Sloan at Chop Suey, Seattle | 28 September 2008
Sloan were at the comfortably small and comfortably full Chop Suey last night. The Halifax, Nova Scotia band are at the tail end of their North American tour for their ninth album Parallel Play. These Canadians continue to struggle to break it big in the US, and it remains a mystery as to why they remain relatively unknown here while they enjoy modest success in the great white north. Frankly it’s amazing how little attention these guys get, leading up to Sunday night’s show there was virtually no press or radio play. Maybe that would be understandable if the band’s quality control had fallen off and they were putting out really bad records. That is certainly not the case with Sloan who’s last two records are just as good as anything else in their catalog. Their newest, Parallel Play is one of my favorites of this year, with all four members of the band contributing three songs with the exception of drummer Andrew who sneaks in an extra one.
So Sloan keep chugging along, flying under the radar of nearly everyone, everyone except those who know. What do they know? Well they know that Sloan live is guaranteed good. Last night was no exception. The band played for two solid hours. They only looked out of breath a couple times from such a lengthy set. Lucky for them they had some commercial breaks courtesy of the jokey MRCH Radio bit. While Andrew Scott comes out from behind the drums to do his songs, the guy selling their t-shirts doubled as an MC/morning drive dj, playing goofy commercials for deli’s and Moosehead beer (‘You get more head with Moosehead’). The last time Sloan were in town, I thought their set kind of slowed down when Andrew came out from behind the drums, but that was not the case this night. The punk energy of Emergency 911, the Dylan-esque Down in the Basement, and possibly the best, People in the Sky (from their second album Twiced Removed) all were stellar. Andrew’s great songs aside, Sloan are at their best when he’s behind the drums. That puts Chris Murphy back on bass, Jay Ferguson back on guitar and Patrick Pentland playing guitar. Pentland being the only one that doesn’t change instruments when the band play Andrew’s songs. Once again my hopes were dashed to hear She Says What She Means from Navy Blues but consolations like Penpals, Money City Maniacs, The Good In Everyone, Who Taught You To Live that Way, and Losing California more than made up for it. Chris Murphy, the prankster in band was pretty restrained. Though he did put down his bass for I’m Not a Kid Anymore and played lead singer part with his goofy moves, though no kicks as the Chop Suey stage is a bit small for such acrobatics.
At this point in their career, in an alternate universe would be playing Paramount or Moore Theatres. As it is in this cold cruel world, a couple hundred people got to see Sloan in small club. Sloan played it like could have been a big theater venue and we new how lucky we were to be seeing such a great band in such a setting.
There are more photos and the setlist over at my Flickr page.