It started off with "Get a Room", the night were Us Kids Know convinced Eyes Like Mirrors and Tennyson Extended to invade the "cigar lounge" of a very seedy hotel and play music through their own amps and nothing else. This whole "fuck-renting-a-PA-or-playing-on-a-stage" strategy was a total experiment and it payed off. Massively.
Without a doubt one of my very favourite gigs of the year, each band set up in a different part of the shady Sunningdale's bar. Tennyson grabbed the most shady spot - setting Jarred's drums up in front of the recently installed stripper's pole. The Mirror's set up in a circle facing one another. I was opposite Matthew, projecting straight onto the wall, air conditioner and three shrunken, 2 week old balloons hanging behind him. The Kids' set-up what was my favourite "stage" of the night, cramming themselves and their gear into one of the venues 6 booths. Huddled inside the booth, the crowd purched themselves on the booth looking in on the awesomeness, or, as in my case, found themselves sitting at the foot of Chad's drum-kit. It was a great alternate perspective to witness one of my favourite bands from. Beside's the "no stage" thing working out wonderfully the "no PA" thing worked out just as well. Each band sounded great, the only exception to this been when I did a song with tennyson and yelled into a microphone and fell around silently, lost in the sound of the guitars and drums. The crowd for the night was fantastic - hardly the biggest I've seen at a show this year, but surely one of the most attentive. It seemed everyone there was hanging off every note of every performance. All in all, it was a really really really special show.
On Friday night I rolled through to Kitchener's pretty early. We'd be celebrating Colleen's birthday, and what an awesome celebration it turned out to be. Personally my night was high lighted by colourful rope-lights, hoola-hooping and Shady-Laneing. At 12 PM my lovely group of friends pointed out that technically, Colleen's birthday was over and (it now being the 18th) my birthday had begun! Cue cheering and high fives and hugs and phone calls from Anja in Namibia to me on the side of the street. Awesome times. I stayed out pretty late, then returned home, then slept, then woke up and then had my birthday! It started out a little frantic, driving around and buying things to make people full of food/ drunk. Still, by 2:30 I'd made all the preparations I needed to make and put on my shorts to take a quick swim. Stepping outside, this first moment of freedom seemed to synchonise with my first guests arriving as Christian and Liam rolled into our driveway. Cue Ben and Christian swimming around, Liam trying to take photos of us underwater, Ben and Liam chopping up fruit for punch, Christian making a fire and more friends gradually arriving. Fast-forward a little. Cue Cam cooking food on a fire, Ri and Leeny making awesome salad and people giving me presents so awesome they made me jump up and down and emit high pitched squeals of joy. Fast-forward. Cue an incredibly delicious cake organised by Anja on the table. Que everyone singing "happy birthday to Ben" and me assaulting the Anja present with a tablespoon and forcing as much of it into my cake-hole as possible before the song was over. Cue us taking the rest of the cake (plus a few slices of fantastic Colleen-baked vegan cake), placing little pieces in wafer cupcake shells, putting ice-cream on top and then covering them with pink sprinkles. Now cue everyone sticking these little cakeandicecreamsprinklecupcakes into their respective cake-holes.
Fast-forward. Cue Shawn being hella drunk and dancing for several minutes to music in his head. FF. Cue Liam and Christian leaving the party at 2:30AM - exactly 12 hours after they arrived. Cue Alice only arriving at around the same time, but staying up with us till after 4. Cue us watching Darkplace, running through Limbo, eating pizza and pretending we're Sex Bob-Omb and Rammy. Fast-forward. I am asleep and dreaming about nice things. Fast-forward. Sibs and Dizzy have stayed the night so we spend our Sunday watching a bunch of youtube clips and eating left over pizza. The kids are kind enough to let me break out my birthday present from Anja, the surreal, funny, totally kick-ass freak-show that is Bayonetta. Now, heading towards the most wonderful, post-birthday, birthday present that I've ever had, fast forward to us driving to Kitcheners. Cue us listening to Ri play some really lovely records. Then, me having a big smile spread all over my face when I discover the awesome that is an acoustic singer/ songwriter called JP Redpath. Fast forward to that smile becoming a colossal grin while I watch Us Kids Know play what really really could be my favourite performance I've ever seen them play.
Let me point out that I don't make a statement like that lightly. Since their first show in the parking-lot of the original Canned Applause I have seen UKK play a bunch of shows that have left me giddy with excitement. The surprise dance-party of an animal right event at Horror Cafe, the band in Animal suits opening Sovereign Halloween, this magical launch party for Problems and the band working a tent of 2000 people into a frenzy at Pandafest - I have seen the dudes play some seriously awe-inspiring shows. But Sunday evening was just perfection.
With the sun sinking and dusk pouring into the windows of Kitchener's, fairy lights running all over the drums and amps, the sound perfectly clear and warm, the setting couldn't have been better. Top all that off with Cam (for the first time ever) playing along with the band all the way through the set and you've got a wonderful show. Add to this the band debuting a super-awesome new song called Parachute Pants and you've got a show so special it feels like the best thing that anyone's ever given me the day after my birthday.
After the show I race home to my new temporary girlfriend with shotguns on her feet. I have tons of fun turning her hair into a giant dog monster, but eventually the call of my bed is too much and I bring this really good weekend to a close.
And now...Cue you doing something other than reading about Ben's birthday extravaganza!