What do you get when you mash together every song ever and then mash together 2500 people?
I’ve honestly never been to that big a dance party in my whole life. Even in places where dancing happens! I’ve been circling ideas around in my head since last night, trying to suss out the best way to describe the festivities, and it’s really hard. I mean, sure, I could talk about the music, but Girl Talk is pretty much ultimate mash-ups on ADD. Some people can’t handle the fickle nature of the songs, and others… well, others just LOVE IT. But I digress.
Packed is probably the one word that I think best describes the show. The venue was packed with people to the point that I can now say that I’ve bathed in the sweat of friendly hipsters and douchebros alike. The mixes were packed (see what I’m doing?) with more songs and longer mixes. The stage was packed with so many people that more than once I thought to myself: ‘man, I want to be at THAT party!’ Also, there were inflatable basketballs (like beachballs!) and inflated backs (actually) that were probably… packed, and then unpacked and thrown around the crowd at the show.
Anyway, the show was effing wicked. If you can handle dancing crowds – and to be fair, not everyone can – you should definitely take the next opportunity to see this guy.
With all due credit to the world’s 10-year-olds, JUICEBOXdotcom never really grew out of its dinosaur obsession. So when we got the press release for something called WALKING WITH DINOSAURS at the Air Canada Centre, we lost our collective shit. How had we never heard of this until now? Apparently it’s a critically acclaimed $20 million traveling show, six years in the making (more like 200 million years, amirite?). I guess it’s just sad to realize that the world travels of 36-foot animatronic dinosaurs aren’t really your scene.
When we inquired about passes to this utopia, we were sure our press request — wherein we cite a “a distinct lack of dinosaurs on our site that we should probably solve” — would be turned down. Fast forward to us watching Triceratops’ smash each other’s faces along with 20,000 grade schoolers! 36-foot dinosaurs! I saw them! Moving! I don’t know how to review this other than for you to agree to understand that it’s as awesome as it sounds. Seriously, peep this:
Children were booking it for the exits.
Now without the words for a review, I decided to interview one of the show’s real, live dinosaurs instead. Meet David Waddleton. He plays a raptor in the show (oh yeah… sorry to break it to you, humans play the parts of the dinosaurs). He’s also been an extra on Degrassi and on the cover of a Harlequin romance novel. Suffice to say, now that he has DINOSAUR on his resume, he more or less has the most solid career of anyone ever. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Waddleton:
So level with me, was raptor your first choice of dinosaur? Because mine would be T-REX.
When you join the tour, you’re trained at the simplest level: raptor. It takes you about six months of training before you can even get inside the baby T. You’re in that suit for about 12 minutes, so it’s tough.
Were there many other physical requirements?
I think you have to be a minimum of 5’10 and max of around 6’2 and you have to fit in the suit even if you pass the test. Oh, and you can’t be claustrophobic or have any injuries.
What are the internal mechanisms of the costumes like?
That’s level 4 security information, I cant tell you… Okay, someone dresses you. You climb into the raptor, which is held on a stand, strap a backpack-like harness over you and then a tight Velcro belt. Then the dresser puts your feet into the side of the raptor legs, all the while you’re fiddling around with your walkie talkie in the dark. There’s a hinged handlebar in front of you with a brake-like lever that you squeeze to close the mouth and another button further up the bar that opens and closes the eyes. Buttons on the left and right activate different sounds.
Is it hard to move around?
The first time I got in, I almost fell over. I didn’t know how to operate the handles and couldn’t see where I was going. You cant see in front of you, only a bit through the sides. Plus I was supposed to run in a deep lunge stride. I was out of breath and exhausted after three minutes.
Are any of your acting friends jealous that you get to be a dinosaur while they do cereal commercials?
I wouldn’t knock a national cereal commercial in the USA. That’s pretty good money! If they were jealous, I’d have to say it’s because I’m working.
What’s been the most awesome part about being a dinosaur?
