I arrived early and met up with two friends from the KP fan boards, and after a nice dinner at a local restaurant, we headed over to the concert area. Fortunately it wasn't too cold out, and we were able to get a place in the fifth row from the stage, but there was still a long time to wait. Among various other events scheduled as part of the "Festival of the Night", they had a DJ playing dance music (BOOM BOOM BOOM) so loud that our thyroid glands cried out in protest. When I tell you that our one moment of enjoyment out of the entire 1.75 hours of that DJ was when he played "Pass The Dutchie", you will understand the extent of our pain.
After that, we were treated to a 45-minute set by a local rock band, "Glory Fades". They had an awesome drummer, but all their songs sounded pretty much the same. They had the edgy rock band schtick going but it just wasn't working for me somehow. The lead singer reminded me of Mr. Bean, which is probably not a good thing.
Anyway, just as our feet were beginning to get completely numb, 11:20 rolled around and on came Kalan. He started with a dramatic violin intro and then swung full-bore into "She's So Dangerous". It was obvious right from the beginning that this was not some cutesy bubblegum pop concert, nor was he going to play the wistful romantic crooner. He'd brought along a bunch of middle-aged, old-school rock musicians -- two electric guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer -- and as far as he was concerned, they were going to rock.
I pause here to bring you some observations from the inimitable Shoebox, otherwise known as the Unofficial CI Recapper:
--Yo, Derek the Band Director, did you tick off a Teamster or something? Because that's the only explanation I can find for this level of sound-system crappiness at this level of professional music. Seriously, I have listened to random buskers on Yonge that had better balance than this.
(This was sadly true. When Kalan started singing, you couldn't even hear him at first.)
--Apparent dedicated quest to sabotage their frontman's vocals aside, the overall theme of the band is cheerfully indulgent - and clearly not in an "Oh, $#%^, I have to babysit the #$%&*%^@ Canadian Idol..." sort of way. Which all helps the I-wanna-ROCK mood along considerably. Except of course when one or the other bends over to talk to Kalan and they inadvertently look like they're demanding his lunch money.
(Hee. So true. Kid really does need another twenty or thirty pounds.)
The set list was as follows:
1. "She's So Dangerous"
2. "And We Drive"
3. "I Don't Want To Miss You"
5. "Nature Boy"
6. "After All"
7. "Devil Came Down To Georgia" (I hate this song, but as a showpiece for the violin it has few equals, and Kalan absolutely killed both parts)
8. "Born To Be Wild"
The concert was full of amazing moments. Kalan did a lot of violin playing, a lot of crouching, and one long segment in the middle of "After All" that made us all go o_o O_o O_O. Later, in retrospect, we couldn't figure out if he was:
a) carried away in the ecstasy of the music;
b) trying to make himself as small and insignificant as possible so as not to distract from his band leader Derek's wailing guitar solo;
c) so overwhelmed by the reality of Being On Stage With A Real Band that he had to take a couple of minutes to compose himself; or
d) praying for strength to get up and continue the show.
After watching the videos of the concert, other fans had some more suggestions, including that he was:
f) looking for the mother ship;
g) having an, er, very special moment.
Anyway, sound issues and "What on earth...?!" moments aside, it was a really excellent performance, especially for the first time out with a new band, and I've come to the conclusion that to "get" Kalan you really have to see him live. Even at its best, the CD just doesn't do his abilities as a musician justice, nor does it really reflect the kind of music he obviously most wants to make. sheryll, I know that Kalan is coming your way for Winterlude on February 12th, and the concert's free: if you have any inclination at all to bundle up and head downtown to see him, I'd definitely recommend that you do.
If you're interested in seeing some of the concert for yourself, some videos (which are really quite decent, for amateur footage) are available for download at Red Hot Topic's Kalan Porter Page (look on the bottom left under "Kitchener, Ontario").
I have also been remiss in not pointing to Shoebox's hilarious, snarky, and on the whole dead accurate review of the 219 Days CD. Our only significant point of disagreement on the album would be "And We Drive", which she liked and I described as "Horribly the undead corpse of Loverboy feeds upon the living!". However, having now seen the song performed live, I grudgingly admit that it's not that bad. At least, not quite.