Because sometimes they only come through at the last minute, and sometimes they are private functions, and sometimes it is more work to talk about the gigs than to play them, a handful of shows eked out lately that we never mentioned here on our blog, an omission we intend to now correct:
August 22nd, as suggested, we returned to the Trout Lake Community Centre for another delightful outdoor evening concert, courtesy of the Myrtle Family Band who invited us to open. Repeat customers were veritably outraged with delight. One precocious tot wanted us to make impromptu musical arrangements of all of their favorite nursery rhymes — perhaps a project for another time. Only one on this occasion.
September 8th we bravely traversed the Great Ice Wall in order to take up an invitation to perform at the Sh’Bang festival, located in the beautiful Lookout Arts Quarry south of Bellingham.
September 12th we descended into Calabash’s caged basement between drag lip sync acts to enjoy a slice of cake and blitz through a blisteringly short set (prior to an Accordion Noir Festival visit from our visiting Bay Area pal Renee de la Prade on the radio) at the Catalogue of Independent Arts’ launch party for this season’s installment of their “See Seven” catalogue of arts events — for which we were paid in the following swell ad in their pages:
(Now all we need is some more recent gushing copy for our press kit!)
Then we performed Sept 19th at the Stanley Park Rowing Club, an organization counting among its honorary membership British royals who write in with letters of congratulations when their rugby clubs reach a century of age. There we played in support of one of the few Vancouver political organizations with which we could share a room without having to hold our noses: the end-of-summer BBQ of municipal party COPE. Despite preparing a set of old folk songs for, well, old folks, we ended up jamming instrumentals during supper (Fred Bass wanted to know: is that what is called klezmer?) and then, after Ben West spoke at length on many weighty matters, ripping through our power set for the youth slate. (Then getting lost in Stanley Park, then giving Norway’s accordion siren Guro von Germeten a ride back to Geoff Berner’s place from her Accordion Noir radio appearance!)
(Photos courtesy of AHA Media. SpongeDev not depicted due to late arrival 8)
Finally, despite rodents and humans coming together to coordinate elaborate preparations, we did not manage to field a physical presence last night, October 6th, at the eleventh annual Horace Phair party in Portland over Columbus Day (Wyoming Johnny did, but it takes at least two to be a “we”. Blackbox’s excuse is his accordion’s tapeworm.) Nonetheless, hearkening way back to the ridiculous technological underpinnings of our initial association with our jolly chums there, we managed to set up a videoconference through Google+ Hangouts (Skype wouldn’t return a picture from our end!) and after some awkward small talk played a set as an international duet over broadband, Johnny live in a Portland Saluthaus living room with a banjo and Blackbox in HIS Vancouver living room on accordion and banjo-ukulele, with guest Plank appearances for the first time from his pets Jim Casy the cat and Pickles the dog. Songs We Never Play Anymore came out for fans from way back, and were sung along to with minimal latency, making for the second most memorable tele-presence at this year’s party. If you can’t be there, this was a distant consolation prize, but a virtual party is better than a kick in the pants. We will drown our sorrows in turkey.
Nearly three years after our stint at the first installment of this series, the Rio Theatre (1660 E. Broadway at Commercial Drive) swings back into action with another night of East Van bands playing its stage, this time all providing soundtracks to silent film screenings behind them. All the major players are back from last time, plus more more more!
Instead of working in tandem with the magic of Dr. T as we did before, this time we’ll be doing music and foley for a black and white animated classic on the theme of responsible libation, which will this time be possible at the Rio! Your $10 (in advance from brownpapertickets, $12 at the door) doesn’t just get you these filmic interpretations from some of East Van’s most delightfully twisted musical minds, but also an electro-swing dance party at the end!
Depending on how things go, we may have to get together an expanded set to allow us to provide soundtrack to a whole film festival at some point! And speaking of how things went, congrats to the Lunchgroup Heavy Industries’ raising of over $1100 at last week’s fundraiser show.
