Great Lake Swimmers Saturday June 9, 2007 Garfield Artworks Pittsburgh, PA

w/ Eleni Mandell, Pairdown

Let's Trade Skins/Various Stages/Put There By The Land/I Am Part Of A Large Family/Changing Colours/Backstage With The Modern Dancers/Your Rocky Spine/Moving, Shaking*/Imaginary Bars*/Song For The Angels*/Catcher Song/Bodies And Minds/There Is A Light

*-Tony solo

This was my fourth time catching Great Lake Swimmers and as usual they sounded immaculate in the grubby confines of Garfield Artworks.

Manny, the proprietor of the establishment, was, as per usual, very cool to me and let me in to hear soundchecks and shit.

First up was Pairdown. These transplanted locals have two bands, this one and The Instances. Basically, they are the same duo in both (David and Raymond) but I think one is electric and the other acoustic. Either way they sounded REALLY tight tonight. Very intricate melodies going on. Nice couple of dudes to boot.

Next was Eleni Mandell. She surprised me with her smoky laid back vibe. I kept thinking of Shivaree as she swaggered through her tunes.

Eleni Mandell autographed print


Eleni Mandell hand-written setlist

Finally Tony and Co. hit the stage to a very decent sized crowd. I am surprised that there were about seventy people there tonight. The last two swings through town they were openers AND they were competing with a record breaking show at Hienz Field with Kenny Chesney. Yeah, I guess the audiences would be a tad different. The new stuff sounded fantantic live and this band can do no wrong in my book.

Great Lake Swimmers autographed Ongiara CD cover


Great Lake Swimmers autographed print


Great Lake Swimmers, Eleni Mandell Band, and Pairdown autographed flyer

centro-matic Friday April 7, 2006 High Five Bar Columbus, OH

w/ Great Lake Swimmers, Two Cow Garage

Post-It Notes From The State Hospital/Flashes And Cables/To Unleash The Horses Now/Call The Legion In Tonight/Strahan Has Coralled The Freaks/The Mighty Midshipmen/Picking Up Too Fast/Atlanta/Calling Thermatico/Patience For The Ride/I See Through You/Triggers And Trash Heaps/Infernoesque Grande/The Blisters May Come/Fidgeting Wildly

Encore: Biology Tricks/Love Has Found Me

I HAD to see this show. It's been awhile since I traveled out of town to catch a band but with this line-up it was a given. Also meeting fellow Postcarders Susan and Steve made it well worth the trip. Totally cool couple.

I had been dying to see Columbus homeboys Two Cow Garage since hearing their first record several years ago. In fact they did play Pittsburgh awhile ago but that same night my buddy was having a party and he was giving me shit about seeing a show during his gig (puss). According to the guys in the band, the gig was a disaster. Two people showed up (friends of theirs) and the venue was a turd-hole. It actually closed down a couple days later and they haven't been back to town since. I asked Micah why and he said there's no place to play. Believe me, I'll find a place. I think I'll be seeing them soon enough.

They came out and tore through a high energy, bombastically fun set. The crowd was way pumped and the vibe was infectious. Kudos to my boy Shane for trying to get my request in, but time restraints did not warrant 'Hillbilly' tonight.

Two Cow Garage autographed Please Turn The Gas Back On and The Wall Against Our Backs CD covers

Next up was Great Lake Swimmers as a three-piece. I was wondering how Tony's intimate and subdued style would come across a room full of people "post-2cow" and boy I didn't expect the reaction tonight. The crowd was ugly. They were actually booing him. With feedback problems the set seemed destined for disaster. I have to give the guys a ton of credit for plowing through and finishing their set against the enormous adversity of the situation. By the last few songs Scott Danbom joined on violin and most of the crowd finally listened but damn it was hard to watch. Tony Dekker is the man!

Don't believe me? Click here. Ouch!

Tony Dekker hand-written setlist

I finally was able to see centro-matic after waiting several years. When we walked in the band was soundchecking and Will waved to me from the stage. He couldn't have remembered me from his Pittsburgh gig in 2004? I guess so because he put me and the missus on the guest list. What a guy!

Their performance did not disappoint. In fact it fucking blew me away. With all due respect to the Bielenko boys, this band is the best band in America today, live or otherwise. Each one of them can play the fuck out of their instruments and can easily translate their good time to the audience. 

Will Johnson hand-written setlist

centro-matic, Great Lake Swimmers and Two Cow Garage autographed show flyer

What a night! Thanks fellas.

The Mendoza Line Sunday March 12, 2006 Garfield Artworks Pittsburgh, PA

w/ Great Lake Swimmers, Elliott Brood

Elliott Brood: Johnny Rooke/Back Of The Lot/Edge Of Town/The Bridge/Cadillac Dust/Second Son/A Banjo Song/Only At Home/Superior

Great Lake Swimmers: Let's Trade Skins/Merge, A Vessel, A Harbour/Various Stages/Song For The Angels/Bodies And Minds/I Saw You In The Wild/Imaginary Bars/Moving Pictures Silent Films

The Mendoza Line: Packs Of Three/Mysterious In Black/Golden Boy (Torture In The Shed)/Settle Down, Zelda/It's A Long Line (But It Moves Quickly)/Fleur De Lis/Sea Of Tears/The Queen Of England/A Damn Good Disguise/Throw It In The Fire/Water Surrounds/Honky Tonk Woman/Jesus Saves

This very might well be THE best triple bill I have seen. Each one of these bands are headliners in my opinion and to have them all in one night was great.

