This was my third time seeing Sloan perform live. They were awesome. They performed my favourite Sloan album, Navy Blues, in its entirety. There was a brief intermission when that was done, after which they came back on to perform another hour of hits from other albums. If you are into Sloan and haven’t seen them perform live yet, change that. If you’re curious about Sloan, start at Navy Blues. If you like that, contact me and we will carry on from there.
Long ass version:
About a month ago I got a message on my phone from… Sloan! Well, not really. I have an app called “Bands in Town” that makes it sound that way. Sloan was performing (in my opinion) their best album Navy Blues in its entirety to celebrate its twentieth anniversary. But wait… didn’t this album come out in ’98? Wouldn’t that make this the 21st anniversary? Ah, well. Close enough! The venue will be The Rose in Brampton, Ontario (about an hour away from me) and tickets will be $42 each. This is the making of a perfect storm. I quickly went to The Rose’s website and snatched Sarah and me two tickets in the 2nd row! I couldn’t believe it! I never get to sit that close!
What was weird though, was how after buying the tickets I didn’t really get a confirmation. I was just taken to a window that said to bring my ID and show it at the box office on the night of the performance. OK… I checked my email later and The Rose did send me something, so I saved it.
The month flies by with real-life shenanigans until the day finally came yesterday! Since large crowds and unsureness of where I’m going are great anxiety builders, I arranged to leave work early (I also had my Mom coming into town, but that is a whole other thing) to prepare. When I get home I opened the email from The Rose expecting it to confirm my intentions to just show up to the venue with an ID. It didn’t. It turns out the email was to announce that Sloan was performing with a link to buy tickets. D’oh! How many mailing lists am I on?
The FAQ on The Rose’s website did confirm that all I had to do was show up with some ID. While checking that, I got another email from them reminding me that my show was tonight. Alright, so I must be somewhere in the system, right?
When Sarah got home from work we had a quick bite to eat with Mom and off we went. Sarah was uber prepared for this event. Having already checked The Rose out on Google Street View, she knew exactly where to go and to park at their underground lot which is free after 7 PM. We parked, walked up a few stairs, and next thing you know we are in line at the box office. Freakin’ sweet.
We were about the fifth or fourth person in line when I see everyone has their phone out and a person at the booth is scanning them. Crap. What did I miss? I don’t have anything for them to scan. Just my ID. Ok, I start to mentally prepare to get hosed. I get the lousy “Hey, your show is tonight” email ready (Like that proves anything!) and my credit card out. I start searching my TD bank app to show where my card has been charged but I run out of time! I’m at the box office window.
I give her my name, she asks for my ID, she hands me tickets. LOL.
Wow! Physical tickets! I can’t remember the last time I got one of these.
We were seated by 7:30ish, waiting for the show to start. Sarah was really impressed with the seats.
Having seen Sloan a couple to times already, I knew that her favourite member of the band, Patrick Pentland, sets up towards the left of the stage. So I got us seats on the left. It made up for missing out on him last year when he had to miss the show we attended due to a family emergency.
Sarah picked up a couple of shirts and we both took a bathroom break to change into them.
There was no opening act billed but the band allowed one of their road crew members to perform fifteen minutes of his original material. This two-man group was named Silent Wall and consisted of a guitar/vocal and drums. And man… did Sloan and Silent Wall ever bust each other’s chops. Sloan’s Chirs Murphy came out and gave them a five-minute roast. Silent Wall interluded between tunes with some jabs at Sloan. Sloan, of course, went on all night about how terrible the opening act was. It was so Canadian. I loved it.
Sloan didn’t waste any time getting to the Navy Blues material when they came on. They opened with it and performed the album from start to finish. Let me tell ya, there was an incredible amount of planning that had to go into this. One of the most unique things I like about Sloan is how they switch lead vocal duties and instruments between all of the band members. Check out the band member credits on Wikipedia:
- Jay Ferguson – vocals, rhythm guitar, bass guitar (1991–present)
- Chris Murphy – vocals, bass guitar, drums (1991–present)
- Patrick Pentland – vocals, lead guitar (1991–present)
- Andrew Scott – vocals, drums, rhythm guitar (1991–present)
4 lead vocalists, 2 rhythm guitarists, 2 on bass, two drummers… and even this list isn’t complete. Because even though Patrick did most of the lead solos, both Andrew and Jay had some lead licks happening.
Usually, during a show, the shift between instruments is a very smooth one. They perform a few of Jay’s tunes, then Chris’, then Patricks, etc… which means they only need to switch instruments a few times. This isn’t the case when performing the tracklist for Navy Blues, which I’m sure was designed to make an optimal listening experience instead of what would make for the fewest changes during a live show. Between every tune was the clicks and clacks of guitars being switched over and the organized chaos of having one band member moving onto a different set of instruments. All for the benefit of the crowd who was there to see their favourite album performed. It was very much appreciated. (Also, shout out to 5th-ish band member Gregory MacDonald who handled all of the the keys and backing vocals during the show.)
Sloan took a short break after finishing up Navy Blues (As good as you are imagining that would be right now, It was that good.) and Sarah and I started talking vinyl during it. They had two albums available at the show, Twice Removed and One Chord to Another. They were $30 each which breaks my rule of not buying any vinyl outside of the $20 range. After a quick check online for what they were going for, it looked like if we were ever going to get these two gems on vinyl, this was going to be the better price. So, Sarah ended up grabbing both for us.
Sloan came back out and hammered us with the hits, solid album tunes, and continued digs at Silent Wall. Chris Murphy at one point jumped off the stage which (finally) got the crowd on their feet. We stayed that way until he told us we could sit down for a slow song during the encore as long as we promised to jump up for the final song. We did as he requested as the first two chords of “The Rest of My Life” were strummed. And then they were done.
Exiting the building one guy was having trouble opening the door to the parking garage. After he figured out it was a pull instead of a push I quiped so he could hear, “He must be a Silent Wall fan”. We had a good laugh.
BTW, We did end up grabbing the special edition of Navy Blues on Sloan’s website. It is limited to 1200 copies and expensive. But Aaron at Keeps Me Alive forced me to do it. Check the comments on his post about the box set here as proof. I haven’t opened it yet. I’m thinking of having Sarah opening it on camera to see how that goes.
I’m going to leave you now with a few more photos of the show. The ones that look good were taken by Sarah, and I’m responsible for the burry ones. Thanks for reading and thanks to Sloan for the good times!