The Weakerthans / Jenn Grant

The Weakerthans / Jenn Grant: live in Torontolive in Toronto (2007)
Anti- Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5

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

I'm not exactly sure why, but for some reason I've always regarded listening to the Weakerthans' music as a rather private and personal experience. Perhaps it is the way the band's lyrics are like a concentrated Alice Munro story or the fact that John K. Samson's voice always retains a tender tone. .

I'm not exactly sure why, but for some reason I've always regarded listening to the Weakerthans' music as a rather private and personal experience. Perhaps it is the way the band's lyrics are like a concentrated Alice Munro story or the fact that John K. Samson's voice always retains a tender tone. Either way, my only other experience of seeing the band live -- while good -- was a rather alienating event given it was in a festival-like setting on my university campus. Rightly or wrongly I came into the show looking for something that was ying to the yang of what happens every time I slip on my headphones to Fallow or Reunion Tour.

Christine Fellows, who I believe is of intimate relation to Mr. Samson, kicked off the night with a short set. She played piano and sang a gaggle of good-humoured folk-pop songs and was backed by a fiddler and a percussionist as well as the Weakerthans' rhythm section for a portion of the set. It appeared as though the guys from the Weakerthans were learning as they went song from song, which helped to create an informal and inviting atmosphere.

After a quick setup, Jenn Grant and her band took the stage. I wasn't familiar with her music previously but her quite rocking folk stylings made me a fan before long. Her voice also reminds me a bit of Jolie Holland, which is a plus any way you look at it. The most interesting aspect of the set was how she used the twinkly music from a music box in their opening song. Chemistry between the band members was fluid and professional and they garnered decent crowd response and involvement even if it seemed not too many other people were that familiar with her. One aspect of their set that struck me was Jenn's often awkward stage banter about ladybugs, amongst other things. This could be quite a problem for some bands but this night it came across as adorable and quite endearing (grumble‚?¶grumble‚?¶sexist! grumble‚?¶grumble). I definitely recommend checking them out if they come to your town.

Judging from the response sparse guest spots of the headliners garnered in other sets of the night, I had a feeling there was some very excited members in the crowd that night. When the Weakerthans' gear had been setup and the lighting was adjusted -- even before the band took the stage -- the crowd acted like you do in elementary school when the power goes out. The band chose to open up with "Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call," which I thought was strange because I figured they'd pick a more upbeat number; from the great sing-along that occurred, I guess it made sense though. This was indicative of the rest of the night where it seemed as though the majority of the crowd really sunk into the material from Reconstruction Site. When the band performed "Benediction," Christine Fellows joined them onstage. Although her vocals were somewhat inaudible behind the band, I then became aware that the quality I had been searching for was there. The family atmosphere between all the bands on the bill and the respectful exchange between those there to play and those there to enjoy made me -- and I'm guessing many others -- feel remarkably welcome and included. Unlike some bands where you only go to watch the front-person, the Weakerthans all showed considerable showmanship, especially during "Aside" when Greg Smith ran up to Stephen Carroll and they held their guitar and bass above their heads in a ferocious dual attack.

After they finished their set, the band waited a courteous amount of time before returning to play the encore, much to the crowd's delight. For "Bigfoot," a trombonist was brought on stage (who returned to play trumpet I believe) and from the pleased crowd reaction and "tromboner" joke, I gather there must have been a few third wave ska rejects amongst the hipsters and other gentlefolk in attendance. After the band finished their encore, people slowly started to filter out but the rest of us stayed and cheered for more, and the band decided to oblige us in kind. Samson announced that he would be playing a Replacements cover much to my shock, and they proceeded to play a surprisingly worthy cover of "Swingin' Party." As we were leaving the show I told my friend that I creamed my pants when they played that song...she said she could tell‚?¶

All in all, the show far exceeded expectations, and they gave an even distribution of their last three releases. Even if they only threw one bone in their set list to fans of Fallow like me, the night served to show just how strong their entire body of work has been. Already delightful aspects like the bassline to "Night Windows" are simply transcendental live. From the night I learned that being sober helps you remember things a lot better, people really seem to hate the Peg, Jennifer Jason Leigh is just as fun to sing out loud as it seems, and John K. Samson is quite the dish with a beard (grumble‚?¶grumble‚?¶sexist! grumble‚?¶grumble).

