their talent.
But these thoughts came to us later, listening to the fresh-pressed cd and record release after the show. We weren’t with the majority of the crowd, loose-limbed dancing to music that was beginning to sound more and more like the Hives with sequins. As the excitement mounted into a pocket of the world’s most friendly moshing, we found ourselves joining in to the at once familiar, and completely new-sounding music that we were discovering.

Later at home, making notes on the experience in the morning’s first hours, we would be surprised again to hear more of a blues sound come through in the recording. An old blues sound, before rock and roll, based on more of a 2’s sounds than a 4’s sound. More listening would bring out more influences. But it’s funny, the conclusion of all that 3 AM bedroom arguing whether or not the band sounded more like delta blues, the Hives, the White Stripes, or newer Oasis material, the more I found myself considering the possibility that I really have never before, heard music quite like this.

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