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sloan gig review/interview



SLOAN  Brunswick Hall gig 11/5 review by James Covey

        It was sloppy, it was loud, and it was loads of
fun.  Sloan played their first Halifax headline gig in over
a year to an appreciative and decidedly young audience,
about 750 strong, on Saturday night at Brunswick Hall.  The
all-ages gig attracted hundreds of teens, who energized a
less-than-stellar performance by the hometown heroes.  Many
people stood on tables and chairs, striving for a better
view of the band.  Bodysurfing was copious and continuous
until guitarist Patrick Pentland laid down the law about
the potential hazards of knocking down rows of heavy lights
on unsuspecting skulls.  The young fans at the front of the
stage were singing along with favorites from Sloan's debut
LP _Smeared_, especially on a hilarious rendition of
"Underwhelmed" that collapsed into disorder when Pentland
and bassist Chris Murphy engaged in mock hand-to-hand
combat.  (Meanwhile, that same night, in faraway Las Vegas,
Nevada, George Foreman and Michael Moorer were duking it
out for the heavyweight boxing championship of the world.
Coincidence?)

        The band played eight songs from their exquisitely
crafted new retro-pop album _Twice Removed_, some of which
worked well, while others fell flat.  Of those songs the
highlights were Jay Ferguson's excellent vocals on
"Snowsuit Sound," Patrick Pentland's memorable album-closer
"I Can Feel It," and "Deeper Than Beauty" for which
Pentland and Ferguson took a breather while Murphy and
Andrew Scott did a guitar-and-drums duet.  One of the major
pleasures of the evening, though, was getting to hear how
well the songs from _Smeared_ are aging.  The arrangements
of the songs have evolved over time -- "Take It In" sounded
especially accomplished, while "500 Up" also sounded better
than ever.  The audience was also treated to a smoothed-out
version of "Torn" from the band's debut release, the
_Peppermint_ EP, as well as a rearrangement of "Laying
Blame," the single B-side that has a second life now that
Eric's Trip have recorded a version.

        The show featured a couple of opening numbers by
Halifax's own dope MC Stinkin' Rich (by all accounts
excellent, although I unintentionally missed him), as well
as opening sets by tighter-than-ever garage rockers The
Superfriendz and Truro trailer-park hiphoppers with what
was truly a show-stealing performance.  Highlights included
a superior rendition of "Kick Him in the Face When He's
Down" (what does it say about me that I like this song?)
and an excellent set-ending rock-rap collaboration
featuring The Superfriendz.

        Talking to Jay Ferguson a couple of days after the
gig, I asked him about the band's recent tour.  Canada's "a
lot more fun," he says, because they've been doing an
all-ages tour.  In the States they've been playing bars, so
the crowds have been smaller.  _Twice Removed_ is being
introduced slowly in the States, it seems.  The first
single in the US will be "I Hate My Generation," but there
will be no video made for it until it generates sufficient
interest.  Meanwhile, Sloan, thinking that "People of the
Sky" would be the first US single (it is about to be
released as the second Canadian single, following "Coax
Me"), have made a video for "People" on the cheap ($1000)
with some students from USC in California.  So, in
roundabout fashion, if a video gets made for "Generation,"
the first US single might end up as the third Canadian
single.  Follow?  I didn't think so.  Don't worry about it.

        When asked if a liquor license for Brunswick Hall
would induce Sloan to play Halifax more often, Jay says,
"The only reason that we don't play is that we're away so
much, and Andrew lives in Toronto."  He mentions that when
Andrew is in town, the band likes to do one-offs like their
appearance at the Double Deuce last Christmas and their
cameo appearance opening for jale's _Dreamcake_ release
party.

        Sloan have a track record of going well out of
their way to support other local bands, especially through
their own label murderecords.  When asked if murderecords
could be called an "alternative label," Jay says, "I don't
think we're that alternative or Thrush Hermit are.  I don't
see how either Thrush Hermit or Superfriendz are more
alternative than each other.  We just put out bands that we
like.  A lot of labels usually bill themselves on a
specific sound -- like Atlantic; they started off R&B.  Or
Sub Pop, all Northwestern loud guitar bands at first.
We're sort of all over the place."

        Jay says that if their label has a vision, it's
simply "promoting bands from down here that would not
otherwise have a chance to put out a record.  The focus has
been putting out bands from around here that we really
like."  Murder will soon stretch its reach, though, and put
out a single by Montreal's Local Rabbits.  Sloan may also
release a single of their own in the months to come.

        Sloan won't hit the road again 'til the new year,
at which time there's a chance they will head for
Australia.  It seems that a couple of major FM rock
stations there are playing _Twice Removed_.  Will Sloan
next hit it big down under?  Stay tuned.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
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