MUSIC PREVIEW: Resurrection Weekend

the smalls GigCity EdmontonThe smalls promised they’d never ever tour again, goodbye forever even when hell freezes over and maybe not even then, but is anyone really mad that they lied … er, changed their minds? Musician’s prerogative.

Hey, we’re glad they’re back. The resurrection of one of Edmonton’s favourite alternative rock bands of the 1990s is of course the hottest ticket in town this weekend. The smalls’ residency at the Starlite Room – Wednesday, Nov. 12, then Friday through Sunday – has been sold out for some time.

What’s the appeal of a band that hasn’t played in more than 10 years and moreover never had a hit single on the radio? It’s no accident. As they proved during their comeback show at Sonic Boom, the smalls still have the passion and originality that made them such a big deal to begin with. The band pumps out an explosive fusion of punk rock, heavy metal, and for some unexplained reason, spaghetti Western soundtrack music. The latter comes in part from bassist Curb Lund – an Alberta country star in his own right – and his boyhood friend, the enigmatic lead singer Mike Caldwell. Their Taber, Alberta roots run as deep as their love for the hard stuff. Rock, that is. Guitarist Dug Bevans and drummer Terry Johnson also grew up in small towns. They all met at the MacEwan music program in Edmonton, and bonded through creative chemistry and uncompromising artistry that obviously endures to this day. That’s why the smalls are such a big deal.

As for the future, only the shadow knows. The lesson here is “Never say never.”

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Thursday 13

NQ Arbuckle – In the vein of Blue Rodeo or actually more like Jr. Gone Wild, this Ontario alt-country band formed in 2002 and distinguished by the rough-hewn voice of frontman Neville Quinlan is touring behind its latest album, The Future Happens Anyway. The Artery at 7:30 pm, $12 advance, BUY

Friday 14

Darkroom – This is swell weekend for rock resurrection, isn’t it? At the Century Casino on this night is Darkroom’s first public show since 1989, featuring all the original members (if not their awesome ‘80s hair) including the indestructible frontman Jim Gray, who verily forged the Sound of the 1980s in Edmonton. For those who say: Who the hell is Darkroom? Not to worry. This show is SOLD OUT. The future, meanwhile, is wide open.


Library Voices – If this prairie soul band from Regina played in an actual library, they’d be shushed mighty quick – so buyer beware! Along with sweet, sweet vocals on catchy pop songs, this band is also capable of rocking. Latest release is an EP called For John. Pawnshop, advance $15, BUY

Saturday 15

Fleetwood Mac – Continuing the theme of the weekend, the return of Fleetwood Mac to Rexall Place on this night is a special event. Since last time, the band was able to talk Christine McVie into coming along to share a big bag of money, and Mac is now more or less the original line-up responsible for some of the more ICONIC songs – iconic, we say – in rock ‘n’ roll history. This show is also SOLD OUT.

Within the Ruins – Shrieking, growling, howling, gibbering and hurtling at a mighty velocity through the craggy canyons of rhythm and melody, this Massachusetts metal-core band (metal + core) shall rock the Connaught Armoury, 10310 85 Avenue. Good thing the building is made of sturdy old brick. Advance $16, with opener Texas In July, BUY

Maria Dunn – Long before there was nu-folk or hot-folk or whatever the folk we’re calling it, there was folk – and few artists in this area do folk better than this local political singer-songwriter-accordionist. It’s Celtic night as she’s joined by members of the McDades at the Queen Alexandra Hall, 10425 University Avenue. Tickets $20 advance, $25 at the door.

Sam Roberts Band – From Where Have All the Good People Gone? to We’re All In This Together, this Montreal soul-rock troubadour has long had a reputation as a “socially conscious” songwriter who tries not to let message get in the way of the music. The band tours behind its new album, Lo-Fantasy. Jubilee Auditorium, 8 pm, with The Bresnard Lakes, $40-$82, BUY


Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen – Who-wee Granny, if this bus goes any faster, it’ll commence to flyin’! This Michigan musical juggernaut is legendary for taking all the juiciest cuts from American music – rockabilly, jump jazz, Western swing, you name it – and mashing them into one epic good time party. These guys eat BBQ bro-countrymen for breakfast. Festival Place, 7:30 pm, tickets from $36, BUY

Monday 17

GWAR – Then there are bands that refuse to break-up even after the death or departure of every single one of their founding members. That’s a testament that the sum is greater than the parts, especially when you’re talking about this outrageous theatrical metal band who literally are monsters. Following this year’s tragic death of Dave Brockie – aka Oderus Urungus – the GWAR franchise has added a female singer named Vulvatron. This tour is called GWAR Eternal. Union Hall, with Corrosion of Conformity and American Sharks, $33, BUY


Tuesday 18

Motley Crue – See above for commentary about bands that say they’re quitting and refuse to stay away. For this, the Final Tour, really the last, no take-backsies, and we mean it this time, these venerable Hollywood pop-metal kings actually signed a “cessation of touring agreement” witnessed by Sir Alice Cooper and that takes effect at the end of 2015. And what if they break this bogus “contract” and keep going anyway? No problem. We’ll laugh, but be glad they’re back. With all the well-documented shameful behaviour from these guys over the years, how could you possibly shame a band that has no shame? That’s part of their charm. Rexall Place, SOLD OUT