Set List (complete/in order):

  1. Psalm for The Elks Lodge Last Call
  2. Civil Twilight
  3. Our Retired Explorer
  4. Benediction [w/ Christine Fellows]
  5. Reconstruction Site
  6. Aside
  7. Night Windows
  8. Relative Surplus Value
  9. Sun in an Empty Room
  10. Left and Leaving
  11. Tournament of Hearts
  12. The Reasons
  13. Time's Arrow
  14. History to the Defeated
  15. Plea from a Cat Named Virtute
  16. Encore the 1st:
  17. Bigfoot
  18. One Great City
  19. Pamphleteer
  20. Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist
  21. Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure
  22. (Manifest)
  23. Encore the 2nd:
  24. Swingin' Party [Replacements cover]
  25. Watermark
  26. Everything Must Go


People who liked this also liked:
The Frenetics - Grey Veins to the Parking LotFifth Hour Hero - Not Revenge...Just a Vicious CrushCareer Suicide - Attempted SuicideMineral - The Power of Failing.Streetside Prophet - Talking to WallsJohn K. Samson - Little PicturesZero Boys - Vicious CircleNew Mexican Disaster Squad - Don't BelieveDescendents - I Don't Want to Grow UpJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

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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.
usversusthem (November 14, 2007)

Dr. Alan Grant is a friend of mine.

See, that's, uh, that's chaos theory.

SumWon (November 14, 2007)

i know a girl named jen grant.

Dr. Alan Grant is a friend of mine.

dakotacore (November 14, 2007)

I need to see these guys. The first time I had a chance, I wasn't aware of their awesomeness. I had heard of them, but never really listened to them. Then I got into them and bought everything they put out. Then, the second time they came around I was negative $75 dollars in my bank account so there was no way I could get tickets. Pamphleteer is one of my all-time favorite songs.

nate_derby (November 13, 2007)

This show was a week after I moved home from Toronto. So pissed!

usversusthem (November 13, 2007)

Oh man oh man I missed this show when it came to Montreal and I was super pissed... but if they ended with "Everything Must Go!" here too then I'm fucking insanely pissed. Great setlist though.

Deadpan (November 13, 2007)

Actually, not this Friday, the Friday afterwards. The 23rd. I am stoked.

Deadpan (November 13, 2007)

Aaah, I'm seeing these guys play Academy 3 in Manchester on Friday. 500-ish person venue. Fuck. Yes.

baseball (November 13, 2007)

missed the Weakerthans when they came by because of the Fest too :(

that's an awesome setlist for an awesome live band

WilliamHowardTaft (November 13, 2007)

i know a girl named jen grant.

SloaneDaley (November 13, 2007)

there are mp3's you can find of a show they did with Sarah Harmer at Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto from 2005, the Replacements cover is amongst the songs.

There is also a handful of songs John did solo as CBC Session

There is also a song or two of stuff he did with his wife, which I have one of that is pretty good.

SumWon (November 13, 2007)

This was the same setlist as when I saw them, sans the second encore (damn!). I made it into a mix because I liked it so much. It was the perfect balanace of tempo.

By the way, are there any Weakerthans bootlegs floating around?

WarIsPeace (November 13, 2007)

Wow, those are a lot of encore songs.

VictorIkpeba24 (November 13, 2007)

Can't wait to see them in Italy next month...

rob_rob (November 13, 2007)

I don't really like this band. I appricate what they do though.

tommytumult (November 13, 2007)

I'd give a testicle to see these guys live. Preferably in a not too crowded venue. Any takers?

billnye (November 13, 2007)

replacements cover
oh fuckkkk

SloaneDaley (November 13, 2007)

well I missed the Thermals when they were here because of pure brokeness and didn't get to go to the Fest. So I think you win scott

maverick (November 13, 2007)

Christine Fellows is pretty great.

I'm super-bummed I missed the Weakerthans here the other week; they played the same night not only as the Thermals, but the first night of the Fest 6 in Gainesville, so I'm pretty sure I was being moshed to death during Bomb The Music Industry!'s set right about when John K. Samson was doing his thing a thousand miles north.


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