On December 11th, 1999 I saw The Rheostatics at Zaphod’s II in Ottawa. If I remember correctly I made it partway through the second set before boredom got the best of me and I showed myself the door.
It’s almost sacrilege to admit to leaving a Rheo’s concert; these guys are the epitome of Canrock Indie royalty and I’ve seen them put on shows that were positively mesmerizing, but truth be told The Rheostatics were consistently hit-and-miss live (which I’m sure any of their fans would easily concede), if such a thing isn’t too oxymoronic, and this show was a big miss for me.
Setting aside the yucky venue (one of my least favourites in the city, next to Zaphod’s I), The Rheos were touring a children’s album. Not that this was a mark against them at all, indeed I think the band’s eagerness to work outside of established norms was admirable and often successful – like their Group Of Seven tour that set their music to iconic Canadian visual art – but trying to interest a 19+ nightclub crowd in a concept album that was aimed at pre-teens just didn’t cut it.
I gave them as much attention as I could, which as I said lasted until sometime in the second set when disinterest finally overcame the cover price and I cut and ran.
I can’t recall if I ever saw The Rheostatics again. If true, that would be a shame.