The backstory here is that I discovered that my favorite band, Die Mannequin, was touring Ontario in support of their new EP Danceland right as Elizabeth and I were scheduled to be road tripping through the province. They're Canadian and never come to the U.S. as far as I'm aware, so this seemed like a rare opportunity to see them — their Toronto show, part of the NXNE festival, was a few minutes' walk from the place Lizzie and I were staying. So I figured that I'd better jump on that, even though I was a little dubious about whether it'd be that great a show — much as I love their studio recordings, I've been less enthralled by their live tracks, and when I listened to an Internet stream of one of their shows a few months back, it wasn't so hot. The band sounded kind of sloppy and Care's voice was really ragged. But I put off seeing Nirvana because I figured I'd catch them at Lollapalooza '94, and we all know how that turned out. It seemed best to carpe D.M. while I could.
Anyway, I don't know whether it was a matter of being at the beginning of a tour rather than the end of one, or the Mod Club having a better sound engineer than the venue I'd heard online, or just the quality of the stream being worse than I'd thought, because at the show I went to the band sounded great. Care was in fine voice — recording quality, strong and on pitch — and the instrumentation was a bludgeoning wall of sound, yet each part was crisp and distinct. I was perched at the top of a short staircase near the stage, which was a pretty good spot since I could see over the sea of heads. I spent the whole show kind of boggling at the fact that I was looking at the world's greatest living musician, Care Failure, with my own eyes clear as day from like two meters away.
Here's the set list:
I might have preferred to see some of the newer, more sophisticated songs in place of the older tracks, but I guess there are people who would feel cheated if they didn't get to hear the '06 singles. In any case, what the list above leaves out are the bridging songlets Die Mannequin is fond of — some were from Fino + Bleed, but there were a couple I didn't recognize from anywhere. And I'm also leaving out what may have been the best part, when Care threw her guitar aside and closed out the show with an awesome turn behind the drum kit. Even Elizabeth was sufficiently impressed that she watched the show instead of reading the book she'd brought. Maybe next time she'll even take her earplugs out so she can go deaf like me!