When it comes to new music I'm pretty out of it. I rely on my friends in Montreal to make me mixes to keep me hip. So when a friend invited me to see Trans Am last night I figured they were some hip new thing. Actually they've been around since the 90s and with eight albums out, on Thrill Jockey, you could say they're established.
Trans Am played last night at Richard's on Richards. Enticed by their name and a bizarre video I downloaded I decided to take a chance and check them out. Now I don't often see live music. And when I do I'm regularly disappointed. Here's why:
1- I don't understand the point of 'watching' music and I'll blame that on my time spent in the rave scene. Trans Am played a pretty danceable set with their sweet drum machine, keyboard synths and computerized voice distorters. Much head bobbing and toe tapping but the booty shaking was nil.
2- I love banter. Sadly a lot of musicians are musicians and not stand-up comedians. Go figure. Performance/stage presence factors hugely into show caliber. Now I'm not talking having bands monologue or bring people up on stage but they do have to acknowledge the audience. I think this is why crowds go 'wild' when bands say "Hello Vancouver!" Trans Am was forced to banter when the guitarist broke a string. The shirtless/shoeless drummer did a satisfactory job of it, but didn't go into details about the band's border difficulties - a favorite "banter topic" that I've observed from the few shows I've been to. I suspect this could have made for fantastic banter material and very possibly won my heart.
3- Taking a chance on bands sight unsound is a risky venture when you don't have major coin to toss around. Thankfully I didn't have to pay to see Trans Am. Not that I didn't like their music, I just probably wouldn't have paid for it. I've just always found concerts more enjoyable when I know the songs or... read point number two again.
If I were to review Trans Am Band I'd give the show 3 out of 5 thingies of importance. Being that I'm no music reviewer this rating pertains most importantly to the fact that I left the house. And that a lot of other toe-tappers did too. That's what the Vancouver should embrace - that sometimes it's okay to be mildly satisfied or even abjectly miserable provided the company is good.