The best part is you never know what’s going to happen. You might step on a a tail, run into Pangea, miss a cue. It’s fun and teaches you how to fix things on the fly and remain calm while running virtually blind.
Are there any downsides to being a dinosaur? (Other than extinction)
Sometimes we have bad catering. It’s a tough life. I’d say injuries are the only thing that’s rough. The body takes such a beating.
With all those dinosaur suits and props around, I’d be doing backflips off of Brachiosaurus and shit. Any good stories from rehearsal?
I’m going to refrain from saying anything in fear that it might come back to me somehow.
Aw. Okay, are there ever blunders during the performances? I’d like to see a dinosaur fall down.
Once every blue moon a raptor will fall over and that’s really funny, as long as nobody gets hurt. Remember, the raptors weigh over 100 pounds. There are some raptor bloopers on Youtube, I think. [Ed.’s note: Hahaha.]
And as a burgeoning young dinosaur/actor, are there any any other projects you’re working on that you’d like to pimp?
Before this tour, I just finished shooting an independent called Come Clean. And I’m in the current New Balance print campaign. I’m fairly new in the industry, so I’ll let you know when I have something big.
Most have already forgotten, but this past weekend saw the 14th annual NXNE music/film festival and conference shove into Toronto, bringing with it hordes of industry geeks, regular people, and oh yeah, bands. I scored two wristbands and though I wasn’t stoked on too much this year, I do enjoy scouring data and making lists, and I definitely enjoy wandering into venues with the freedom of the above mentioned wristband.
It makes perfect sense, then, that I would be out of the city (out of the province!) for the festival. Months prior, I’d taken advantage of a cheap seat sale to fly east and visit the family for a week, not realizing the overlap. NXNE apparently didn’t care about my absence and carried on anyway. Jerks:
CBC Radio 3 Showcase
Not wanting the wristbands to go to waste, I conducted a rigorous audition process to select the worthy recipient, one Shaun Axani of Toronto, to be my personal roving North By Northeast East East (I was on the east coast, get it?!) reporter.
THURSDAY JUNE 12
I’m pretty sure I sat on my ass at my Dad’s and re-read some Douglas Coupland and watched Whose Line Is It Anyway? Meanwhile, Shaun caught seven showcases! Good work, Shaun. The night’s winner seemed to be Halifax’s Mardeen (who snagged a great spot playing to a packed Rivoli for Two Hours Traffic fans). I listened to them afterwards and dig those meandering pop hooks. More… »
The honest truth is that I heard Body Language, the debut EP from these Israeli monsters/rockers, way before I actually had any idea who they were. It showed up on my desk with about a blagillion other records, I listened to it, and I thought it was really good. Kind of Sabbath-meets-Fugazi-meets-twenty-fuzzboxes. Good jams for the kids. As it turns out, this isn’t how most people first hear Monotonix. If I read blogs, apparently I would know this: Monotonix are basically the most insane live band since Iggy and the Stooges. Or at least, they really want to you to think that, and for most of their set, you almost do.
Hailing from Tel Aviv, these guys were in town for NXNE and played something like five shows. Which, after you’ve seen one, seems completely insane. At this, their final Toronto show of the weekend, the band packed Sneaky Dee’s, set up on the floor, and started their set by ripping the video projector off the ceiling. Legend has it these guys are banned from every venue in their hometown, which is why they’re here all the time now, and it kind of makes sense. Vocalist Ami Shalev pushed through the crowd, stole people’s beers, spit them back at confused de-beered dudes, took all the garbage from the bathroom, threw it in the air, and then ended up on top of the crowd for the set’s entire second half. The drummer also concluded the set held aloft by the crowd, and I think I was also holding up a guitar player at one point, but I didn’t have my glasses on, so who really knows. Musically, the band is a mess, but who cares? Monotonix are basically all hype and schtick, but the hype is mostly well-desereved and the schtick kicks ass. It’s not Iggy and it’s not GG, but it’s a fine fucking way to get kicked around on a Saturday night.
