Monday, May 4, 2009

Horseshoe Hootenanny: John Doe and The Sadies

Concert Review: John Doe and The Sadies
Sonic Boom and The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto
Thursday, April 30, 2009

You know how when you read a really good book, and then see the movie and the movie didn't quite live up to your love of the book? Or when you are at a restaurant and you eat some apple pie, but its not nearly as good as your mom's apple pie? Its not a completely fair comparison - your interpretation of a novel verses a director's film interpretation, or mass produced restaurant pies verses your mom's secret recipe. But you compare them nonetheless. This is sort of how I feel about The Sadies recoded music verses seeing The Sadies live. Yeah, their albums are good, but the records don't come close to the awesomeness that is a Sadies live show. Thus, I was uber excited that I got to see The Sadies with and without John Doe twice on Thursday, April 30, in Toronto.

I darted from work in the pouring rain to get to Sonic Boom for John Doe and The Sadies in-store show that evening, promoting their new album Country Club. Though my leather shoes were soaked through to my socks, it didn't stop my toe tappin' as Doe and the boys happily played through five songs from their new album. Doe was chatty and jovial , and his voice sounded terrific. In fact, in terms of country music, Doe's voice sounds a lot better live than on the record. The Sadies were a tight quartet as usual, with brothers Dallas and Travis Good singing backup in the places where women sang backup on the album (not that the boys sounded girly at all). Dallas rocked his killer electric guitar that has his name splayed over the fretboard, while Travis and Doe played acoustic guitars. The audience was thrilled, and as I looked around I spotted a smiley and drenched Greg Keelor in the corner sporting sunglasses and a yellow rain slicker. The performers mingled after the show, but I had to bolt home to change into dry clothes and forage for food before part two.

Sonic Boom (in-store) Mini Set
  1. I Still Miss Someone
  2. Husbands and Wives
  3. It Just Dawned on Me
  4. Stop the World and Let me Off
  5. Are the Good Times Really Over for Good
Buy: Country Club (2009)

Photos by Ryan O'Shaughnessy from his photo blog.

The rained stopped in time for me to head over to the Horseshoe Tavern for the 10:30 start time. Local Toronto roots band The Pining was in the middle of their set when I arrived, and the crowd was so chatty that I could barely hear the all-woman quintet. I hate that! The crowd was an odd mix of people, including many in the over 50 age category who I am assuming were there to see John Doe. I overheard one man behind me say that he took two days off of work to drive to Toronto from Rochester, NY, just to see Doe and The Sadies.

I didn't know how the main act would proceed. The Horseshoe web site listed two sets, and I was hoping one of the sets would be The Sadies doing their original tunes. My hopes came true when the foursome took the stage and blasted into an hour set of 15-18 (I lost count) tracks of kick-ass surf, gospel, alternative, and instrumental rock, leaning heavily on their 2007 release New Seasons. By the end of the first hour I already had my $17.50 ticket price worth of entertainment. And there was more to come!

The Horseshoe Tavern
Set I - The Sadies
(Very rough set list because I don't know the names of all of the songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. But its hard to concentrate on the show, drink beer, and keep a detailed set list all at the same time. I clearly need more practice.)
  • Lay Down Your Arms - Stories Often Told (2002)
  • First Inquisition, Pt. 4 - New Seasons (2007)
  • Anna Leigh - New Seasons
  • Higher Power - Pure Diamond Gold (1999) (Note: every time I see The Sadies, the audience always breaks out the wacky tobaccy during this song. No wonder Dallas referred to the crowd as "Delightful Crazy Bastards." I love Canadians.)
  • What's Left Behind - New Seasons
  • The Trial - New Seasons
  • The Story's Often Told - Stories Often Told
  • The 400 - Tales of the Rat Fink (2006)
  • Ridge Runner Reel - Tremendous Efforts (2001)
  • Tiger Tiger - Stories Often Told
Higher Power.mp3
Buy: Pure Diamond Gold (1999)

The Trial.mp3
Buy: New Seasons (2007)

The 400.mp3
Buy: Tales of the Rat Fink Soundtrack (2006)
(Totally unrelated note: This is the soundtrack to the documentary on custom car legend Ed "Big Daddy" Roth, which was very coincidentally on cable (Bravo) the same night as the Horseshoe gig. The Sadies scored the film with original instrumentals and surf rock, and all of the songs on the album are named after clubs and bars where they have performed. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that The 400 is in Minneapolis, MN.)

