Home Arts The Weakerthans: music the way it’s meant to be

The Weakerthans: music the way it’s meant to be

by Archives December 5, 2001
Ego is not a word The Weakerthans are very concerned with.
Fame and life in the spotlight is of little importance to the quartet from Winnipeg, which is evident in how they carry themselves on stage, void of all pretensions and pompousness.
Their genre of music is not an easy one to define, as their songs range from a clean, polished brand of punk rock to slower, stirringly beautiful and brooding folk-influenced songs.
The Weakerthans (John K. Samson, Stephen Carroll, John P. Sutton, and Jason Tait) have attained their own version of success the hard way: word of mouth combined with incessant touring.
Since the release of their 1997 debut Fallow, followed by the 2000 release of Left and Leaving, the band hasn’t had much radio support, nor have they had much time to catch their breaths, touring all over Canada, the US, and even Europe.
On Dec. 2, The Weakerthans finally made it to the Cabaret on St. Laurent after having to postpone an earlier show in Montreal due to September’s terrorist attacks.
Supporting them was an exciting band from Ontario known as The Constantines, crafting a very unique punk rock sound full of raw and passionate energy.
The night, however, belonged to The Weakerthans, and their ability to captivate an audience was obvious as their appreciative fans watched the four musicians whisk through a solid hour and a half’s worth (including two encores) of songs.
Refreshingly, The Weakerthans have stuck close to their common beliefs, refusing to sign to any major label (they’re signed to Canadian indie label G-7 Welcoming Committee) and even undertaking the daunting task of self-management.
It comes as no surprise that The Weakerthans are a highly politicized band.
Despite the fact that singer John K. Samson is the former bass player for leftist punk band Propaghandi, the musical similarities between them and his present band are sparse.
Samson enthralled the crowd with his enchanting and introspective lyrics while guitarist Stephen Carroll gracefully wielded his guitar as if it were merely an extension of his body.
Their set contained a varied combination of songs, some fast-paced and enlivened, others slow and soft.
Highlights were aplenty.
Of course, always a favourite is Wellington’s Wednesday, where, halfway through the song, Samson hands over his guitar to an audience member summoned from the crowd.
What proceeded was a killer guitar solo from this shaggy-haired fan, no doubt living out his ultimate rock n’ roll fantasy, that surprisingly seems to fit the song quite nicely. Cliched? Probably. Pretentious? Not in the least.

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