When I walked out of this show, I asked guy named Matt how he felt.
“Spent… like the good kind,” Matt said. Obviously, I knew exactly what he meant. My body was tired, but I felt more satisfied than I had in weeks.
Carly Dow & the Whole Dam Band
I feel like I’ve seen Carly Dow perform before, but I’m not sure the Whole Dam Band was there. I feel like she plays a country-ish folk. Or maybe a folkie country. I don’t listen to a lot of pure country, mostly bluegrass and bluesy stuff and I guess folky stuff now too. So I’m not sure to what degree it’s country… but simply put, you could guess from her tone that she grew up on a farm somewhere listening to her dad play music on a home made guitar or something antique.
The guitarist started off with a slide, gently filling in the spaces between Carly’s voice and acoustic melody and the rhythm section. He later transitioned to an electric guitar, to the delight of some in the audience.
I brought my friend Cam with me to this show. He’s a fan of Micah too, and we’ve listened to Poor Mic’s vinyl a number of times in his basement. Cam has a pretty refined taste in music. He’s a bit of a Deadhead, and a bit of a purist. He’s got a reel to reel tape player.
He dug Carly’s bit, but liked it with the electric a bit better than the slide. The slide was simple, offering atmosphere and a familiar tone of wide wheat fields and rotting wood. The electric added some complexity, though, offering another layer of energy to the performance.
The floor was pretty full for their performance. Micah opened the show with a short solo act (that I absolutely adored) so people were present and ready.
I suspect Carly has her own following. People stood up close to the stage to watch her play. Her presence on stage showed a confidence and some sort of certainty of self, like she knows she’s a babe and talented and can play with the boys no problem.
Honestly I see any strong, inspiring performance by a female-coded person as inherently feminist when they play in the boys’ club that is Winnipeg’s music scene.
Micah Erenberg Band
I saw these guys at Harvest Moon and Shine On, too. They grabbed me at Shine On. The song I Just Wanna Go to Sleep Forever caught me by the inner turmoil and held me in a place of shared ecstatic depression. Upbeat, catchy and a blast to dance to, that song spoke to the part of me at Shine On that was grappling with a breakup, an emotionally abusive relationship and a great fear of my own responsible decisions in life.
I have to first admit that it’s not right of me to support Micah wholeheartedly because a couple of his songs sport transphobic lyrics, and people suffer personally from the violence that theses lines bring into their lives. I know Micah has been approached and asked to change, and he’s made it clear it won’t change. This is unacceptable and is probably why I didn’t bother paying for his album. He should change the lyrics, he knows what they are, and he needs to know how damaging they are to people.
At the Good Will that night, Micah Erenband officially released their album Poor Mic’s Toe before taking off on tour. Bandcamp won’t let me listen to the album for free anymore.
I expected to have a fucking blast that night. I was singing along almost right away when I saw them at Shine On. I was full-on belting it and dancing at Harvest Moon, alongside some lovely people I can now call friends. The Good Will was packed by the time the band went on. And they fucking delivered.
Considering Micah played a solo set to start, the guys played with impressive energy. They played for nearly an hour and a half I think. They jammed the shit out of some of their songs. I got super into it. Their live performance sounds much heartier than their recordings. What sounds neat, put together and crisp on the album takes on a gritty, full-bodied liveliness in person.
They all get really into it. Micah gets really intimate with Logan at times, starting straight in his eyes, directly facing each other. I imagine the nonverbal communication is off the charts in those moments.
It was funny seeing them play at Harvest Moon, because they played right after Kieran West & His Buffalo Band. Which was like… a quick Tetris of bandmates and bam, next band! Both groups of guys seem to really enjoy playing with each other, and the crowd seems to love them too.
At the Good Will, the crowd went fucking nuts. There’re tons of videos online of people dancing, singing and partaking in what may have been the best weekend of my school year. It was packed from the stage front to the bar. I had to carefully maneuver the crowd in order to get good photos, but lucky for me, people were kind and seemed happy I was doing it.
I’d seen Micah perform probably a year prior to this. It didn’t leave the same impact. Maybe because my ex had too big an influence on what I listened to at the time. Maybe because I wasn’t so prone to depressive moods (just kidding that’s always normal). Or maybe because I just didn’t pick up on the atmosphere Micah provides.
There’s a community around this band. A group of like-minded people, beautiful and happy, kind and joyful in these moments of performance. I’ve started to make friends in this community, and they’re an uplifting group. A lovely lady named Olivia insisted she take my photo this night, and I’m glad she did. I look happier in that picture than any of my other Facebook profile pics. I have a relic of that pure joy.
I’ll probably keep trying to hang around…
I’m still listening to this album. It’s a bit sad, a bit sweet, and overall a bunch of fun. Even in songs that would hurt, like Morphine, there’s a sense of lightheartedness and everything being okay. Micah sings about friends, family, struggles, trouble and some overarching narrative of human life. I have a hunch that his songwriting is so touching, so emotive and enjoyable because he’s telling stories each time.
When he performed solo, he played a song about Faron Hall. My heart wrenched. I was impressed that this young guy knew so much about Faron, and knew him well enough to depict his tale in blunt fairness. He knew the media was no blessing. He knew Faron just wanted to live simply. He preserved Faron’s story in song, and sang about the treatment a hero deserves. As an English nerd, I flipped my shit as I realized I was witnessing a modern day hero song. Back in the days before writing, people dreamed of being in a song. That’s all they wanted. That was fame, that was fortune, that was becoming a legend. And Micah made that happen for Faron. And damn, was it appropriate. I thank you for that most Micah.
Otherwise I’m still listening because I definitely do want to sleep forever, but with my friends and at a concert where we can dance about it. And The Lifetime Blues speaks to me and my whole family. I can find parts of myself in this music that I typically don’t pull out in a room full of strangers. But instead, at this show, we could all bond over it…
I got emotionally attached really fast. And now they’re on tour. And I have something to look forward to for when they get back.
Take me back. Seriously. Happiest night of my school year to date.