These are the new Dears. Murray Lightburn and his partner, Natalia Yanchak, have recruited a new band of not-so-merry men and women. Although this was not their first performance in Montreal in their new incarnation, it was the first time for me to see the newest version of these masters of mope.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of the experience. I think I expected something more transcendent. The venue of the Apple store is small. The crowd was small (!) It was a perfect set up for an intimate, soul gripping performance. I’d seen Lighburn do as much when he played solo at a Christmas show in the Ukranian Federation in Mile End and talked about being in the Gaz-ette. He can be personable, funny, charming, endearing. But this short set was very remote, very cool, and very introverted. It was as if they were concentrating on each other, more than on performing. Granted, the Dears are an introverted band, but they’ve managed to bring togetherness to aloneness. At this show, I didn’t feel part of the collective journey.
There are a few problems inherent in these Apple Store performance. First of all, I think bands and audiences have a sell-out phobia and are probably uneasy to play for the Man or attend concerts thrown by the Man respectively. The Apple Store is a pretty slick place that clearly has corporate vibes. But, COME ON, it’s Apple! It’s the high priced underdog of the computer world. Most people in the art and music professions use Apple computers (or want to use Apple computers) to make all that great stuff they do. So, it isn’t like Apple is helping kill whales, coral reefs, and baby seals. Anyway, the whole corporate phobia is a bit silly since once a band graduates from the bar and college cafeteria circuit, they’re helping someone make money off something.
Second of all, the Apple store has not yet figured out the meaning of good sound. I am no expert on acoustics, but the speakers are turned up so loud, my ears hurt if I stand within 20 feet of them – and the room is probably only a little bit larger than that. The people at the Apple store have to create a sound appropriate for the audience and the room size. Once this sound issue is settled, I think that concerts at the Apple Store will live up to the bands that play there.
So, I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t connect with the Dears on this one. It could be the new band/new sound thing. It could be the shortness of the set. It could be the ambiance and environment of the Apple Store. Or, it could just be my own expectations. Ultimately, I’ve had better Dears experiences, but I suspect that this one had nothing to do with them.