The Weakerthans / The Constantines / Roy

The Weakerthans / The Constantines / Roy: live in Seattlelive in Seattle (2003)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 5

Contributed by: prankishprankish
(others by this writer | submit your own)

The day couldn't have started on much of a sadder note. The passing of Johnny Cash and John Ritter had struck a chord with everyone familiar with their work. After months of sunshine in Seattle, the weather was showing signs of the all-to-familiar rain. And, to top it all off, my date for the.

The day couldn't have started on much of a sadder note. The passing of Johnny Cash and John Ritter had struck a chord with everyone familiar with their work. After months of sunshine in Seattle, the weather was showing signs of the all-to-familiar rain.

And, to top it all off, my date for the show cancelled on me.

Tonight, the Graceland had a double header. An early show consisting of No Use For a Name and None More Black, and the second show being the one I'm reviewing. Before the show, John K. roamed the line outside, and most seemed completely unaware of his presence. I tried and tried to think up a clever introduction, though the best I could muster was to wave and smile like a giddy schoolgirl. That seemed enough for him, and his brief smile back was enough to make me question my heterosexuality.

The doors for the Weakerthans show opened late, and a restless crowd waited until 10:30 or so before the first band took the stage.

Roy, a local group, started things off. Think Weezer (in a good way) with a touch more speed. Having never heard of the band before tonight, they certainly piqued my interest as a band to check out in the near future. They began with an obligatory (and deserved) tribute to Johnny Cash and John Ritter, and the show was underway. Their sound was very tight, fast, and overall surprisingly catchy. A great way to start off the night, and already my spirits were lifting.

After a short set from Roy, the Constantines were next up to bat. They opened the show with the fan favorite "Shine a Light", and didn't let down the standard set by that amazing song. Though some of the crowd seemed hesitant to participate at first, the lead singer literally forced them to with sheer will. He aggressively slammed the microphone stand on top of a front speaker, leaned into the crowd, and sang with all the energy his raspy voice could muster. Their set included the other two songs I most wanted to hear; namely Insectovora and Nighttime/Anytime (It's alright). The ceiling at the graceland is incredibly low over the stage, so when the singer stood on the monitors, he would literally be pressing his head against the top of the showroom. The Constantines showed incredible stage presence, and an awe-inspiring talent with their instruments. As absolutely fantastic as their album is (without question, one of the best of the year), it still cannot do their live show justice. They emit the sort of raw emotion that will jump down anyone's throat and get them into the show.

After a huge ovation for the Constantines, the Weakerthans began to tune. The line for the bar was intolerably long, so I chose to lean against the wall and wait it out. After a trip to the godawful Graceland bathrooms (with the ridiculously overpowering smell of urine and feces reminding you that the bands here have yet to hit it big) the unmistakable and irreplaceable voice of John K. Samson could be heard. After a quick mic check and tuning session, the Weakerthans tore into their first song.

The Weakerthans set spanned all of their releases, most heavily favoring Left and Leaving and their new release, Reconstruction Site. The most notable songs being A Plea From a Cat Named Virtute, Our Retired Explorer, and an amazing rendition of Without Mythologies that ended in an incredibly explosive instrumental (for those who think the Weakerthans can't rock to hell out, you'll be proven wrong at their live show). Crowd favorites Left and Leaving, Aside, Watermark, and Psalm for the Elk's Lodge Last Call were all included. It was an incredibly well balanced set, and only a few notable songs weren't included (I would have loved to hear My Favourite Chords and Maryland Bridge).

At one point in the show, John K. hit a wrong note on guitar. After a few laughs from himself and his band mates, he handed 20 dollars to a person in the crowd. He then explained that each time he makes a mistake like that, he gives someone money as motivation not to do it again. He asked the person to use the money for a Constantines shirt, and then went right into the next song. It's the cute, awkward, and entirely unique parts of John's personality that really set the Weakerthans apart from the rest of the good music out there.

Over the course of the set, the Weakerthans showed their experimental side. They played everything from bottles to a whistle tube (the kind you swing over your head to make a whistling noise), and John's clever songwriting never fails to bring a smile to your face.

After a brief but insistent encore, John K. came back out for his solo rendition of the controversial One Great City. Then, once more joined by the band, they played another four fantastic song set and called it a night. At this point, in spite of the passing of Johnny Cash and John Ritter... and in spite of going to the show entirely solo... my face hurt from smiling. With lines like "Comment allez-vouz se sois? Je suis, comme ci comme ca/Yes a penguin taught me french back in antarctica", one can't hold back a grin at each one of John's mini story songs.

