H&M's insider trading of Polaris news, continued.
5 p.m. (explanation here)
H: Thank you, baby, for the Tylenol. You are gold. Okay, so before we move on to Joel or the Juniors or the gorgeous Feist poster Kevin Drew was toting all night [each nominee was awarded a specially-commissioned silkscreen], can we deal with more pressing matters? The Fashion.
Steve Jordan is fucking hot.
M: Yes, he is. And he was also one of the only men there, in a room full of slackers, who had any sense of occasion. Which makes sense, seeing how it’s his baby. I think CBC Ottawa’s Alan Neale was the only other man I saw there with some serious style. That man’s a peach. As is the always charming Kevin Drew. Best dressed women: Caitlin Veitch of Six Shooter, Rebecca Webster of Fusion 3…
H: Ya, Rebecca had a stunner of a dress on, she looked gorgeous. Also, Jessie Stein [Luyas, Miracle Fortress] had a party dress on that was tres va-va-voom. I am also immensely pleased about the return of the hat. I’m hoping the trend continues, and that we reverse the Kennedy trend [cue Buck 65’s “Kennedy Killed the Hat”].
M: Does Jace Lacek have any other shirts?
H: Perhaps he has several of the same one. He should commission me for the Besnard Lakes’ next video. The opening shot will be a slow dolly out from a close shot of his hand opening the closet, panning out to reveal an entire closet full of the same shirt.
M: Make sure there’s dry ice involved. All right, Joan Rivers, back to the music. We were both rooting for Miracle Fortress to win, but I have to say that I don’t think the live show works yet. No slag against the players, but it’s such a great studio record that all those textures just don’t come across live. And they’re such a new band, too.
H: I think he might need a full orchestra, or at least an Owen Pallett, to convey that big a sound. With the first song they played, I really missed the stacks upon stacks of vocal harmonies. I do enjoy that they’re trying to do something else with it live, that they’re not trying to replicate the album. I’d put the MF performance in the same category as Julie Doiron’s performance in that respect, but she has the advantage of a band with 17 years of playing together.
M: Upon reflection I find it ironic that you loved the ragged nature of Chad VanGaalen’s performance, and yet you disliked Julie for the exact same reason.
H: Yup, I’m a mysterious woman.
M: Tell me about it.
H: I didn’t dislike Julie’s performance. Let me make that clear. I am sad that not every performer was there: I missed Feist and Arcade Fire because I love the energy of those people. I think if they’d been able to be there, their performance or just their presence would deflate other people’s anti-bigshot attitude toward them, because they’re such genuine people. But what did you think of the video montages, specifically the E-talk Daily montage of the lone Junior Boy?
M: They should have shot that in the shade, at least, or maybe after noon: he was squinting in the most unflattering way through the whole thing. I find those video clips pointless, really. “Yeah, so, um, I made a record.” I was also very disappointed that no one made a goddamn speech when they accepted their poster. Last year, everyone made a speech. I love speeches. The only reason I ever watch the Junos or the Oscars is the hope that someone will say something moving, profound or surprisingly articulate. Of course, that rarely happens, unless Leonard Cohen or Bruce Cockburn is getting some kind of lifetime achievement award. But many of last year’s funniest moments—like Wolf Parade pleading for someone to pay their $1600 Drake bar tab—came during the speeches.
H: Now I’m doubly sad that I missed the show last year, being sequestered in the jury room. Yeah, you’re a sucker for the speeches, aren’t you? You may be the only man I know who wants more speeches at weddings. Do you think the white on black is a good look for Grant, by the way?
M: The white on black violence? He looks like he should be in the Specials.
H: Or the Hives. I think he actually did try to join the Hives, but the rest of the Smugglers held their breath until he changed his mind. It’s interesting, I had a chance to look around at response to the Patrick Watson win, and there’s a common expression of surprise. Also, Guy Dixon at the Globe made Patrick Watson sound like an eight-year-old, which I immediately forwarded to Carl with glee (because I’m a nerd and I love language incongruities, not because I’m mean-spirited). Watson was grinning like an eight-year-old.
