The Smugglers / Flashlight Ontario - Quebec Tour 2000

Since the release of the album "Rosie" on February 1, 2000, these are the very first shows we played promoting and playing a lot of songs from "Rosie", and the first dates of what will become the "Rosie" world tour. We held a record release party in Toronto, and played a bunch of other excellent shows with our good friends from Toronto, Flashlight. Read on to scoop the central Canadian tourin' dirt!!

Tuesday February 8, 2000: Mind Bomb, St. Catharines ON

As usual we flew into Toronto, on the red eye, which kinda sucks cuz it's almost IMPOSSIBLE to sleep on a plane as we've found out from our last few years of being lucky enough to fly all over the place. Anyhow, we lucked out on the movie and got "The Limey" with Peter Fonda, which was cool... you just have to try and ignore that it's "edited for air travel".

Anyhow, once in Toronto we crashed at our pal Yvette's place, all except for me. I was due to make an appearance on a nationally televised Canadian sports talk show called "Off The Record". The show kinda goes for that "Politically Incorrect" thing where they get people from all walks of 'celebrity', so on this show they always try to get an athelete, a musician and an actor/model type. Then the host gets the three guests colourfully chatting about current sporting news.

So on this day I was the musician type, the athelete was an Olympic speedskating medalist (but she won silver instead of gold so I can't remember her name) and a pseudo-model/poor man's Cindy Crawford women with massive hooters was the third guest.

We got going and we're talking about Tiger Woods, NFL felonies and hockey and stuff. I then noticed that the show was winding down and I hadn't really said or done anything to make myself noticed, so as the topic moved onto Canadian Women's Hockey, JUST TO STIR THE POT, I asked the speedskater "aren't all the chicks in the Canadian Women's Hockey League lesbians?". The shit hit the fan. Both these women started FREAKING OUT, dumbfounded that I would suggest such an ignorant and malicious comment. The host also reacted, but he was loving it. We broke for commercial and the women were both still on me (I was sitting between them) and when we came back the model immediately said "I am REALLY insulted that you said what you said", so, still "going for it" I replied, "why, are you a lesbo?" to which she gasped and said "certainly NOT!" so I came right back with "well then are you free for dinner?" she gasped again and before she could get in another word the show rolled credits. It was beautiful!  The only thing not so beautiful was the model who wanted to FIGHT ME in the parking lot! The "Off The Record" staff had to whisk me out into a cab headed back downtown!!

And just to set "The Record" straight, of course I do not think all women in hockey are militant bull dykes. Duh. I've taken a lot of heat since the airing of that show, but really, it was said just to provide a lil' entertainment and get some people riled up. That worked, and the show has invited me back!

The show that night was down in St. Catharines, as we returned to the Mind Bomb, a little place where we had a great time about a year ago. This show was just as fun, with a bizarre opening band doing a sort of surf/avant guarde/swearing theatre thing, and then Flashlight put on their usual excellent show, and then we rocked the joint.

A highlight tonight was when we invited audience members up to pull off some pretty great celebrity impressions between our songs. The stand out, winning a copy of "Rosie", did a spot-on take on Def Leppard's drummer, spousal abuse banter and all. More on this guy later.

Wednesday February 9, 2000: Molly McGuire's Ottawa ON

It's always fun to get back to Ottawa, and this time we were finally playing an all ages show at an unlikely location of a grimy Irish Pub. Things got off to a good start as we were met upon arrival by two punk girls who presented us with gifts: a demo tape of their band "7 Inch" and a copy of the relatively disgusting porn mag "Juggs".

On the wholesome side of things, we had a reunion of sorts at this show. Way back, eight years ago, the Smugglers were flown out to Ottawa after we won a Youth Achievement Award for being the "best young band in Canada". On our flight home to Vancouver we met an excited little kid who talked to us for the entire length of the flight about our award. At the end of the trip, even though the kid was only like nine or ten, I gave him a copy of our first album, a 10" vinyl record called "At Marineland". So, eight years later, a six foot-plus dude comes up to me and introduces himself as Matt Sattler, that kid from the plane who I gave the record to!! He still has the record, and told us it served as his introduction to rock'n'roll and independent music!!  He has since formed his own band called Three Orange Whips, and they just won the Ontario Ska Wars! Isn't that cool? We actually had a LASTING and POSITIVE effect on someone! Good to see you again, Matt! Keep rocking!