Playing the part of space cowboy, Kanye West hauled his Glow In the Dark circus into the Molson Amphitheatre Wednesday night. And in true Kanye fashion, the futuristic theme of his set was hinged on him being needed to save the planet as, naturally, the best and brightest star in the galaxy. These are actual lines that his talking spaceship said to him. Yes, a talking spaceship. Not unlike KITT from Knightrider.
Her name was Jane (aww!) and throughout the 90-minute set, her job was to motivate Kanye to keep fighting the good fight in the face of haters, gold diggers, and a general assortment of negative influences who want to keep him down, or, in this case, lost in space. Did I mention that the stage looked like rough outer space planet terrain? With an IMAX screen showing fire, stars, and desert skies? And giant, descending glowing orbs? Oh, and an elevated stage? How it didn’t seem bloated or obnoxious, I don’t know. Must have been the magic.
Despite being the only person running around the set, Kanye filled the stage. When he’s up there, he’s working. He’s focused and serious… but I guess he was trying to save the planet. That’s pretty important stuff.
Lupe Fiasco was probably awesome, but I didn’t get there in time to see him. Apparently he only played four songs, though he did close the show with Kanye, coming out for his part in “Touch the Sky,” so I saw all I needed to see. Ladies Love Cool Pharrell and the rest of N.E.R.D. pretty much broke the stage both with their bass rattle, and with their awesomeness. And as much as I was excited to see Rhianna, she cheaped out and did a typical medley of hits, both hers and others (notably snippets from Lauryn Hill and M.I.A., the latter of which got maybe the biggest applause of RhiRhi’s entire set). More magic ensued when she sang “Umbrella” and everyone had umbrellas, because it was raining! You can’t make that stuff up.
It wouldn’t be a true Kanye experience unless he went on a crazy rant, which he did before leaving the stage for the night. He talked about how people don’t often like him because they’re afraid of his realness. He encouraged us all to be all we can be and to stand tall in the face of our very own haters. And when leaving the show, we were all handed Kanye-made books called “Thank You and You’re Welcome,” which were full of inspirational quotes like, “Believe in your flyness, conquer your shyness.” It was pure, Kanye West-ified magic.
Despite having a perfect 1:1 ratio of good albums to totally shit albums, Foo Fighters are still one of the most entertaining bands in rock ‘n’ roll. I mean, they seriously haven’t put out a listenable record since 1999. So it’s beyond my realm of understanding how Dave Grohl and co. managed to play for two-plus hours and keep me (and about a blagillion other people) enthralled without making me doubt their sincerity (or ability to run full-speed down a catwalk while playing guitar) for even a second.
After getting to this monster show to interview opening openers HiFi Handgrenades (ex-Suicide Machines, the Fags), and then being denied an actual pass to said show, we just bombed around the concourse level of the Air Canada Centre for a while before strolling purposefully past an usher to some seats that didn’t belong to us. Like kings. The HiFi’s were solid, but kind of lost in the massive, mostly-empty arena. They still faired better than Against Me!, who followed with a set of soulless, rote “punk rock” and succeeded in proving how signing to a major label and continuing to sing songs about your D.I.Y. ethics is really kind of boring when everyone knows you’re just in it for the money now. Whoops, you suck.
Then you’ve got the Foo Fighters, who have never pretended to be anything but a bombastic rock band for the entirety of their career. Sure, they’re a shitty bombastic rock band now, but they got fucking Rush to jam on stage with them at this show. I don’t even like Rush! But seriously! Anyway, there was a huge catwalk, stages at both ends of the arena, and duck-walking. It was huge and it made you feel like everyone in the world, including people who listen to shitty music, are ultimately good people, and maybe, in another life, you could all be friends. Except they paid $80 to see a band that hasn’t been good for nine years, so probably not. But good jams!