If you’re still reeling from two glorious nights of Sam Roberts Band at The Kee to Bala Labour Day weekend, you’re not the only one. It’s a week later, and I’m still struggling to make my words, mostly because Sunday’s show. (SUNDAY’S SHOW).
When you consider the release of TerraForm is right around the corner – October 28th, to be exact – it’s no surprise a fiend like me can barely function these days. It’s like everyday is like Sunday or something.
I knew SRB would destroy the Kee, because SRB always destroys The Kee. It’s as much a Muskoka tradition as the long weekend itself. Before we relive those two amazing nights, please note I made no requests this year.
This is relevant because my beloved Sam somehow read my mind and delivered the ONLY two things I wanted from an SRB show, ever, on Sunday night. Unsurprisingly, the hero worship is out of control at our house right now.
Let us get to the highlight reel, sports fans! I mean, Sam fans! Or is it Sam-fam? Let’s go with Sam-fam because it rhymes, and again – do not expect much from me. In fact, if a fourth TerraForm pre-order song shows up, just sedate me until the stroke of midnight on October 28th, because I probably will not survive until then otherwise.
We watched Saturday’s show from the balcony, with the hardcore fans who watch SRB up there every year. I love these folks ’cause they’ve seen SRB countless times – literally, they’ve stopped counting – and they’ve forgotten more about Sam than I will ever know.
SRB started the night with Detroit ’67, With A Bullet, and Fixed to Ruin. The crowd-pleasers (Where Have All The Good People Gone, Hard Road, Brother Down, and Don’t Walk Away Eileen) almost ripped the roof off the place, and TerraForm’s first offering, If You Want It, just gets better and better every time it’s played live. See?
Josh’s drumming is always perfect. This is nothing new. He never makes mistakes, ever. Likewise, Eric and his keyboards. No spoiler alert required – just perfection, as per usual.
Here is Saturday’s setlist . . .
The obvious highlight Saturday? An American Draft Dodger in Thunder Bay. Carolyn (from Thunder Bay, of course) launched a relentless Twitter campaign to get SRB to play her song. The actual draft would’ve been easier to dodge than Carolyn, and thanks to her endless devotion, a solid percentage of the audience – myself included – knocked an incredible rare live gem off our SRB Setlist Wishlist.
Speaking of setlists, here’s Sunday’s . . .
If you’ve got an SRB addiction and need a support group, might I suggest Sam Roberts Band Superfans on FB? Shannon – admin of all things Superfan, passionate Periscoper, and all ’round delight – organized the SRBSF’s inaugural pre-Kee drinks at The Bala Bay Inn, and next year’s reunion alone is reason enough to join the group, if you ask me.
It turns out if you tailgate in the Bala Bay Inn parking lot pre-Kee – rather than drink on the patio, which we also did – you will get shut down. It doesn’t matter if Denny and Terry created a Northstar-inspired cocktail that would’ve made Sam, James, and Eric all proud. Also, drunk. It would’ve made them all drunk, but definitely proud, too.
It’s my pleasure to present the first-ever recipe here at The Bootleg Saint. All the way from Pennsylvania, it’s . . .
The Summerville’s Sunny Lemon Tina
Ingredients: Lemon-Lime Vodka, Sweet Tea, Orange Juice, and Sprite
Directions: Pour a few fingers of vodka over ice, add the sweet tea, the OJ, and a splash of Sprite. Keep in mind, too much sweet tea will make the drink murky, says Denny, the host you see above. Please drink responsibly, and promise you will use a red Solo cup.
On Sunday night, we braved the floor, and when the band launched into Taj Mahal I started to think we might’ve made the right decision. During the show, Sam said fuck a few times, Josh wore his G n’ R shirt, Dave spit beer all over the place. It was the real deal – the full experience, as these things go – and it was amazing.
