Laura Crapo

Guitar Wolf + Cheap Time @ Cabaret Mile End, Montréal, 16.05.11

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Guitar Wolf + Cheap Time @ Cabaret Mile End, Montréal, 16.05.11

by Laura Crapo

I was at the Mile End Montreal Pizza Pizza with my son Felix and my daughter Chloe. I got the fiesta size. Don’t say party size because they won’t know what you’re talking about. The single mother’s rescue package:  it contains both dinner and tomorrow’s lunch. I, then, held up the line to buy four Maxim Lapierre Pizza Pizza monster size 3D cups that clearly showed his marketing contract with the Canadiens lasted longer than his presence on the team. I now had six Maxim Lapierre cups in my collection and felt good inside knowing I could enjoy my love of the foxy NHL player with my friends on a hot summer’s day when I fill these Stanley cups with spiked lemonade. As alcohol consumes my good sense, I can marvel at the series of images of his face that morph as you turn the kaleidoscopic cup.

My buying the cups made a group of gentlemen behind me chuckle. That’s fine – people might not understand my loving support of this player. I understand, and that’s enough. I did notice the guys behind me in line were handsome, though. And when my children and I sat down, I noticed one of them was sporting drum keys on a clip … and they could have laughed even harder at me for getting the Maxim cups, as guys from here would. Bingo. My gaydar isn’t effective in Montreal, but my Canadar, Canadarm, whatever, does work and I knew they were from the US. And then one of them sported a southern accent, which was too much. I had to speak. “Are you guys a band?” That could be like a bummer question, but they were cool about it. They said they were Cheap Time from Memphis and were opening for Guitar Wolf just a few doors away. We then figured out through my incessant, “You guys are handsome and you are my captive audience while you await your slices” probing that they knew Felix’s father, Greg Tymoshenko, as The Leather Uppers had played Gonerfest a few years back. Someone among them ordered poutine and my heart sank knowing Frite Alors across the street does a better job with that Montreal specialty.

When we left the Pizza establishment, Felix asked me in his sweet manner if he could also come to the show. “You’re under age, Felix, it’s a bar.” He was crushed that he couldn’t see these really nice, really cool guys play their set. After all, he met them, too. “Maybe they’ll come back and play an all-ages show.”

Felix rolled his eyes at me, later, when I went to see their show across the street. “All ages, honey, that’s the only kind you can go to. Church basement or something … ”

I’m not super used to going to shows since my heyday of show-going at Lounge Ax in Chicago in the mid-90s and, quite frankly, I’m a bit terrified of volume after being consumed in the chamber of starlight ballroom deafness at ATP NY last summer. Meeting comedian Hannibal Burress and getting my photo taken with Ron Jeremy took the sting out of my boyfriend leaving me right before my birthday that weekend. My ringing ears take me back to a late night motorized shopping cart race in Wal-Mart that was instigated by Hannibal when we sought asthma medicine. And! another ex-boyfriend was there at ATP, on stage in a band, even, and he was not saying hi. Platonic friendships ruled my birthday weekend. I danced literally all night to amazing 60s rarities on the dancefloor with Ron Jeremy looking on from the bar.

Back in the present time and in Montreal, Cheap Time and Guitar Wolf beckoned. And I hadn’t seen Guitar Wolf yet and had heard about him for 15 years already. Enough! Make it happen. Then the ticket was a frightening 26 dollars or something. My expensive solo date with myself to the club I had never seen the inside of but often walked by, now contained the combined forces of Cheap Time and Guitar Wolf. Pay the money.

I have to admit the lead singer reminded me, in appearance, a bit of my ex-husband when we met 15 years ago, that is to say – cute. And by cute I don’t mean like a puppy dog or a plastic beach pail. I mean cute as in very distracting, memorable.

I figured since they were on In The Red, that they would be cool like Matt Conger cool from The Mystery Girls. There’d be some rocking. There’d be some supersized nod to melody. I’m no music nerd, but I know enough to know In The Red isn’t a dog’s breakfast of musical styles. So I sat my 40+ mother-of-three self down at stage left and awaited what Dr. Music had in store for me tonight.

Cheap Time ripped into some very functional rocking that I enjoyed very much. I’m a big fan of fast-paced drumming, and the drummer delivered the goods to me. The songs and delivery were distilled rock, like Ramones in their purity. The no stopping between songs added to the concept band feeling. It was a thinking man’s band. So much to like. So much to ponder. And the pairing of Cheap Time and Guitar Wolf made sense as I saw that Guitar Wolf had built his own language of moves and music to make his very artistic point.

Having a concept by no means diminished either of the bands. It enriched the experience. And what’s it like having zero complaints about a band and just enjoying them? A rare and welcome experience.

I would see them again. Hopefully at an all-ages venue, with Felix. If he hears I went to see Cheap Time again without him, he’ll give me that look of betrayal. I would buy their record. And if I played their record in my car or my house, it would lift things up to a place where rocking is divine and loud sounds good.

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