Bonus! For your enjoyment, a picture-in-picture presentation of the Creaking Planks providing a soundtrack and foley effects for the 1928 Felix the Cat short Woos Whoopee, performed at this event to great acclaim.
And just like that, it’s that time again: another year, another anniversary show. It almost feels like we’re still recovering from last year’s! But some things, sufficiently repeated, grow into custom — almost tradition. We’ve still got a crack squad of sharp acoustic players with demented musical tastes, and again we’ve managed to bolster them with opening sets from some of our favourite acts: in this case, Prince George’s philosopher-king of the singer-songwriters, Raghu Lokanathan, as well as Vancouver’s accordion-queen-in-absentia, Ana Bon-Bon taking a rare tour of the colonies from her new seat in London, England! And as with last year, this year we also congregate to celebrate with this show at the Railway Club, upstairs at 579 Dunsmuir Street. The show should be rolling by 8:30 pm, and again, admission is $8, or $6 for Railway Club members.
We’re learning some new songs (at least one of which is not only new to us but to the world!) and exhuming other lost and forgotten works from the great 20th century popular songbook… and of course polishing up the favorite of the discriminating Heineken fan, Jaan Pehechaan Ho. It should be a great time (the only thing going downtown on a Wednesday night!) that we won’t see the likes of until, well, January 2013, so we hope to catch you out Wednesday, January 18th, 2012!
Many thanks to Daisy-Jones Locher for the amazing poster artwork; you should be seeing it on some of a new run of buttons, and who knows what other goodies we’re going to come up with for the merch table of the damned?
This performance is a presentation of CFRO 102.7 fm’s Accordion Noir radio show.
We got to play with Raghu at the show, on his anthemic “theme song”, and here’s proof:
Here we are, April 24, 2011, in a strangely unsynchronized video (note Dec 21: we managed to correct it, reflected above!) recording capturing our performance of that eternal Bollywood surf-rock anthem, Jaan Pehechaan Ho. We’ve performed it more than a few times, though usually not in front of a camera. Alan Zisman kindly took video footage of pretty much the entire night, including spirited sets by headliners Maria in the Shower and Jason Webley (basically a perfect bill: maybe we can do it again sometime, guys?) It wasn’t a hugely successful show — we rented space for more bodies than we could draw, and a few parties had to take pay cuts. A friend was even caught after the fact red-handed tweeting “meh” sentiments during our set. But a few months after the fact, we noticed something curious.
Reviewing the video footage of the sets that night, total view counts of most of the performances had plateaued and would only continue to increment slowly thanks to the long tail. But our rendition of this song was pulling out well ahead of our other videos from that concert — even synchronized ones! It was being viewed more than the Maria in the Shower videos. Now, those gents work hard to Put On A Show (going so far as to accidentally drive a tricycle backwards into a table of adoring fans at this particular show) so that shouldn’t be happening. It was being viewed more than the Jason Webley videos! Now, that definitely shouldn’t be happening! (For the record, Jason dug our performance of that tune as well, getting to enjoy it over and over again during our elaborate sound check.)
Like many of you, I first learned of the song from its strategic placement at the front of Terry Zwigoff’s 2001 film Ghost World, setting an exuberant opening note of wonderful strangeness and strange wonderment that the film couldn’t entirely sustain. I had to know more, and learned of its origin in the 1965 movie Gumnaam, and its performance by Mohammed Rafi (and not, as the film suggests, Ted Lyons.) Maybe you haven’t seen Ghost World or Gumnaam, but you were one of the 8 million people to enjoy watching the Heineken advertisement “the Date.” Either which way, it definitely makes an impression. The impression it made on me was: “gosh, I’d love to learn to play that one! But it’ll take an elaborate arrangement — I’ll never convince the Planks!” Fortunately, I didn’t have to convince them: Phil & Kimla, longtime Plank supporters (what supports a Plank? a Beam?) requested for us to perform it at their Indo-Canadian wedding and finally we had the excuse we’d needed to put in the work needed to pick it up.