I got to the joint early and hang as Elliott Brood were soundchecking. These guys are definitely the discovery of '06 for me. I cannot stop listening to their discs. Totally unique sound that is accessible instantly. Timothy rolls in from a jog and we go get some beer. Hanging with these guys for a couple hours was so much fun. Tim and Great Lake Swimmers are fucking around trying to decide on an "All Star Jam" to perform. How about some Stones? 'Shattered'? 'Sweet Virginia'? Nah. 'Honky Tonk Woman'? Perfect!

As I stated, Elliott Brood from Canada eh, surprised the fuck outta me with their set. Do yourself a favor, check these guys out, now! Really cool fellas to boot.

Elliott Brood autographed print.

Next up was Tony Dekker and Erik Arnesan. Great Lake Swimmers play mellow, haunting music that's totally absorbing in the right context. I asked Tony before the show how he likes Pittsburgh? He said he loves playing Garfield Artworks. This dump? He loves the acoustics. Also I noticed that at every GA show I've been to the audience actually listens. Yeah, I love the dump too. Now, how about getting some decent stage lighting Manny? Tony Dekker's the man.

Tony Dekker hand-written setlist

Tony Dekker autographed print

Finally The Mendoza Line hit the stage. Great fucking funtime party band! They open with my request, Arab Strap's 'Packs Of Three'. The opening line, "That was the biggest cock I've ever seen..." is a ballsy way to open a show. They deviate from the setlist quite a bit throughout the night. Someone in the audience requests 'It's A Long Line'. To that person I want you to know I love you! I would have never thought they would play it. They perform an 'intimate' version with Tim and Shan starting it out and the band playing catch-up. Beautiful.

With Timothy's coercion, Tony and Steve join the band for a loose "All-Star Jam'! What a hoot!

Shannon McArdle hand-written setlist

Shannon McArdle and Timothy Bracy autographed print (I draw faces, Shannon draws...nevermind)

The Mendoza Line, Great Lake Swimmers, and Elliott Brood autographed show flyer

Wedding ring? That's no wedding ri...ah, fuck it, your husband's taking the pic.


Great Lake Swimmers supporting Akron/Family Monday September 5, 2005 Garfield Artworks Pittsburgh, PA

w/ Emily Rodgers Band

Moving, Shaking/Merge, A Vessel, A Harbour/The Man With No Skin/I Will Never See The Sun/This Is Not Like Home/Various Stages/The Animals Of The World/Moving Pictures Silent Films/Innocent When You Dream

In the spring of this year I picked up both Great Lake Swimmers releases from Misra. Thinking the plaintive, despondent ballads would bore me to noose shopping after the first listen, I gradually grew to love these discs. Tony Dekker's voice is, forgive me, heavenly. Gag I know, but the description fits. The songs just ingrained into my head after awhile. I wondered why he/they hardly ever toured outside of their native Canada. I e-mailed the band and got a quick response from the manager(?) suggesting some places to play in Pittsburgh. Sure enough, a few weeks later, a Pittsburgh date was announced. See what you can get if you just ask.

So Manny, the guy who books Garfield Artworks, and I are talking before The Constantines show in July and I mention that I might be responsible for the GLS date. He exclaimed, "That was you? The manager did say something about the guy in Pittsburgh with the website." Hughshows is becoming a force to be reckoned with my friends! Anyway, he was more excited to have Akron/Family on the bill. Akron who? I decided to order their self-titled debut disc from Young God and was, er, um, well, this music is totally, ah...different. Very different. Think a not boring Phish on acid. And peyote, 'shrooms, speed, downers, pot, booze and more acid. This is some obscure, strange shit. Notice I didn't say bad. It's original, daring and thank God not conforming to any style or genre. I heard incredible things about their live show and was anxiously looking forward to it.

Emily Rodgers opened the night without her Majesty's Stars. It was her trio outfit including my man Kevin Finn on skins. Her music was the perfect intro to the night. During her performance I couldn't help but notice how absolutely silent the crowd of about thirty were tonight.

Great Lake Swimmers came out and played a quiet, reserved, haunting set. The band sounded really good on slightly re-arranged versions of the songs that I was now familiar with. I read reviews of Dekker's nervous, kind of "I'd rather be anywhere else but here" demeanor while playing, and though true, it didn't take anything away from the songs. He was very nice to talk with also. They guy oozes a gentle calm.

Finally Akron/Family came out and totally blew my fucking mind. I shit you not, this band put on one of the most unique, entertaining, infectious concerts I have ever seen. The best parts of their disc, most notably their vocal harmonies and loose sing songy tunes, translated perfectly in a live setting. They were ready to really whoop it up and unfortunately the crowd wasn't. They were kinda asking from the stage what the problem was and I said it was late and the Labor Day weekend probably kicked everyone's ass. Undeterred, the band just smoked through playing with a precise abandon. I would see these guys anywhere. Seriously, I am sure their set changes from night to night and touring with them would be a blast. What a discovery. They even gave me a shout-out for the artwork! You know it, baby!

Seth Olinsky hand-written Akron/Family setlist

Akron/Family autographed self titled debut CD cover

Akron/Family autographed limited untitled release

Tony Dekker hand-written Great Lake Swimmers input list (I know, I'm a total loser)

Tony Dekker autographed Bodies And Minds CD cover

Tony Dekker autographed Great Lake Swimmers disc

Akron/Family, Tony Dekker, and Emily Rodgers autographed show flyer (Yeah, I made it, got a problem?)

Emily and Kevin with a fan. Oh and hey, Ben? It's called fucking focus dude.


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