Great Big Sea

So, let me tell you about a good concert.

Last night I saw Great Big Sea, native to Newfoundland and specializing in (as you may have guessed) glorified sea chanties. It should be said that I used to make fun of this band, nay, used to dislike them entirely. I would not say I hated them, because I really didn’t; I just hated having to listen to their every CD in succession on long car trips. Coupled with the fact that I was first exposed to them shortly after Titanic came out, and that the pipes / wistful ocean tones made me either cry or throw up, depending on how long the movie had been out. But in the years since, Aunt Sue has remained a steadfast fan, and I learned enough songs that the band and I formed an amicable friendship. When she heard they were coming to town, I agreed to go to their show because I had a hunch that, with all the drums, pipes, a capella tunes and (yes) accordion-playing, they would put on a pretty kickin’ show.

I was so right.

They had me on my feet from the first song, and I stayed that way for most of the show (except for the ballads, when it feels weird to stand). The audience was everything performers dream of: animated, enthusiastic and responsive. The band cheered for us as much as we cheered for them. I was jumping up and down like a meth-head whenever they played a song I knew, which was about every fourth one or so, but I wasn’t restless enough to get bored on the ones I didn’t. I sat next to my little sister and giggled as we chose which members of the band were going to become our baby’daddy (mine was Sean, hers was Alan, for any of you who are fans; not that Alan wasn’t cute, but I wanted to give him a barette more than anything else). We put on our glasses to see the furrowed artists’ brows more clearly. We’re like librarians at a rave.

At intermission, I had cramps. [You thought I was done with the uterine-themed entries right? You should know better. It never really ends.] The line to the bathrooms was, as anyone who has been to a concert in their life knows, wrapped around the building twice. I decided to grab my ticket, run around the corner to a coffee shop, and use their bathroom instead, where there was no line and a stall all to myself. I wonder why nobody else thought to do this? Was it illegal? I felt like I was cheating. Whatever—I had time to remove my thermal (I had layered for the cold walk over, but all the dancing and cheering had made the theatre like a sauna), primp, preen, and sundry with no one rushing me along. I tipped the nice girl at the counter for not making me buy a muffin’s worth of toidy tax, then ran back to my seat. It took three minutes, tops. Just a handy tip if you’ve ever got a feminine emergency, and don’t have time to wait for the second coming of Christ to get a stall.

I really enjoyed the whole evening, actually. It wasn’t just the band, either; all the elements of the night sort of aligned to create the perfect experience: the theatre had a good location; it was the first time I haven’t had to drive over an hour to see a concert. I had a fun bunch of girls, my aunt, sister, mother and friend from out-of-town, all together and in a party mood. We were able to walk to get some food and coffee before the show. The theatre was non-smoking, a big plus for all of us asthmatics who list ‘breathing’ amongst our daily life challenges. The show itself was really just the tasty buttercream icing on the big, fat, extra-raisin carrot cake. Or what-have-you. Like when you go out to dinner with friends and forget what you ordered, or you don’t notice how long it takes to arrive, because the food isn’t the point; it’s just the reason.

As the music itself, I would like to say this: Give these guys a try. Seriously, you might like it. It may have an odd sound, but speaking as someone who has everything from spoken-word poetry albums to African tribal drums (actually, that’s not that wide a range, is it?), there’s always a band, or song, or sound out there that you never knew you liked. You don’t have to like all of it—hell, you don’t have to like any of it. But if you don’t have a strange attraction to Ordinary Day on the first hearing, I might think you’re dead inside. Or just in denial.

Besides, it’s got a beat and you can dance to it.


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