Performance reminded everyone of life in September 2019, before the word ‘COVID-19’ was ever uttered
So, Saturday, for the first time in two years, I attended an in-person concert. For my first vaccine-era show, I saw the exact same band, at the exact same venue, and at the same festival as I did for my last pre-pandemic concert.
The band: Our Lady Peace.
The venue: The field at Landsdowne Park.
The festival: CityFolk.
I was not disappointed. For some reason, this mid-September Saturday night felt sweeter than it did two years ago. There was a wholesome vibe to it — it was as if we were all innocent inmates released after two years of captivity.
Attending with the Fulcrum’s podcast man Damian, our first act in our newfound freedom was to get a couple of beers. The field at Lansdowne was littered with walking Molson Canadian vendors wearing t-shirts, backpacks and light poles with the brand’s name on them. Being myself, I didn’t realize that, and my first question to the poor lady was “what do you guys have?”. She looked at me dumbfounded and pointed to her shirt, and I was like, “oh, sorry, my bad,” and then Damian proceeded to buy the first round. The beer was blessed. Why, you ask? Two reasons: one at the end of the first couple songs I could raise it, and second — well let’s rewind for that one.
You see, before going to Lansdowne, I made a slight detour. I’m addicted to Blizzards, and so I called the Uber from the office to bring me to the Bank St Dairy Queen. That was a rookie mistake. Not even ten minutes after finishing my Blizzard on the walk up Bank St to Lansdowne, and I was thirsty, and of course, I had not brought a water bottle. Hence why the beer was very blessed.
Anyhow, enough rambling — let’s get to the actual main event, which began with two radio personalities. Their jobs: get the crowd hyped and thank the sponsors. And the only reason I bring this up is that I was struck by how loud the crowd jeered the Government of Canada, while having the exact opposite reaction and cheering to the mention of the City of Ottawa — odd. But, no cheer compared to the one the guys from Our Lady Peace received when they were introduced and took the stage.
Right. So the set started off with a slow jam, which led to a new song called “The Message.” And here’s the thing: I don’t think this song was dull, but any time you play a song live that hasn’t necessarily gotten a lot of airplay, the crowd will listen, but often is like, ‘ok, get to a hit’ — but the point of all this is that opening with a new, lesser-known song is a ballsy move, and I respected that on Friday night.
Once they ended “The Message,”: Raine Maida, Our Lady Peace’s lead singer, was handed his acoustic guitar by a crew member, and immediately started playing the intro to the band’s 1997 classic “Superman’s Dead” — the crowd went crazy. And, before the last bridge and chorus, Maida made sure to slow down the song to the point where he could clearly address the crowd and salute those who, like me, were at the show in 2019. At that point, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand for the rest of the night.
Speaking of the crowd, it was obviously a little older than the audiences attending the previous night, but there were a lot of people in their mid to late twenties. In front of Damian and me was this couple who were in that age group, and the gentleman was sporting a fantastic mustache. I made the comment to Damian that he reminded me big time of Red Album’s Rivers Cuomo. With that said, both Damian and I were concerned for his girlfriend… because she was dancing barefoot on crushed aluminum cans.
Back to the music: following “Superman’s Dead,” OLP played a killer rendition of “One Man Army.” It’s at this point, with the whole audience singing “like a one man army,” that it hit me how wholesome this concert was, and how lucky we were to be there after two years of all being shut-ins.
And, speaking of lyrics, man I had forgotten how reflective some of these lyrics are.
“Do you worry that you’re not liked?, How long ’til you break, You’re happy ’cause you smile, But how much can you fake?”
Another song that really struck a chord with me was “Innocent,” and this may be just me but I’ve listened to these songs hundreds of times on Spotify and seen these guys live before, but as the crowd sang “We are all innocent”, I was like yeah, we were all the innocent victims of this pandemic.
After “Innocent,” the band played “Paper Moon,” a song off their new album. They also explained the importance of NFTs to the financial survival of young artists and how they have gotten involved with this new technology.
I would explain to you guys what NFTs are, but I’m the EIC of the Fulcrum, not the science and tech editor. Also, I have no time to do the research.
Anyhow, “Naveed” and its sick baseline were next, followed by “Run,” a new song. Then came “Ballad of a Poet” and “Drop Me in the Water,” two songs off Our Lady Peace’s criminally underrated 2018 record Somethingness.
“Somewhere Out There” and a couple new songs then followed, including a new favourite of mine called “Stop Making Stupid People Famous.” OLP then capped off their main set with their radio classic “Clumsy.”
The band took literally less than a minute-long break before coming back out for the encore. But this was enough time for me to pay back Damian and buy round two.
OLP began the encore with “5 a.m.,” a slow sad ballad which led to the audience raising their lighters… s’cuse me, check their phones with the flashlight on.
And then, to close out the night, OLP performed an intense rendition of “Starseed,” so intense that the only thing I could think of was getting home as quickly as possible and learning the song on my guitar.
And you know what?
That’s how you know it was a good show.
It inspired me (and probably others) to pick up my dusty guitar and play. If you’re an artist this has to be your goal, and Our Lady Peace achieved this on a humid September Friday night in the nation’s capital.