It all began so simply. The chilly autumn breeze was a welcome companion as I walked to the Phoenix from Wellesley station with Sloan on my mind. Passed Church, and Jarvis, and couples holding hands and groups of friends on a night out, I walked alone. But that was alright with me; I was going to see Sloan after all.
When I got to the Phoenix, Indie 88 were giving away free high-fives – I took full, greedy advantage – and then the security guard who asked me for ID at the door said I looked a little young because I’ve ‘got one of those young haircuts.’ I suggested that it might be my lack of a full beard that might be making me look younger than everyone else. You can’t go anywhere without a giant beard these days.
Twenty-three and I still look too young to get into a venue without being carded! Funny, I thought; to feel like a grownup and then be exposed as a youngster. The thought played on my mind as Sloan walked out onto the stage in front of a packed venue to play and promote their new album, ‘Commonwealth.’ It dawned on me too, right then, that Sloan as a band is the same age as me. 1991, the year we were both born. Maybe I was just a youngster after all.
Sloan played two sets last night; the first primarily made up of new material, like an interesting little appetizer before the familiar home-cooked full course. And then, during the second set, they took the audience and me through the years. 1998’s ‘Money City Maniacs,’ 2001’s ‘The Other Man,’ 2006’s ‘Who Taught You To Live Like That,’ and so on; it was like being pulled through a nostalgic time warp to the sounds of Sloan. It was like that chilly autumn breeze, and all those familiar places where we used to be. It was like remembering things you thought you forgot; like being presented with a slab of your old self via the songs of yesterday.
As far as the show goes, Sloan was and is still Sloan; they packed their familiar punch, and the audience sang along to all the old favourites, and clapped to the beat when they were encouraged to. The crowd was otherwise laidback and allowed Sloan just to take them for a joyride through the old neighbourhoods. It was a fun show, and definitely one for longtime fans. Nice and familiar, but nostalgic too. Maybe that’s the mark of a great band, that they’ve been as ever-present as Sloan has been in Canadian music. That they can take you back to the restaurants you used to go to and the people you used to see. That they can carry your memories with them just like that chilly autumn breeze.
On the subway ride home, a drunken Scotsman sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to a stranger and kissed her hand. We’re all getting older, I thought, but at least Sloan will always be Sloan.