I was involved in a very middle-aged conversation happening on Winnipeg Twitter last week. After securing the presale password for Spoon tickets at the Burton Cummings Theatre (thanks, Tim Hoover!), the discussion turned to seating, with floor admission versus balcony seats hotly (well, mildly) debated.
NOFX performs to a sold-out crowd at the Burton Cummings Theatre in 2016. (Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press)
This is a question that did not come up the last time I saw Spoon, which was in 2005 at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, the band’s hometown. The quartet played second-last in a lineup at the Parish; by the time they came onstage, I’d probably been on my feet for 18 hours, walked countless steps and was coasting on a couple of hours’ sleep and more than a couple of Shiners.
Setting aside the fact that the smallish club was standing room only, sitting down never crossed my mind.
Seventeen years later, it’s a different story. My mouse finger hovered hesitantly over my Ticketmaster choices — general admission floor or pretty nosebleedy balcony seats.
I made my choice — and almost immediately second-guessed it.
“This dad and his dad buds are parking their dad butts in the front row of the first balcony,” tweeted Hoover, a.k.a. DJ Co-op, announcing his score of the middle-aged music fan’s dream seats and inspiring instant jealousy.
To be fair, I’ve always had a penchant for getting to club shows early to scope out a good seat, just in case the moshing mood was not upon me. But there were definitely days in university where I could barely walk on Sunday because my calf muscles were so sore from jumping up and down for two hours.
I’m not sure at what point I morphed into a concertgoer who is more concerned about sightlines and comfort than the adrenaline rush of being part of a surging (or even swaying) crowd — I guess it’s like the frog in the pot of boiling water: you don’t notice until it’s too late.
In any case, I’ll be standing up at Spoon, trying to recapture my youth. On the plus side, I’ve got until July to work on increasing my stamina.
What’s up this week
After two years of being pushed by the pandemic to the fall, the Winnipeg Comedy Festival is back in its usual spring slot, running May 2-9 at venues including Burton Cummings Theatre, Gas Station Arts Centre, Jubilee Place and Rumor’s Comedy Club.
Highlights include the Naughty Bits Gala at the Burt on May 5, starring Dave Burke, Foad HP, Shannon Laverty, Katie-Ellen Humphries and more (tix are $30; the show is being taped for TV) and a Mother’s Day show, Mom’s the Word, hosted by fringe festival favourite Stéphanie Morin-Robert (Gas Station, May 8, $20), and Winnipeg Comedy, a live album taping at the Gas Station featuring local laugh luminaries Chad Anderson, Tim Gray, Sarah London, Paul Rabliauskas, Dana Smith and more; $20. Tickets are available on the Winnipeg Comedy Festival website.
Opening Saturday and running to May 4, the University of Manitoba’s School of Art presents the 2022 BFA Honours Exhibition at ARTlab, 180 Dafoe Rd.
The event features the work of 23 graduates of the Honours Studio and Design programs, with 70,000 square feet of space showcasing works ranging from photography and painting to sculptures, film and design. The opening reception is Saturday from 5 to 8 p.m., with live music, food and drinks. (Proof of vax required; KN95 masks must be worn and will be provided.)
Canadian rock act Billy Talent brings its rescheduled two-night stand to the Burt Friday and Saturday. The Juno-winning quintet is on its Crisis of Faith Tour with Anti-Flag; limited tickets for Satuday are available here.
Members of Canadian rock band Billy Talent, left to right, Ian D’Sa, Aaron Solowonluk, Ben Kowalewicz, Jon Gallant, and Jordan Hastings pose for a photo in their Toronto rehearsal space in 2016. (Chris Young / The Canadian Press Files)
Toronto band Metric announced today it would be bringing its The Doomscroller Tour to Winnipeg on Aug. 21 at the Burt, with Dear Rouge opening. The group, fronted by vocalist Emily Haines, is touring in support of its new album, Formentera, due out July 8. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 6, at 10 a.m., at https://www.ilovemetric.com/tour/.
Thrash metal band Testament is coming to the Burt with Exodus and Death Angel on Thursday, Oct. 6. The quintet fronted by Chuck Billy just released its 13th album, Titans of Creation. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at livenation.com.
Television: Wow, wow, wow am I loving Netflix’s teen rom-com series Heartstopper. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alice Oseman, it follows British schoolboy Charlie Spring as he navigates his crush on Nick Nelson, the straight — or is he? — captain of the rugby team, a handsome athlete who “looks like a golden retriever.”
The series unerringly captures the feeling of teenage love, so much so that it’s sometimes actively painful to watch, but just as actively thrilling, with little animated touches that enhance the emotion.
As with so many British shows, the actors look like real people: Joe Locke, who plays Charlie, is a jug-eared, gangly charmer with a mop of black curls, and Kit Conner (who played young Reginald Dwight/Elton John in Rocketman) is handsome but with a lovely sweetness. Be warned: the title is v. accurate.
Casual, the new-to-Netflix 2015-18 Hulu comedy series starring Michaela Watkins and Tommy Dewey, as siblings in their mid-30s who are living together in the wake of the sister’s divorce, isn’t nearly as wonderful, and yet somehow I have burned through three of its four seasons.
Your enjoyment of it will depend on your tolerance for deeply screwed-up, unabatedly narcissistic characters — mine is obviously very high — but it’s well-acted and often affecting, and I think Watkins (The Dropout, The Unicorn) has always been a valuable supporting player, so it’s nice to see her star. (Bonus points for having Fred Melamed and Frances Conroy as the pair’s negligent swinger parents.)