before we press play on this sam roberts band 2014 highlight reel, let’s formally crown lo-fantasy as the best of the best this year. the bold and brave evolution of the sam roberts band is “without a doubt their strongest release to date,” says cbc music, and it’s no surprise the SRB’s efforts earned them a place on best-of lists big (like muchmusic) and small (like your favourite music blogs) this year.
i fan-girled the SRB so very, very hard this year, and this best-of post isn’t exhaustive so much as exhausting, because the SRB covered SO MUCH ground and accomplished SO MUCH in 2014. please note i’m not an expert (just a super fan), so if i’ve missed your SRB best-of 2014 moment PLEASE tell me, ’cause there’s literally nothing i’d rather gush about more. until then, here’s twelve months of this year’s best to start your 2015 off right.
january: a televised new year’s eve niagara falls performance is a great way to kick off an album-release year, and thousands braved freezing temperatures to ring in 2014 with the SRB and fireworks at the falls. the SRB are pros when it comes to this kinda thing: eric’s gloves are fingertip-less, sam’s layers include the ever-practical and always fashionable plaid, and the horn section is wearing matching toques.
FEBRUARY: the BEST month of 2014, and unsurprisingly a busy one for the SRB, who launched their masterpiece with two performances of the entire record start to finish – one at new york’s mercury lounge, and a second at montreal’s lion d’or. andrej ivanov’s scene magazine review of the montreal launch captures the spirit of an SRB show beautifully. february also included a stop in the et canada orange lounge for a six-song set (partition blues!), a much office session with a billy idol cover, a date with strombo, and this up close and personal edge special i love so, so much. (pro tip: the edge special starts around the six-minute mark).
march: the SRB headed to texas in march for the sxsw festival in austin before kicking off the western leg of their US tour in san diego. sylvia borgo of owl and bear captured the SRB at the perfectly dive-y casbah in san diego, tom dellinger of showbams described the SRB’s performance at the chapel in san franscisco as “rich and flawless,” and i took this photo of the SRB (sans james and chet) at the church on york in los angeles.
if you don’t count my compulsion to hug band members within an arm’s reach (so sorry!), the church on york is probably the closest i’ll ever get to the SRB. it’s definitely the most intimate SRB performance i’ll ever experience, unless the SRB play my living room, which probably won’t happen if i don’t get my aforementioned urges under control, so . . . never. it will never happen. praise the lord we’ll always have the church.
ever watch the most-played artist in your iTunes library perform in the basement of an old church in LA, and you turn around, and there’s the second most-played artist in your iTunes library, and suddenly you’re caught in this surreal circle of awesome and you’ve got the feels SO bad you can’t express yourself without profanity? because there’s actually a word for that, and it’s HOLYF#@!MATTMAYSISHERE.
if you’re keeping track of march . . . the SRB played the late nights / early mornings of sxsw (including hangs with celeb chef rachael ray who made the first move and invited the SRB to perform at her annual feedback festival just ’cause she likes human heat THAT much) . . . kidnapped the east coast’s aforementioned guitar hero in LA and held him captive long enough to make this magic in seattle . . . killed a string of western US dates, and somehow STILL found the time to record my favourite interview / performance of the year - the audiotree session. the SRB is just too good to us.
april: welcome to the world, session ale! in april the SRB announced their collaboration with ontario’s spearhead brewery to create SRB session ale, and teamed up with young galaxy to create a remix of shapeshifters, releasing only six-hundred hand-numbered vinyl beauties for record store day 2014. (i got lucky number 502 at blackbyrd music in edmonton).
may: the SRB laid kinda low in may, with a few shows in new york state, so here’s metal skin from CBC’s backstage pass lo-fantasy preview from february to fill our hearts until we get to june. disclaimer: this all-SRB episode of backstage pass was filmed in november and aired in february, but who cares? the SRB performed songs from lo-fantasy surrounded by a bunch of super lucky fans, and it’s preserved forever and ever on youtube for the rest of us. it’s also on my pvr, because you can never be too careful.
