Imaginary Cities, Foam Lake, Boats and bad show reviews

Have you ever wondered why we don't write reviews about "bad" Canadian indie shows and bands?

There are several reasons. For one, we've had a long-standing policy of giving bands the benefit of the doubt. Do you perform your job perfectly every day? Neither do bands. Do you think your work should be judged by that one off day? Neither should bands.

Occasionally, we hear from friends or Facebook that a band is "bad." That happened with Saskatoon's Foam Lake, one of three bands on the bill at Windsor's Phog Lounge on Thurs., Mar. 21. They rocked through a generally tight, enthusiastic set with strong vocals. Songs like "True Hearts" and "Baggage" show they can hit the radio-friendly mark. We'd encourage them to be more confident about the "experimental" listed along with alt rock on their Radio 3 profile and evident on their album, because there's some potential there.

Sometimes show quality is affected by extenuating factors: sound, technical difficulties, illness, border issues that leave band members behind. Instead of deeming these "bad" shows, we're usually impressed by the musicians' dedication to overcoming those factors. They've even resulted in some magical moments. The drummer for Imaginary Cities (Winnipeg) had to fly home for a family emergency just before their show. They were apologetic. We were entranced. The lack of drums let the vocal synergy between Marti Sarbit and Rusty Matayas shine, and we all enjoyed providing the percussion, hand-clap-style, for "Ride This Out."  A true case of less is more.

Why have we been using "bad" in quotation marks? When it comes to music, "bad" is just as subjective as "good." Some people would have called Al Tuck's show in 2011 "bad." But we were utterly charmed by his shambling demeanor, entertaining ramblings and brilliant music. Boats (Winnipeg) on Thursday is another example. Lead singer Mat Klachefsky's falsetto on helium is already polarizing. His delivery is apopletic; so is the band's alt pop occasionally, but ultimately we find it intriguing and creative.

The truth is, we don't write reviews about "bad" shows because we rarely seen them. Really. We're into our fifth decade on this planet, and both us have a long background in music and radio. We've seen hundreds of shows. We know bad when we hear it.

Sure, negativity sells. Like a car accident, it's hard not to slow down to look, or read. But we're not here for the page views. We're here because we love Canadian indie music, and the hard-working bands that play it.


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