Our Lady Peace
Intimate? Not QuiteBy Dan Katz
When I mentioned that I was going to see Our Lady Peace’s special “Scaled” show at TT The Bears on Monday, somebody at The Tech asked me if I was going to try to get an interview. I said no for a couple of reasons. First of all, the point of the Scaled Tour is that the band plays a semiacoustic set for a small audience and does a Q&A based on questions from the audience, which would make doing another interview overkill. Second of all, I have no real desire to interview Raine Maida, because he is a bit full of himself. During concerts he speaks little if at all, and he’s notoriously terse to the press. When I interview a band, I like to get a rapport going, which is not something that seems likely with Raine.
Sure enough, when WFNX DJ Angie C. interviewed the band (which was a very impersonal process at best; the members of the band answered questions while tuning and tweaking their setup), she received a lot of terse responses. Her first question was whether the band would reprise the Summersault tour they organized in 1998 this year. Her answer was an enigmatic nod. When she asked what “Superman’s Dead,” one of OLP’s more successful singles, meant thematically, Maida glared slightly and said he usually didn’t like to discuss his lyrics, although he did then give a vague explanation. I was a bit confused about why a band would do a tour that specifically incorporated interviews and then be so irritated by them (although to their credit, Raine’s bandmates seemed much more enthusiastic then he was).
As for the performance itself, it was also a bit disappointing. The band lacked the energy they had when they played the WBCN Christmas Rave, where they blazed through new material like “One Man Army” and “Stealing Babies” with aggression and excitement. In this setting, songs like “Waited” lost a lot of their steam, and other songs like “Naveed” still used electric guitars, so they weren’t different enough from their normal presentation to make them special. On the other hand, the show did have a lot of neat touches. The band’s traditional closer, “Starseed,” sounded great acoustic, “Stealing Babies” was powerful despite being toned down (and overdramaticized), and several songs had the visual background of short films directed by members of the band. The highlight by far, though, was a cover song. From a band known for primarily covering the Beatles and Neil Young, a spellbinding rendition of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” was an extremely pleasant surprise.
It was nice to see that in a sold out club, most of the people present were major fans of the group. One of the clearest signs of this was during a very emotional performance of “4 a.m.,” in which, after the first few lines, Maida stopped singing and the audience took over, singing very clearly. After the first chorus, Maida turned the microphone toward the crowd and allowed them to sing the entire song, claiming afterwards that “that’s what music is all about for us.” One of the only times he smiled during the entire set was when he let the audience sing the chorus to their current single “Is Anybody Home?” ... and almost unanimously got one of the lyrics wrong, to which he quipped, “Yeah, that was ‘painted fear,’ but that’s okay.” It was a rare instance where he actually seemed to be enjoying himself.
However, one of the most representative moments of the night occurred toward the end, when before “Starseed” (there was no encore), Maida apologized that they didn’t have more songs that they could play with their Scaled setup. Several voices yelled “Carnival!” and were ignored. Inspecting the guitar setup after the show, I couldn’t help but notice that there was a stomp box labeled “Carnival,” so the band was clearly equipped to play it. The fact that Our Lady Peace has an audience fanatic enough to sing an entire song by themselves and their lead singer lied to the audience is a simple example of why the band often manages to distance themselves from their crowds. OLP are a terrific band, when they really try to be. Unfortunately on Monday, at least one-fifth of the band wasn’t trying very hard, converting what could have been an awesome show to one that was merely decent.