Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Where Everybody Kn(ew) Your Name..... Goodbye Rancho Relaxo.

On August 29, 2015, the Toronto music community bids farewell to the one and only Rancho Relaxo. Affectionately known as "The Ranchole" (and verb-ified as "getting Rancholed" a.k.a. walking out the front door to see that the sun has come up), I cannot even begin to explain how much this little venue that could has meant to me personally and to Paint since our start in Toronto in 2009.

But rather than go through a sappy and sentimental summary of all the friendships, creative partnerships, jokes, and informal therapy that took place at the Ranch (needless since the relationships continue beyond the life of the box -- and also, that I promised myself I wouldn't cry), I thought it may be a good opportunity to run through some of the more memorable moments I've experienced on the Rancho Relaxo stage, in chronological order.

July 15, 2009:
An unknown-to-Toronto Vancouver ex-pat band named Paint gets granted its first show as a full band in its new home of Toronto. If not for Two Way Monologues promoter Dan Wolovick, Paint would not have had any ground to hit running in the Big Smoke. Back when I played guitar instead of just being an obnoxious dancing frontman. Here's a video playlist of that gig from the archives:

September 25, 2009:
Another super early Paint show in Toronto, on a bill with Fast Romantics, Secret Broadcast, and The Ascot Royals. Yes, this bill actually happened.

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July 8, 2011:
Tribute/vs. nights were some of the most fun shows at Rancho. Local bands would take on entire sets in homage to some of their favourite bands. We got to do a couple of these. One was a Pearl Jam/Nirvana night. As hard as it was to choose a side, always and forever (as though it was ever about anything other than embracing all the beauty), Paint did a Pearl Jam tribute set that was one of my most humbling shows. Videotape does exist:

June 16, 2012:
A night when the Toronto Star called us one of the best acts of North by Northeast, and when, before even starting our set (actually as we were changing the stage over from Dilly Dally), the festival-supplied guitar amp I was supposed to use for the two whole songs I now play guitar on, blew up into a stage-dousing waft of smoke, I threw the axe down and we just slayed -- improvising on the dual-guitar tunes on the fly to make them translate. Apparently it worked. I think this was also Devin Jannetta's first show as a full-fledged member of Paint.

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July 31, 2012:
There was something in the water upstairs on this night. We played a benefit show for our friends in the Spur-of-the-Moment Shakespeare (curated by "Boomerang" and 11:11 star Victoria Urquhart) and we absolutely, completely, destroyed everyone in the room. I think this one goes down as one of the best Paint performances of our career.

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September 7, 2012:
I got to be one of my heroes, just for one day. Well, three; this was the second of a trio of David Bowie tribute nights in the Thin White (or Brown in my case) Duke attire. Other bands did The Stooges.

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It was also a night where founding Paint member from the Vancouver inception point, Paula McGlynn was in attendance, seeing the band she formed four years prior -- having just written the 11:11-featured song "Bonfire of Vanities" in a couple hours the day before. This was truly worlds colliding.

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July 4, 2014:
Canada Day on Independence Day -- Toronto bands playing all Canadian covers on America's birthday. Another tribute night, oddly enough -- and one of the fondest stage memories of my life. I was part of a Toronto indie supergroup: a Neil Young & Crazy Horse tribute act called "Prisoners of Rock 'n' Roll" with members of The Rathburns, The Stormalongs, Another City, and A Northern Drawl. It was the loudest, most raucous stage affair I've been part of, at least since my punk days. And nothing more satisfying than pointing at audience members, yelling "You're just a fuckup!!!" (while playing "Fuckin' Up") and being able to hug them all after the show.

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February 14, 2014 and March 3, 2015:
Speaking of something in the water.... I somehow managed to get laryngitis twice before shows at the Ranch, despite my constantly strict vocal health regimens. And both times, much to my surprise and delight, the lovely Rancho crowd rushed the stage and belted out the practically-female high notes that I'm famous (in a relative sense) for. Rancho Relaxo was not only a Cheers bar to many of us (I even had my own stool!), where everybody knows your name, but they also know the words to all your songs -- where else can an indie rocker feel like a stadium star?

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You can catch me doing a little solo set (another rare occurrence) at the Ranch to open up the last show ever on the sweatiest stage in the greatest city in the world. August 29 is the date. RSVP here.

Cheers, Rancho. It's truly been a slice of life.