Sam wore those tie-dyed shirts from Maine both nights. It appears we’ve changed the uniform from SRB shirts to tie-dyed shirts, and he forgot to tell me. I am going to tie-dye my SRB shirts before the TerraForm tour starts, just in case.
If you stay at The Bala Bay Inn, you can hear the soundcheck from the hotel, and when it comes to amenities, that’s all you really need, I guess. Brock says he heard a couple bars of The Canadian Dream Saturday afternoon, but I heard no such thing. He said nothing at the time, because he doesn’t play games with my heart as a rule, and if it wasn’t played, I might’ve cried.
But it WAS played, and I still almost cried, mostly because I wanted nothing more in entire world than to chant S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M with Sam! It’s always busted out in the best places (like Jackson-Triggs, or all-request Minotaur shows in London, ON) without me – until now.
You’ll have to forgive me – I did not record one second of the song, ’cause I just wanted to sing along with everybody else, because that’s the point of this one. Surprisingly, nothing’s shown up on YouTube yet, but when it does, you will be the first to know.
Additional weekend highlights include Nuge, who was particularly on fire with two beyond-exceptional performances, including a stellar Mind Flood closing out Sunday night, and James (in general), who I just love, but if he does not tone down his fierce fashion choices, my heart will explode and I will RIP. The black makeup he wore Sunday night – symbols drawn all over his face inspired by a conversation about philosophy while sunbathing with Chet, apparently – blows the kimono right outta Bala Bay.
Speaking of Chet, The Kee is the first time I’ve personally seen resident saxologist Chet Doxas on stage with the band in over a year, and undeniably, there’s a fuller, richer overall sound when Chet and his sax are around. A prime example of this includes the best Uprising Down Under I’ve ever heard, played on Saturday night.
You cannot see Josh, Eric, or Chet when you’re mashed up against The Kee stage – you can only hear the flawless sounds of Josh, Eric, and Chet. This is the price you pay for proximity. You’re rewarded with a drumstick (thank you, Josh!), AND the best possible view of Sam hoisted up to surf the crowd – the OTHER only thing I ever wanted from an SRB show, ever.
We missed Bala 2015, Sam crowd surfed, and my heart broke into a million pieces. Then it happened again and again, and we missed it, again and again . . . until Sunday night. Sam climbed off the stage during Brother Down, disappeared into the crowd, and miraculously – magically, even – ended up right behind us.
Here’s two videos. The first is mine and it will not win any cinematography awards, ’cause I kinda lost my shit, but you’ll get the idea . . .
And here’s a second video from the balcony I found on YouTube . . .
Somewhere along the way, Sam lost a shoe in the crowd, and half the audience offered theirs up in return. Sam took special care to return an especially fancy boot to it’s rightful owner. Eventually, Sam got his shoe back – thank God, because I would’ve lost all faith in humanity if he did not – and everything was right in the world again.
You’d think, given I’m a claustrophobic germaphobe who is terrified of rough crowds, the front row of a sold-out Kee show might not be the best place for me, and you’d probably be right. (Case in point: when someone behind me kindly offered their shoe up to Sam, beer from said shoe poured out – all over my face).
So, I don’t know if I would’ve given the floor a chance, considering the unusually rowdy crowd the night before, without the SRBSFs . . . Marni and Steve – who came all the way from Halifax – Denny, Terry, Carolyn, Shannon, and SRBSF-in-training Alicia . . . but I’m SO HAPPY I did, because it ended up being one of the best concert experiences – SRB or otherwise – EVER. There’s not a chance I would’ve enjoyed my only two real goals in life – a live Canadian Dream experience and witnessing Sam crowd surf with my own two eyes – as much if I wasn’t on the floor with this crew, that’s for sure.
It’s like Sam always says – stay true to your friends, ’cause they’ll save you in the end. See you next year, Bala!
(All photo credits except Sam in the crowd and James: Judy Robinson, who convinced me to go to The Kee in the first place! xoxo, Judy!)