Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Crash Test Dummies [2022]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Crash Test Dummies live at Bluesfest 2022

Artist: Crash Test Dummies
When: July 14th, 2022
Where: SiriusXM stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park
Context: So I jumped back into live music with both feet over the last few weeks. It was my long-awaited return to Canada’s largest outdoor music festival, aka Ottawa Bluesfest. I had bought a full festival pass back in March 2020, just before everything went to hell, and when that year’s edition was cancelled, I just transferred my pass to the next. And then, the next – this year. I ended up attending five of the ten nights and saw plenty of great sets by acts as diverse as The New Pornographers, Lucy Dacus, Garbage, Run the Jewels, and Rage Against the Machine. But my favourite of all? A side stage headline set by Crash Test Dummies. It was partly nostalgia, I admit, but they really did put on an entertaining show. I had their debut album, “The ghosts that haunt me”, on cassette tape back in high school and I near wore it through with the amount of times I played it on my Walkman. And though it was good, I wasn’t as big a fan of their sophomore release, mostly because they were floating away from the folk-rock sound that I loved from the debut. So I never did see the group perform live. A wrong I definitely righted a week ago tonight. The set was heavy on that sophomore release, it was their biggest success, of course, but I was extremely happy to hear them pull out four tracks from that debut, including the cover song below and their big Canadian hit, “Superman’s song”. For many moments on that night, I was seventeen again and screaming along to lyrics I had never forgotten.
Point of reference song: Androgynous” (Replacements cover)

Three of the original dummies – Brad, Dan, Ellen
Mitch Dorge on the drums
Marc Arnould, touring keyboards
Ellen Reid and Dan Roberts
Stuart Cameron, touring guitarist
Ellen rocking the accordion
Brad Roberts at the microphone

Best tunes of 2003: #29 Sam Roberts “Where have all the good people gone?”

<< #30    |    #28 >>

The sun is at its brightest just as it’s getting ready to dip behind the horizon line. There is a yellow film over everything and it is still damn hot and humid. Clothes are sticking to bodies and bodies are writhing and jumping and dancing chaotically, all tribal and ecstatic. This is how it is on the final day of a ten day music festival. You’d think the crowd tired but great performers know how to breathe life into the weary and of course, adrenaline does the rest.

It is Sunday, July 13, 2014, and there is a large crowd at the second largest stage at the Ottawa Blues festival. All age groups are well-represented. Men and women and all, and all from a myriad of different backgrounds. And everyone is into it. Of course, they are. The singer/songwriter on stage with his recently minted, full-fledged band are a good, hard-working group, truly representative of his Canadian identity and he has a cross-genre appeal.

Sam Roberts is six songs deep into his set, decked out in black denim jeans and a black denim jacket, under which you can just catch a glimpse of the black Clash t-shirt. He is sinewy and muscular, a short man with a powerful exuberance, his short brown hair and rough and tumble beard are soaked in sweat. His face is red and he is giving it his all.

“Oh the Milky Way has gone a little sour
The leaves dried and the flower fell away
I’ve been sitting, I’ve been waiting for a sign
Inhuman beings taking up all of my time”

The song is “Where have all the good people gone”. It was originally recorded for his now legendary debut EP, “The inhuman condition”, and then, re-recorded for his debut album, 2003’s “We were born in a flame”. It was a huge hit for the Montreal-born musician, the 12th most played song on Canadian rock radio between the mid-90s and the mid-10s. So everyone here knows the song and yes, they are singing along, nay, yelling and screaming along with Sam, especially every time he gets to the lines: “Montreal to Hong Kong – Where have all the good people gone?”

The crowd is one, no matter the differences between us, we are united with Sam against the “not” good people. And I’m right there with them, jumping up and down, screaming together with a bunch of quebecois that I had never met before and will likely never see again. The funky bass and drums, the dirty and groovy guitars, and Sam encouraging us all to join in the chants. And the crowd responds, deafening in its approval and belonging.

And for just a brief moment, I stop, look around in amazement, and think that good old Sam might have just joined The Tragically Hip as one of Canada’s favourite live acts. Then, I take another gulp of draft beer from my plastic cup and dive back into moment.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2003 list, click here.