june: if i made a list of reasons to move to toronto, one weekend in june 2014 could quite possibly seal the deal, ’cause proximity to more rad SRB stuff than my heart can possibly handle would be amazing. like a flawless qtv performance on friday, and the first of two sold-out nights at jackson triggs winery. saturday the SRB served their namesake brew at the session craft beer fest in toronto, and picked up the award for best collaboration, then played a second sold-out night at jackson triggs. sunday, the SRB performed at the muchmusic video awards and shapeshifters won the award for best rock / alternative video.
july and august: the SRB dazzled thousands at festivals left, right, and center this summer, kicking things off on canada day in dartmouth, and ending in august with the SRB’s annual sell-out weekend at the kee. i loved the kee and freaked out about this year’s shows big time right here.
somewhere in the middle, between canada day and the kee, the SRB headlined day two of turf in toronto, got rained out at folkfest in regina, raised funds and awareness for neuro-traumatic injuries at rockin’ wheel in ontario, played the massive squamish valley music festival in vancouver – “tailor- made” for squamish, says the vancouver sun’s francois marchand. the SRB won the heart of every man, woman, and child in tumbler ridge, bc the very next day, with a quintessentially small-town, family friendly SRB show at tumbler’s golf and country club.
also . . . osheaga in montreal, festival d’ete in quebec city, and bluesfest in ottawa. the bottom line – the SRB literally rocked coast to coast this summer and AS IF you needed more proof, here’s sam and dave (aka minotaur) at the gathering,the annual festival of food and music comedian shaun majumder organizes in his hometown of burlington, newfoundland every summer. missing this wicked tear with the b’ys is most definitely my biggest live music regret of the year.
september: the sam roberts band’s annual killer weekend in cottage country. i love you, kee to bala. possibly the most refreshing and inspiring sam-cation in the history of sam-cations forever and ever, amen. if you say the kee is on your bucket list, because so many people do, MAKE THIS SUMMER YOUR YEAR already. seriously. did you hear me? because i just screamed that. i wrote lots about the kee here, and i’ve already booked off my labour day weekend 2015, because i don’t mess around.
october: the SRB took their show on the road to europe in the fall, with a late september show at the garage in london before heading south to kick off their spanish tour in bilbao. according to my calculations (so, some tweets i google translated and youtube), spain loves the SRB.
november: YAY! THE FIRST STRETCH OF THE OFFICIAL LO-FANTASY CANADIAN TOUR! the SRB crossed most of the country in the winter ’cause they love us THAT much. from coast to coast canadians waited (almost) patiently for the tour announcement, and the SRB rewarded us handsomely with ten shows from bc to ontario before pausing the tour for a well-deserved christmas break. if you haven’t seen this tour yet or just need to see this tour again, don’t worry – lo-fantasy hits the road again in february.
the reflector covered the SRB’s calgary show so perfectly i read their review like, four times. dwayne larson took these lovely photos of the SRB’s show in winnipeg for it’s a music thing, and this review by UBC’s phoenix newspaper covers everything you need to know about the SRB’s stop in kelowna, including the wardrobe choices of the SRB’s resident fashion plate / bass player extraordinaire james hall. i wrote about the SRB’s shows in edmonton and calgary here, and snagged this video of a rare and rad live performance of every part of me in calgary.
february 2015: we’ll wrap up this best-of 2014 post with a weekend sure to make the best-of 2015 list, because it’s back-to-back shows in buffalo with july talk, so how could it not? i’m willing to bet my small (but completely normal) SRB shrine the two shows at the town ballroom on february 6th and 7th will start off next our next SRB retrospective. you’ve got like, a month-ish left, buffalo. hang tight – you’re almost there.
happy new year, you guys! i hope your 2015 is full of everything you love the most.