For those of you who haven't heard the new Weakerthans or Constantines albums, I couldn't wholeheartedly recommend them enough. And, for those of you who are iffy about seeing this show--don't be. Both the albums and this tour are an essential part of music in 2003.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (September 20, 2003)

I think Gifts is a better song, wish they woulda done that one too.

Anonymous (September 20, 2003)

i always wondered why the weakerthans didnt adopt "gifts" like they did with "anchorless" and "letter of resignation." and its chris, not jord, that sings the rest of propagandhi's stuff. "showdown" is an excellent song. and its definitely more than just a black and white two-topic discussion.

ive seen the weakerthans 3 times before and they always make me smile a lot. i cant wait for this tour to hit philly.

jasmine (September 19, 2003)

The other song on Less Talk, More Rock features John as well - it's called Gifts. And no, he hasn't been in Propagandhi for something like seven years.

Anonymous (September 19, 2003)

if you think showdown is about two different things, your thinking in black and white terms.


Anonymous (September 19, 2003)

That showdown song on how to clean everything is fucking crazy as hell cuz it's 2 songs in one. Jord sings about the government, and John sings about a girl.

StratManX (September 19, 2003)

Damn, and to think I almost went to this exact show but couldn't because of a damned car accident.

prankish (September 18, 2003)

I know for certain that John K sings Anchorless, and has about 1/3 of the lines in Showdown (from How to Clean Everything)... Anchorless is still used as a Weakerthans song (as it is John's).

Anonymous (September 18, 2003)

I definitely like propagandhi more, although can anyone tell me whether jonh sings anchorless and that other song that definitely isn't jord on less talk more rock? Is he still in the band then? That CD is soo fucking hard to decipher, half of the lyrics for the songs they don't actually sing

jasmine (September 18, 2003)

I was at the Weakerthans CD release show in Toronto, and it was amazing. Their set was fairly similar to this show, although we were treated to a second encore of My Favourite Chords. And I agree, their live version of Without Mythologies is incredible. Everyone should check 'em out live - it's definitely worth it.

Anonymous (September 18, 2003)

"They better play "illustrated bible stories for children" in chicago."

---I definately doubt it, although I've probably seen them about a half-dozen times and they do put on a very diverse show. I think I've heard them play almost all of their songs, which is great for 6 shows. Can't wait for Cleveland.

Anonymous (September 18, 2003)

I just saw The Weakerthans last night
at Chain Reaction in Ahaheim.

One of the best shows I've seen them play ever, do not miss these guys
if they come thru your area.

You will not be dissapointed!!!

prankish (September 18, 2003)

I was surprised that Utilities didn't end up making it to the album (Reconstruction Site). I haven't heard a full band version of it yet, though I haven't looked...

Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

anyone know if a full band rendition of "utilities", played by john samson on the cbc thing, exists?


Anonymous (September 17, 2003)

just saw this show in SF. Amazing performance, capped by a four song encore. Their new rendition of Without Mythologies is F'n magic. Very tight set.

travis (September 16, 2003)

or bry or whatever. like i know him or something.

travis (September 16, 2003)

yah, brian did it in seattle and portland.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

They better play "illustrated bible stories for children" in chicago.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

constantines and the weakerthans are both amazing bands, everybody should check them out

and they're even better live, bands like them remind me of why i listen to music in the first place....

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

i'm seeing this show tonight. roy kind of reminded me of the weakerthans when i saw them at krazy fest, actually. what's with ex-members of botch all being in indie bands?

hungryjoe (September 16, 2003)

Q: Does Bry Webb (Constantines) do the saxaphone thing to kick off every show? I've seen him do it twice...I just don't get it.

Anonymous (September 16, 2003)

whatever, weakerthans rule! fuck those other bands

prankish (September 16, 2003)

I dunno, a few of the Roy songs struck an instant "Weezer" chord with me. Particularly when they went into melody, it seemed very River-esque. Granted, the lyrical side of things are worlds apart... I was still immediately reminded of an upbeat Weezer.

travis (September 16, 2003)

i dont think roy sounds anything like weezer.

this show was fun. But not as much fun as the Portland or Vancouver shows.

CallingLondon (September 16, 2003)

i dont' know about the constantines album, but the new weakerthans album is sick. they're streaming the entire thing over the internet for free, and after i heard it i decided it would be the next cd i purchase. it's just really really good upbeat indie rock.

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