The show was a wild dance party from start to finish, and during the dance contest, several audience members joined us stage to flail around and shake it to Graham's hot Capital City beat. One kid pulled his pants down to show the crowd his naked ass, so I helped him out by grabbing a beer bottle off the stage and ramming it up his asshole. He was none to pleased while frantically trying to remove the bottle from his cornhole in front of hundreds of people, but hey, he pulled his pants down!!

All sorts of old friends showed up, including the fabulous Pat "the Shanker" Shanks and his stoner garage rock buddies, Chris from the Stand GT, Tom from Furnaceface, famed emo-photographer Shawn "Shutterbug" Scallen, and the legendary Squirrel Boy, who thankfully has fully recovered from walking off the roof of a three story building while sleepwalking (see Ottawa Jan 99).

In anticipation of our return to Ottawa, this time Squirrel Boy apparently went out into the woods with a rifle, shot and killed a deer, skinned the poor thing, and eventually made us fresh, smoked venison sausages!

And speaking of stinky sausage, those girls who gave us the Juggs mag managed to hang around all night but by this time were pretty much tanked and lookin' for action.   They managed to make it into the dressing room and were basically engaged in the act of taking off my pants for me until Tom from Furnaceface leaned in and said "Woah! Are you getting a hummer, Grant!?!?" What quickly resulted was, as Elvis Costello once sang, "No Action".

Thursday February 10, 2000: L'Arlequin, Quebec City QU

I don't think I've mentioned that it was pretty snowy and cold this whole trip, but it suited where we were headed next. For the first time, we were finally playing Quebec City! And little did we know, when we pulled into this very European, castle-enclosed town, that we were playing amidst their winter Carnival festival. All over town were beautiful ice sculptures, decorations,  out door ice rinks, tobaggan runs and ice castles, and a mascot type thing called Bonhomme, a bizarre sort of Pilsbury Dough Boy looking guy.

The club we were playing is right on the strip, so once we loaded in, Nick and I had the pleasure of walking a block from the club, renting a couple pairs of skates and going for an outdoor skate as the snow fell on the beautiful old town. You can't get anymore Canadian than that! It was amazing.  After the skate we had a great dinner of authentically French Canadian crepes, and then... showtime!

It really felt like we were in Europe at this point, since usually anywhere in Canada we're well known and and people are yelling out lots of requests and fully into it from start to finish. As this was our first time here, the crowd held back just a little bit at first but loosened up quickly and we had a good "party time". I spoke a lot of French on stage and even got complimented for it afterwards.

What made this night special was a long distance visit from friends from Moncton, who risked life and limb tackling the treacherous and long winter drive between New Brunswick and Quebec to make the show. We love Moncton!

The snow kept falling, and as we eventually passed out after a long late night video dance party at L'Arlequin, we hoped we could make it to Montreal the next day without incident.

Friday February 11, 2000: The Jailhouse, Montreal QU

Even though it snowed about a foot, eastern Canada deals with snow much more competantly than back home, so we had some time to enjoy the Carnival attractions in the daylight. We took in the huge toboggan run right downtown,  which was truly a scene out of a James Bond movie. Old fancy stone castles, lots of snow, bright holiday music being piped into the square, and all sorts of bundled up people walking around with skates, skis and toboggan sleds.  At any moment we expected shots to ring out and 007 to fly over our heads wearing one ski and a pole that doubles as a machine gun. Never happened, but we did manage to line up and take a thrilling cock-to-ass toboggan ride down a very fast, steep sheet of Quebec City ice. Mon Dieu! Montreal here we come.

