The town of St. John’s is buzzing about the upcoming Counting Crows concert at Mile One this weekend like we’ve all hitched a ride in one big Delorean to about 1994. Since moving here, I’ve noticed this happens whenever a larger artist comes to town. I mean, Rod Stewart is being dusted off and brought here this summer, to much acclaim–providing he can be cryogenically unfrozen in order to perform.
Believe it or not, since I’ve lived in Newfoundland Counting Crows are one of the first acts to come, with musicians who might not be over 50, that someone like me might remember from their youth. (Strike that; turns out Duritz is also over 50, but you catch my drift.)
It is hard for bands to come play Newfoundland. For someone like John Fogerty it makes sense, but for bands without millions of dollars and/or the ability to command insane guarantees it gets more complex. So a mainlander like me has to change my concert decision-making process. In Toronto would I be stoked to see Counting Crows? Probably not. Certainly not at $60-70. But you learn to recalibrate just a bit, and on that level I am so excited to see a stadium rock show of a band I grew up listening to.
But you know what I am more excited about?
Reuben and the Dark! Holy hell, am I excited about that. When the show was first listed the Counting Crows were touring with a decent indie act on Dine Alone called Twin Forks. I was interested in seeing them–but I am thrilled to see Reuben and the Dark, who also happen to be one of the latest signings to Arts & Crafts. They have an introspective sound rooted in folk and pop, but at times they can actually get quite rocky. It is oddly charming and subtly catchy most of the time, and insanely catchy some of the time. Check out the album opening track “Bow and Arrow” which brings to mind the absolute best of times for bands like Arcade Fire and Band of Horses.
Are Counting Crows fans going to like this? Well, that I am not entirely sure of. Certainly, every track on the Reuben and the Dark record is more vital sounding than anything the Crows have put out this century–but then again, there was a time when Adam Duritz and his band put out a massive indie-folk/rock album that shaped the youth of millions of teenagers like myself. So on that level, perhaps people will be drawn in by this opener.
But if you are going to hear Adam Duritz sing “Big Yellow Taxi” and you catch the opener, you are probably going to be pretty bummed out. Mind you, if you are going for that reason I kinda hate you anyhow. Kidding…not totally kidding.
So people of St. John’s I write this to implore you not be like 80% of people who go to a big concert. Don’t show up after the opener, don’t show up 50% of the way through the opener, don’t show up a song into Counting Crows’ set. Show up early and hear one of the best rising artists in the Canadian music scene right now. Arts & Crafts’ fall has been grossly exaggerated; they are still putting out some incredible music, and Reuben and the Dark is at the forefront of that.
Are the Crows worth the ticket alone? That’s debatable. But if you add in the opener, it is a damn fine value. Don’t believe me? Check the video below. Hope to see you there!