M: On the Radio 3 blog, lots of listeners claim to have not been surprised by Watson's win (unlike last year, when Final Fantasy’s win sent shock waves through that entire Vancouver building). My favourite press faux-pas this year is once again courtesy of the Canadian Press. Last year they referred to Final Fantasy as an electronica act. This year, they told the story about Patrick Watson crashing his van—almost making it sound like drunk driving caused the accident. Here’s the quote: “But most of the [$20,000] cash [prize] would settle a rental car bill incurred in a car crash just outside of Fargo, N.D., earlier this year, he said, clutching a beer in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other as he launched into the tale.”
H: Oh hilarious! That is fully ridiculous. I listened to a bit of the Radio 3 podcast, and they did include his telling of the tale (he insists that the crash occurred at the same spot where they found the money in the movie Fargo). The podcast did manage to convey all the best moments, musical and otherwise, in 58 minutes. Which is probably closer to an ideal length for “Galas” such as this one. But they edited out my rebuttal to Grant. Perhaps they don’t want listeners to hold out hope that he’ll call them at home if they complain about something.
M: I think you need to contextualize this “Grant rebuttal” story, once and for all.
H: I did, last night! Should this story really go any further? The reader’s digest version: before we’d ever actually met, I was an avid listener of RadioSonic, the precursor to Radio 3, and after the show one Saturday I sent an email comment from my phone. So at approximately 3 a.m. later that night the phone rang, and I got a semi-irritable Grant on the phone asking me to elaborate on my complaint. It was an auspicious beginning to a beautiful friendship.
M: Ah CBC, the personal touch. If only all civil servants were so accountable. Okay, let’s wrap this up. We haven’t talked about Plaskett, Feist or Arcade Fire yet. Of course, the latter two weren’t there. I loved the fact that AF asked Owen Pallett to accept for them, sent him an email to read and then he forgot it at home. And Feist sent her old friend (and By Divine Right drummer) Mark Goldstein to accept for her. He DID remember the email she sent. Amidst what sounded like genuine humility, it had some horseshit in it about how she was in the UK last night playing a club “that could fit inside the Rivoli three times over.” In fact, she was playing the Hammersmith Odeon. [later: actually it was Shepherd's Bush Empire, capacity 2000]
H: You know, I would have been okay with either of those records winning, even though they’ve reaped the rewards in other ways. I think they are solid and thoughtfully made and beautiful albums, even though I don’t think they are flawless from start to finish, as the Miracle Fortress record clearly is. And ultimately there was a pleasing symmetry to Jian Ghomeshi’s intro to Besnard Lakes being approximately as long as one of their songs. Was it their “Sweet Emotion” track they played?
M: No, it was the Low rip-off. I was happy to discover that [last year’s jury member] Jill Wilson [of the Winnipeg Free Press] is also one of The Four Rock Critics in Canada Who Don’t Like the Besnard Lakes. The other interesting thing in the CP piece is Owen’s quote: “’We should divide the award into two awards: one for the bands who don't have credit card debt and the bands that do. I think that would be a coup. In fact, I'm going to try and make that happen,’ he said. ‘The Arcade Fire do not need $20,000. Leslie Feist definitely doesn't need $20,000.’"
H: That wins the award for the Most Canadian Polaris Comment.
M: Cut down those poppies! I really don’t like the idea that people expect Polaris to be part of our social welfare system, as opposed to a prize based “entirely on merit.” Go get a grant, for Chrissakes. The Acorn got four for their new album, those rich bastards. Should that disqualify them from next year’s contest?
H: All my money is on The Acorn next year.
M: Finally, I just want to say that Plaskett was also great live. And he’s just so gosh darn affable, I don’t think anyone would have complained had he won.
H: Yes, amazing performance even though I’m not crazy about either song. He’s lovely. Carl and I were crushing on him big-time.
M: For whatever reason, the only music running through my head all day was the “Bayer’s Road Shopping Mall” line from “Drunk Teenagers.” Congrats to Patrick Watson, whom I know will go on to much greater things, to all the nominees, and to Steve Jordan for pulling it all together.