Now, we aren’t the only band who have had the great idea to cover this great song, but as far as we can tell, our new interpretation has been the most popular of the pack. Grinder Nova deliver a high-energy rendition, but in a grave injustice it’s been enjoyed under 2000 times.
Mexican Drug Patrol also give it a high-intensity instrumental take, and bafflingly, the Railway Club sign in the background of that footage indicates that we’ve got competition in the Jaan Pehechaan Ho category even in our own hometown! Their version is great, but due to the vagaries of surfers, ours has still been viewed a thousand times more.
Not only has our unsynchronized video performance of this song become the most popular cover version on YouTube (redeeming a complicated show for us — the audience for that particular performance is now a couple degrees of magnitude greater than the people who were in the crowd enjoying our set) but it has also risen to become the most popular video of all of our performances! This is great, because the internet has terrible taste. Our previous MPV (most played video, right?) was one of the very last times we performed our “faithful” version of Nine Inch Nails’ “closer” with its original lyrics before awesome(face)lyinfantalizing it — regrettably, the night some of our members decided to experiment with some improvised percussive multitasking for the first time ever. There are betterversions of us playing that song on YouTube, but that’s the one that ended up under the microscope on the fan forums at nin.com, where about the kindest thing anyone could say was that they could see that we were aspiring for an interesting re-interpretation. Very diplomatic, sir!
Also rapidly receding into the dust is our former 2nd-most-watched video, now barely on the podium, featuring an impromptu collaboration between us and Free Software guru Richard Stallman of a little Bulgarian ditty in 7/4. Oh, one of those! I’ve got to say, if we’ve got to be chiefly associated with one performance on YouTube, I’m glad it’s Jaan Pehechaan Ho instead of these two.
At this rate, it may soon overshadow all our achievements over the past seven years: its view count has grown by 300 since we discovered its new position as our number one video under a week ago on Twitter! (note Dec 21: and by some 2000 since we first made this blogpost!) We may have missed the golden opportunity for Planking we were born to fulfil, but we’ll just have to earn our virality some other way. We were in on the ground floor of the Zombie Walk “movement”, and I’m pleased to report that performing Jaan Pehechaan Ho requires a lot less sticky cadaver and gore make-up.
Three conclusions are clear: first, Blackbox needs to phonetically learn the third verse instead of just singing the second one twice. Second, we’ll clearly need to track down the owner of the song and get permission to record it on our next album. Third, the Anonymous masses have made their demands clear: we’ll have to get it up to speed in time to perform again at our 7th anniversary party upcoming Wed Jan 18th at the Railway Club, with Ana Bon-Bon and Raghu Lokanathan.
It’s true: much like our legendary Nina Hagen show that never quite was, the Planks sometimes move through circles that enable us to eat above our weight class. Elizabeth Fischer of Dark Blue World is now booking at Kozmic Zoo (53 W. Broadway, formerly the Hennessey Lounge) and has sagely folded us into a bill with legendary noisy improvisor Eugene Chadbourne, with Darren Williams and Kenton Loewe in tow.
Accordion Hallucinations - September 6, 2011
This is a bit of a dry run for the following night, where plenty of Planks are performing — but not in any Creaking configuration — at Nyala (4148 Main St.) for the Accordion Noir Festival precursor show ACCORDION HALLUCINATIONS on Sept 6th. Lee Shoal will be handling and mangling the squeezebox in Ejaculation Death Rattle, Rumblebucket will be exploring the darker side of bent and tweaked reeds as Polly Hatchet, and Airbeard should be backing up Mr. Chadbourne — desperately trying to keep out of the way most likely. Also on that bill is a set from the Cross-Disciplinary Studies Department (Dream Casino) and the Antique Accordion Orchestra (BYO!)
Bonus! A fragmentary clip of us in action at the Kozmik Zoo!