We always maintain that Montreal is the party capital of Canada, hence we love playing here. The venue had a great crowd early, and since Flashight's first album came out on Montreal's popular Stomp! Records, this show was a real Flashlight strong-hold, with the crowd freaking out and surging to every one of Flashlight's great songs.

They set a high precedent for us to follow, so we came out screaming and shouting and had another fun night. The dance contest was won by our good friends Heather and Frank, who had driven all the way up from New York City for the show! We also saw friends from Tricky Woo, the Planet Smashers and the Kingpins, and even though it was well below freezing outside, and the zipper on my fly burst open in the first song from pure rock excitement, it was another sizzling, sexy night in downtown Montreal.

Saturday February 12, 2000: Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON

It's always great to play the Horseshoe, Canada's #1 club. Tonight would prove to be no different, as this was the first official "Rosie" record release party and anticipation hung in the air like the stench of Dave's dirty gonch.  It was even rumoured that, as a reaction to our new song "Danko Jones' Pants", infamous upstart Toronto rocker Danko Jones would be making an appearance to reclaim his stolen pants!

Flashlight played another great set, and it's been a naughty treat playing with such an energized, interesting, intelligent and funny band. Get their album "The Running Season" or go to their web site after you finish reading this!

We debuted a new Smugglers "look" tonight:  fancy white tuxedo jackets with our "S" logo embroidered on the chest, along with our usual rubber boots.   Swank for the Dank!

After a flattering introduction from Horseshoe owner Jeff Cohen, we took off and had another electric night at the 'Shoe. We did some more audience-celebrity impressions, and the same guy who did the Def Leppard "skit" in St. Catharines was back, this time dressed to the nines as a

banger, and doing a real off-colour impression of the recently deceased Jim "Hey Vern" Varney. Flashlight judged the dance contest, and hauled a bunch of people up on stage to shake it with us. On the last note of the song I grabbed the girl dancing beside me, dipped her and rammed my tongue down her throat, attempting to create a scene of impromtu romance, much like how Bruce Springsteen found his wife so many years ago.   Unfortunately, as I found out later, Matt, the lead singer of Flashlight, was mortified to witness that I was practically date-raping his GIRLFRIEND on stage!!

After many post-show apologies, I think they've both forgiven me. They're a really cute couple! I wish I could have a three-way with them!

Anyhow, back to the show. As rumoured, just as we were wrapping up Our Show, Mr. Danko Jones not only showed up but stormed on stage, furiously trying to find the pants we inadvertently stole from him in this very venue four years ago. By coincidence, I had the very pants on stage, and was currently holding them up to the crowd when Danko emerged like a rabid beast. He demanded his

"motherfuckin'" pants back, and when I refused, he grabbed one leg while I held the other, and in the ensuing tug of war, the pants SPLIT DOWN THE MIDDLE AND RIPPED IN HALF! NO!! YES!! Danko was so infuriated, he put his hands to his temples to maintain his cool, grabbed the mic and shrieked "LET'S JAM!!". By another coincidence, we happened to have an extra guitar and amp TUNED, PLUGGED IN, MIC'ED and ready to go for the Dank-Man! We tore through "Danko Jones' Pants" and then kept the "Mango Kid" on stage for "Kings Of The Party", complete with a 'break-it-down' guitar war between Dave, Nick and Danko... with Danko's raging licks leaving Dave and Nick in the dust.

Throughout the evening the booze was flowing fast 'n' free as the Horseshoe is a firm believer in treating the entertainment right! Beez dove in heavily and was completely wasted before we even hit the stage. Toronto is pretty much Beez' hometown, so after the show Beez held drunken court, entertaining his old friends, including his sexy girlfriend from - get this - 1982!!!   Seems like Beez had to be reminded a few times that it wasn't '80's Night', and that he is actually MARRIED to someone ELSE in VANCOUVER. Everything ended innocently (Beez passed out) and we said a teary goodbye to Flashlight and the Horseshoe and we were out of there. Besides being almost mugged enmasse by crackheads near the place we were staying, it was a perfect night.

Until next time, see you in the front row!

Love

Your Smugglers