Pete Nema (

3 August 2009 at Deer Lake Park | Photography by Pete Nema

Arkells are one of my favourite bands. I first heard them when fellow correspondent Melanie Shim bought their album before our JunoFest weekend in May 2009. We waited in line for two hours to see them play at The Roxy, and when we got to the door the bouncer told us the bar was full. Undeterred, we booked a day off and took a two-hour drive to Whistler to see them perform on April 24th. They blew us away! Arkells are in my top five bands, and they are incredible live. I tremble with anticipation as I wait on my blanket in Deer Lake Park for what I know will be an indescribable experience I will appreciate for the rest of my life.

Arkells play a selection of songs from their album Jackson Square, including their pièce de résistance “Champagne Socialist.” This is their most epic song and best live performance, topped with some serious harmonica. We are also treated to a new song that fans are calling “Country Boy.” Dan Griffin is the most hardcore keyboard player ever, and Tim Oxford is my favourite drummer of all time. The energy that flows from these guys is remarkable, and the day their music can be purchased for Rock Band is the day I die of too much fun. For their jazzy number, “Blueprint,” they get the crowd to switch from hand claps to finger snaps for the bridge, and not a single person is out of sync. Max Kerman has great charisma on stage, and all five of them are just the nicest guys, as friendly as could be. They plan on returning in the fall, and I can’t wait! Arkells win major points for approachability and sheer awesomeness.

Mother MotherMother Mother is another band that swiftly swept me off my feet and hasn’t put me down since. We get to our feet and cheer and stamp along with the rest of the fast-growing crowd, knowing that what is to come will be weird and wonderful. “Rambunctious crowd,” comments front man Ryan Guldemond. It is not surprising; Mother Mother have been creating music and delighting fans all over Vancouver. They will be playing a couple of more Canadian dates in western Canada before spending a month touring the States. This is a band I highly recommend. As long as you accept the fact that you’ve never heard anything like Mother Mother before, you’ll find they’ll grow on you before you even realize what is happening.

They play music from their old album, their new album, and a couple of songs they’ve never played before. Jeremy Page breaks out the clarinet for “Burning Pile,” and has an incredible saxophone solo later in their set. Ryan rocks a great electric guitar, switches to acoustic for a couple of songs, then brings it back to electric in time for an awesome solo after the “Body of Years” bridge. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but Mother Mother sound even better live! It really proves their prowess when they can have such a unique sound and still be able to produce it without the help of a recording studio. I love their sound as much as I love their look; the guys wear all black with white accents, the girls wear black dresses with red accents. Even the drums are coordinated with their look. They all have sweet hair, and I want to be them.

Sam Roberts Band

Pete Nema (

The true sensation of the evening, the reason why people poured into Deer Lake Park, is Sam Roberts Band. Seasoned veterans of the music industry, Sam Roberts and his band know how to rock out. Being in the audience of their show is truly awe-inspiring. Their songs are profound, their energy catching, and their crescendos breath-taking. Young and old, stoned and straight, every single person in that crowd understood the value of Sam Roberts Band’s performance. I can see Max Kerman of Arkells on the side of the stage, singing along. After their seventh song, “Lions of the Kalahari,” Sam Roberts sheds his denim jacket and only gets better looking from here. I saw him up close at JunoFest (even captured the money shot during an autograph signing), and I’m telling you right now: those Sam Roberts eyes are indescribably gorgeous. I can’t see them from the crowd, but I know they are there.

Crowd surfing ensues as the crowd gets more and more energetic. Sam Roberts takes off his guitar for one number, dancing around the stage with his microphone. Every song is better than the last, and just when I think their rock and roll can’t get any better, they throw a love song at me and my knees grow weak. “Uprising Down Under” features the lyrics You feel the weight of the world on your shoulder / As every day gets shorter and colder… All the things you want I’ll provide / ‘Till your footprint is swept away by the tide / I can wait for a while, I don’t mind / I can wait for a while, ‘cause I’ve got time.” It is so sweet, so lovely, and quite possibly my favourite. As if you could choose one Sam Roberts Band song as your favourite. Their second last song, “Brother Down,” brings Arkells keyboardist Dan onto the stage for a higher octave solo on their keyboard. The crowd is energized, dancing and singing, and Sam Roberts ends the song by thrusting his tambourine triumphantly above his head. Their final song, “With A Bullet,” lets Sam Roberts assure us that his love is as deep as a coalmine.

Naturally, since their set finished at 9.23pm and the noise curfew is clearly stated as 10pm, the crowd goes nuts, wanting more of Sam Roberts Band. They return for a three-song encore, including the drumming frenzy in “Don’t Walk Away Eileen.” Sam Roberts Band fans must help me out; I can’t determine the name of the last song of their encore. It is a sexy song with more great drumming, a rocking bridge, and a huge crescendo finale. Their music grows as fast as my love for Sam Roberts Band, and this trilogy of talented artists leaves me changed and almost speechless. Much like my experience with Joel Plaskett, this is a concert I’ll be talking about for years to come. Sam Roberts leaves us with specific instructions: “Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other.” If anyone can convince me of that, it’s Sam Roberts and his dreamy eyes.

1. Deadlines
2. Pullin’ Punches
3. The Ballad of Hugo Chavez
4. Champagne Socialist
5. Country Boy
6. John Lennon
7. Blueprint
8. Oh, The Boss Is Coming!
1. Burning Pile
2. O My Heart
3. Body
4. Brand new song: simply simple
5. Another new song: I wanna scream Eureka!
6. Wrecking Ball
9. Dirty Town
10. Polynesia
11. Body of Years
12. Touch Up
13. Hayloft
2. Love at the End of the World
4. The Resistance
6. Where Have All The Good People Gone?
7. Lions of the Kalahari
10. Hard Road
11. Up Sister
12. Bridge To Nowhere
13. Uprising Down Under
14. Brother Down
15. With A Bullet
1. Them Kids
2. Don’t Walk Away Eileen
3. Mind Flood

Comments (9)


  1. Politik, says:

    OMG. all three of those bands, TOGETHER? must have been fucking amazing.

  2. Allan says:

    Sam Roberts Band ended with Mind Flood both shows at Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife. Perhaps they ended with it again.

  3. Conor says:

    I was there, the final song was Mind Flood, and it was absolutely epic.

    Just to help fill out some others, Sam opened with Detroit ’67, and I remember he played Fixed To Ruin too, although I can’t rememeber when.

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