Punk docket: February 5-7, 2016
I just saw my favourite band three nights in a row so my brain is pretty fried right now. Too fried to explain the finer details of why I love Winnipeg political punk band Propagandhi so much, and too fried to lay out the play-by-play proceedings of seeing them for all three British Columbia shows, two in Vancouver and one in Victoria, after them not being in our fair province for more than seven years and almost, or more than, two decades for Victoria. I’ve blocked out the exact dates of how long it’s actually been since I saw them here; they are too painful. (Why they didn’t play in BC for so long is another story, one which I have never been completely clear on, but, really, none of that matters anymore.)
Propagandhi were, are and will always be a phenomenal live band. I’ve seen them several times during many of their different eras (a band that has constantly evolved since their, ahem, humble beginnings in the late ’80s). But with the recent addition of new guitar player Sulynn Hago of Tampa, Florida and the relatively fresh material from their 2012 album Failed States, the four-piece band have reached a fever pitch in their live delivery.
Bassist/vocalist Todd Kowalski is the most immediate and obvious example of the band’s live energy; a raging bundle of positivity who is physically dialed in to being 100 percent stoked at all times. Kowalski’s perpetual onstage athletic shorts are an awkward fashion choice for the big show, but they serve a very important purpose: they allow the bass player to move about the stage in frightening precision. A headbanging, thrashing madman, Kowalski’s jokes about neck surgery and detaching your brain stem actually seem rather close to home. Keep raging, dude. But, for fuck’s sake, try to protect that neck.
The hiring of Hago was a brilliant call by the band, who received over 500 applications for the highly sought after position. The thought of going through hundreds of video guitar tryouts makes my head pound even more than it already is, and must have been quite the ordeal. But seeing Hago play with Propagandhi solidified how perfect she is for the band. A total shredder, she also chipped in with background vocals and some between-song banter.
Founding members guitarist/vocalist Chris Hannah and drummer Jord Samolesky started the band 30 years ago in 1986, an unfathomable amount of time for dudes in their early to middle 40s to be playing music together. Just teenagers when they started, I’m positive the two Portage la Prairie skid-marks never believed they would be one of the most influential bands in punk rock, arguably one of the best live bands in heavy music today and the favourite band of many, many people, including myself.
I could continue on until I fall asleep at my keyboard, listing off all of the amazing song choices and memorable moments from all three shows, including subtle nuances in thrashing your face off, but having just experienced the past three nights is enough for me. I cannot put into words how much seeing my favourite band three nights in a row meant to me, but the perma-grin that will remain on my face for the coming weeks should tell the tale.
Perhaps it is all best summed up in the handmade sign I made and brought to the Victoria show, the final of three nights. The sign read, simply, “You are my Phish!”
It’s a joke that anybody who has followed their favourite band around would probably get. Hannah seemed confused, which only made it more funny and fitting to me. But Kowalski saw it and laughed, as did Hago. (Earlier in the night, Kowalski threw food at the window of the restaurant I was eating at with my wife’s family as the band walked by, and almost ruined our fancy dinner… Just kidding. It was fucking hilarious.)
Anyway, enough. I’m blissfully knackered. So, to reiterate, Propagandhi: you are my Phish.
(If I die in my sleep from an exhaustion aneurysm, I’ll be really pissed off that those were the last words I ever wrote. Then again, I’ll be dead, so who cares? Good night.)
- Propagandhi post video of audition with new guitarist Sulynn Hago
- Todd Kowalski of Propagandhi puts on the blinders, gets rad
- Propagandhi @ The Wooly, Gainesville, FL, December 31, 2014
- How Propagandhi’s Less Talk More Rock changed and inspired our…
- Propagandhi/RVIVR/War on Women: Royale, Boston, MA, August 15, 2014