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If you’re curious whether or not Steely Dan blows, let me assure you that they do

Sarah wasn’t crazy about either of the two bands I wanted to see on Saturday—Elliott Brood and Steely Dan—so she took the night off and Isha subbed in. We got to the grounds close to seven o’clock and heard a bit of Ladytron as we were walking through the grounds. I don’t know if they are in fact lady robots, but they sounded like they might be (in an entirely awesome way, let me assure you). We snuck over to the other side of the War Museum to get to the Black Sheep stage. The Black Sheep had five bands from the same label (Six Shooter Records), who were going to end the night with a five-band hootenanny. We caught about three songs by Luke Doucet—and he was fantastic. I wish we saw more, really. I’m not the master of music genres, but I’m gonna go ahead and label his stuff alt-country. He plays some muscular guitar (someone else’s words, not mine, but I think they’re apt). Check out some of his stuff here. (Henceforth and retroactively, I’ll be including links to each band’s New Music Canada page—in the case that they’re Canadian).

We had some time to kill, had a drink and some food, and saw a few songs by Angelique Kidjo, who wikipedia tells me is an afropop/afrobeat artist. Good stuff, high energy. In the middle of her set she sang “Gimme Shelter” and some guy next to us instantly blazed up like he’d been waiting days for that very moment. After this, it was back to the Black Sheep for Elliott Brood. And they were awesome. They write short and catchy songs, play only acoustic instruments (with piles of distortion from time to time), and as Isha said, “They make a lot of noise for just three guys.” Check out that link. Give “Oh, Alberta” a listen. Great stuff.

And then, Steely Dan. Sheesh. I mean, I went in with low expectations, and I only knew about two songs, but they were boring regardless of either of those facts. And I know they’re ninety or whatever, but they’ve got about forty-five people on stage so it makes you expect… something. Something kind of interesting. But it was just slow jam, after slow jam, after slow jam. I didn’t get a sense that anyone there was a particular fan of the band. It was just three or four thousand people listening to the band so they could say they saw Steely Dan once. We wisely took off after four songs and went back to the Black Sheep stage to see the Six Shooter hootenanny, which was so, so, so much better. Along with the folks we’d seen there already were NQ Arbuckle, Justin Rutledge, and Christine Fellows. Highlights included Luke Doucet doing a song accompanied by with his wife and his daughter (both of them sultry, the latter alarmingly so as she was probably twelve years old; Justin Rutledge leading the musicians and the crowd in “Don’t Be So Mean, Jellybean”; and the whole crew singing “The Weight” for the finale. Great night.

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