Roughly 15 minutes after the first set, John Doe joined our heroes for a little hootenanny. "Warning, there will be country and western music tonight," he said. "Stage dive at your own risk." Unlike an X show from Doe's past, there was no stage diving here, but a lot of country wallowing and heartache taken mostly from the new Country Club album. Now this is what I hoped Country Club would sound like. High energy, soulful country. The Good brothers continued singing backup, but this time mixed up the instrumentation with Travis switching between fiddle and a couple of electric guitars, and Dallas swapping between two different electrics.

I was standing about six people deep from the stage, slightly to the left and closer to Travis. He had some bad-ass guitar solos. There were some guitar geeks in front of me with their mouths hitting the floor. I don't know anything about playing guitar, but Travis did some technique where he makes his electric sound a bit like pedal steel. The geeks in front of me said, "wow, that is really hard to do." Then they shook their heads and gawked in awe some more. And the Good bros got to sing lead on a few tracks that didn't make the Country Club cut. Travis sang the Jimmy Martin bluegrass standard "Free Born Man" while Dallas sang something slightly faster than the speed of sound (see track 11 on the set list). The audience was treated to a few songs from Doe's past, "The New World" from his days with X, and an amazing version of The Knitters "Call of the Wreckin' Ball." These tracks fit in perfectly with the country and/or western theme of the second set. Despite the potential for crying into one's beer due to the heartbreaking lyrics of many of the songs, it turned into a uplifting night of music from a punk legend and a fireball backing band.

Set II - John Doe & The Sadies
(mostly from Country Club except where noted)
  1. I Still Miss Someone
  2. It Just Dawned on Me
  3. Help Me Make it Through the Night
  4. Free Born Man - (Jimmy Martin Cover)
  5. A Fool Such as I
  6. Husbands and Wives
  7. The Losing Kind - John Doe, Black Snake Moan Soundtrack (2007)
  8. 'Til I Get it Right
  9. Stop the World and Let Me Off
  10. Take These Chains from My Heart
  11. Note: I have no idea happened here. Doe said, "Dallas, can you sing us a pretty one?" Then there was two minutes and thirty seconds of country spaz-rock. At the end Doe said, "That was pretty. Pretty fucking fast!" Holy crap.
  12. The Cold Hard Facts of Life
  13. Night Life
  14. Workin' Man's Blues (Merle Haggard Cover)
  15. The New World - X, More Fun In the New World (1983)
  16. Are the Good Times Really Over for Good
  1. Sudbury Nickel
  2. There Stands the Glass (Webb Pierce Cover)
  3. Call of the Wreckin' Ball - The Knitters, Poor Little Critter on the Road (1985)


Jan Kristoffer Dale said...

Great review Aimz! I'm spinning "Country Club" right now. Cool album indeed. Thank you for sharing.

RMR said...

cool review Aimz. Just want to give the tidbit that Freeborn Man was originally written by Mark Lindsey of Paul Revere and The Raiders who were also the first to record it. Not many people know that as the song has become a bluegrass & country rock standard....but started it's life with americas best garage band.

I'm willing to bet what dallas did with the guitar to make it sound like a pedal steel was use the B-Bender. Invented by Byrds members Gene Parsons & Clarence White and made famous by the playing of Clarence White. Dallas is probably does the best b-bender licks since Clarence White!

RMR again said...

Another tidbit about Paul Rever and The Raiders is that they recorded Louie Louie the same day and in the same studio as The Kingsmen. Their version was actually more popular in the Northwest area (where both bands were from), but the Kingsmen version broke nationally, got investigated by the FBI....etc...

Sorry to stray so far...but great review nonetheless!!!

Rockstar Aimz said...

Thanks for the info RMR! I love learning about the origins of music. Love me some Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Nazz Nomad said...

nice job-
I am seeing John with X in NYC at the end of the month- saw him solo about a year back during the Hotel Ghost tour.

Looking forward to it!

LD said...

Awesomeness Rockstar, captured perfectly. Totally wish I was there. Now, I just need an email from someone telling me they recorded the show and boy does it sound great.

FYI 1, the 400 Bar is indeed in Minneapolis.

FYI 2, RMR is correct about the B-Bender, which I've discussed at length on the Adios Lounge. However, it was my understanding that Dallas had the BB, not Travis. Hmmm ... (twiddles handlebar mustache whilst introspecting) ... interesting.

FYI 3, "country spaz-rock" is a genius descripto of The Sadies. I love it!

Anonymous said...

Nice reviews. Just wanted to let you all know two videos from the Sonic Boom in store are up on my you tube page here:

Two more videos will be up tonight. Enjoy!

Rockstar Aimz said...

To LD - per FYI 2, part 2. Yeah, I probably mixed up their names. I was just listening to the guitar nerds in front of me. I am truly clueless about all things guitar related, and we were standing closer to Travis so I just assumed. :) Regardless, it was awesome.