Friday, May 29, 2009

Mopp Up the Mess

Jenny Omnichord the Guelph sweetheart played an intimate omnichord show in the Attic, Guelph Thursday night. It was nice to finally see how this instrument actually works, and let me tell you it works just fine. (The last couple times I've seen her were far removed at Hillside and Stay Out of the Mall, and of course she doesn't include the omnichord in Burning Hell sets.) There are a surprising number of things that can be done with this little wonder instrument, as was showcased while playing songs dedicated to Otis' father (present), her own father (a duet actually with Ray Mitchell) and closing out with a song for Otis, her 8-month old son who was also in attendance. A song inspired by the true story about making the long haul to Kingston, to regain OHIP coverage, with what was believed to be a broken foot only to find out x-rays could not be taken since she was, surprise, pregnant. It was a nice, short set.

Raggmopp fans began to fill the Attic a short time later for a set that I was unprepared for...

I can't decide if it was a personal friendship with the two Guelph-native band members, or 20 ounces of booze, but either way I must have been missing something. As this was my first RaggMopp show, and admittedly not knowing much of their history, I will call this one as I saw it through fresh eyes.

As promised it was a fully acoustic set, with Tim playing a standup bass while Scott Nightingale played a guitar. I'd found Scott's solo set at the Family Thrift Store closing slightly grating, but by the end of the night Scott was comparable to Gandhi in my eyes when sat beside Tim. It would be nice to say "It started well enough" but in fact it didn't - since even before the second song things had begun to unravel into spurts of banter mixed with purposely bashing hands ("I can't feel my hands"-Tim) as well as head ("...blank..."-Tim) off of the low attic ceiling. When Scott (and many friends in the crowd) could coax Tim into actually playing a song, they were often filled with asinine lyrics about horse and donkey meat (and those weren't even in the same song!)

The lowlights are too many to recall, but a notable one was upon Tim's return from the washroom a full roll of TP was whipped into the crowd as a gag (at this point it should be noted that the crowd were cross-legged people literally less than a meter away). As Raggmopp got deeper into their bottle of Jager (inexplicably referred to by the band as a "foot") the attic descended deeper into chaos, with audience members talking and shouting to the band, who would scream obscenities in reply. It was bordering on obnoxious, and I was considering leaving but boy am I glad I didn't. As Tim was emboldened by audience laughter (sometimes with him, other times not) his rants picked up (attempts at humour.. I think?) and their green bottle crept closer to empty. By the end everyone was urging them to finish a song - any song - just to get the set over with. Maria would have been a perfect note to leave on, but unwisely they forged on, playing another song in which the now visibly swaying stand-up bass player toppled completely, instrument and all, with a crash to the floor. With Tim exiting the attic after that, Scott tried to close the set with a quiet, solo, acoustic song which was actually sounding great and calm after the mayhem that had been swirling all night. However this serene ending was not to be, as Tim - proving to be the Mopp to Scott's Ragg - stormed up the attic stairs, tripping on the top step and falling full out into the crowd with a crash of beer bottles. Up in a flash, just long enough to topple into a speaker, with the not-quite empty green bottle of booze which also teetered and fell upon him. Wobbling to his feet he exclaimed "This attic smells like jager!" and with the (literal) support of two friends he stood with his bass and the set thankfully came to a finale.

As an uninitiated Raggmopp attendee, I can only imagine that this show was not exactly their normal antics, and I will try not to judge them entirely based upon it. It was definitely a spectacle, sadly more for the public display of intoxication than for their music or musings.

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