Talk about sevotion! The man formerly known as (smog), now known as Smog, has quite a group of devotees. Though his two-part set at last night’s Lee’s Palace triumph was largely filled with dongs from his new album, A River Ain’t Too Much To Love, there were few complaints rendered from the adoring masses. Mr Smog proved not only that a river ain’t too much, but interest in the Drag City hero’s new album ain’t too little. Most of his first guitar-only set was the first half of the new album, and without drums. Along to absolutely mesmerizing guitar lines from his plaid-shirt wearing guitarist, Smog performed some quick spurts of a Howdy Doody dance and very little talking. (By the end of the concert he did make one remark, citing the quality of his vocals on this occasion.) Part two of the set brought on some quote-unquote hits, like Dongs of Sevotion’s “Dress Sexy at My Funeral” and the Nick Hornby favorite “Cold Blooded Old Times” off of Knock Knock.
Passing by loutish music-thug, Torontoist overheard the strange claim “Smog is like Leonard Cohen backed by the Velvet Underground.” Torontoist would make more of a case for Townes Van Zandt, though we hadn’t given it much thought. Smog’s lyricism is indeed intensely poetic, but his commodity is feeling. His is the kind of voice that transcends words of honesty, overt confessionals or tongue-twisting descriptions. His is a music of emotion – with each pause or note held throwing out a sentiment. Does he die an angry man, frustrated that his wife never dressed sexy? Or does it provide a sort of eternal peace to know she will finally dawn that sexy outfit at his funeral? His words say one, but his guitar (that initial pull-off note especially) says the other.
The pitfall of the otherwise superb show was once again the inhumane temperature of Lee’s. Now becoming a regular feature, the heat was at least bearable due to a lack of body flailing or other dancing (although gaseous bombs were a real threat in some areas of the venue). Somehow through the thick heat, Torontoist caught a few Bill Callahan rumours that were bouncing back and forth. Here are a few, rebroadcast here purely for interest’s sake:
1)Smog’s drummer was refused entrance to Canada at the border, causing his guitarist to get behind the skins.
2)Smog is now dating San Francisco harp nymph Joanna Newsom.
3)Smog loves boxing.