Tag Archives: Rob Benvie

#Rocktober 30 volume 14: Rob Benvie, Matt Murphy, Different Skeletons, and Queen’s Park

This month I turn 30. To mark such a remarkable event, I’m spending every day of October drenched in awesome-sauce.

Last night I went to a weird alley in Kensington which in turn led to a staircase up to a strange bar I’ve never been in.  It was a packed house where Rob Benvie of Thrush Hermit fame was to be reading from his new novel. I didn’t quite understand why the place was so packed, but I quickly found Natalia and Tim and hung out with those two for a while. After hanging around for a while, we spotted Val, in the audience, and chatted with her. Turns out she’s in a choir called Choir! Choir! Choir! who were performing that night. In addition, about 70% of the audience were also in Choir! Choir! Choir!

Benvie read a portion of his book, and I still hate being read to. It’s this weird problem I have, nothing against his prose. As he was finishing his reading, Choir! Choir! Choir! made their way up on the stage, and packed it like sardines. Suddenly the bar seemed empty. They performed two songs from the 1990s (when the book is set), one I didn’t recognize, and “Waterfalls” the TLC song, not the Paul McCartney song.

After that Benvie read more from his book, and shortly afterwards, a new band took the stage featuring Matt Murphy of Super Friendz/Flashing Lights fame. They played a handful of songs that were okay, but didn’t sound too tight. There was a large amount of feedback, leaving much of the audience with fingers in their ears. Who goes to club shows without earplugs? It really wasn’t anything special.

From there I had a quick walk up Augusta to College where I went to Rancho Relaxo. Closing the night at Rancho was Different Skeletons, a band featuring three awesome dudes, two of which are named Daniel. Unfortunately there were still two bands playing sets, and they both kinda sucked. So I spent those hours talking with Different Skeletons, their ladies, and other assorted friends.  Most of the time was with Julie and (drummer) Dan1. I’ve known Juile for years now, and about a year ago, she and Dan had a party at their place. I was chatting with Julie in the hallway, when Jamie walks by. Turns out that Jamie and (guitarist) Daniel’s band Fat City had lost their drummer and now formed Different Skeletons with Dan. It was slightly to weird to see two very distinct aspects of my life merge in an unexpected way, but it made for more opportunities to hang out with friends.

Different Skeletons then set up their gear on the dance floor, and performed a set which was sloppy at first, but got much better as the band went on. Dan’s drums were super loud, being immediately beside the audience, but fortunately ear plugs were invented. At first you couldn’t hear Jamie’s guitar, until about halfway through his songs2. The performances got better until their poorly attempted cover of Joel Plaskett’s “Nowhere With You.” All in all a fun set.

After an hour or two of goodbyes, I realized that the TTC was closed, and I didn’t want to cab back home, so I started walking east along College. From there I went to Queen’s Park. The Legislature is beautiful at night. I wandered the grounds of the Legislature and looked at the many statues in Queen’s Park.

From there I continued walking east, until I collapsed in my bed.

  1. Julie pops up from time to time in the site header, she’s the cute super-skinny girl. []
  2. Jamie and Daniel swap guitar and bass, playing one person’s songs, then the other’s. []

Noosed and Haloed Swear Words

There once was a rock and roll band who called themselves Nabisco Fonzie Thrush Hermit. These four young lads, Joel Plaskett, Rob Benvie, Ian McGettigan & Cliff Gibb traveled across Canada to promote their record Clayton Park1. They had a show at The Opera House in Toronto with The Flashing Lights and Local Rabbits; a bill which can only be described as perfection. I had a ticket to this show, it would be my first time seeing Thrush Hermit live. Hermit front-man, Joel Plaskett was sick. Bugger. At least the show with The Flashing Lights and Local Rabbits was more than enough rock and roll for anyone.

Thrush Hermit announced new dates to makeup for the missed tour, and unfortunately it was on a date I couldn’t attend. Thrush Hermit broke up.

Since then, I’ve seen Joel Plaskett, The Joel Plaskett Emergency2, Tigre Benvie3, and Camouflage Nights4 too many times to count.

Thrush Hermit are not the greatest band in the world. They were hokey and immature and sometimes downright horrible.

There were always highlights to their work, but a lot of lowlights, too. The band seemed stuck in the grunge sound of the early nineties, a sound that had previously pushed their compatriots Sloan to the foreground of Can-rock. The grunge sound on their records seemed more and more out of place as the nineties progressed. They did slowly evolve out of it, and move into a mesh of grunge and pop on their record Sweet Homewrecker. And while you can see a definite improvement in the band on this record, it wasn’t until 1999 when Thrush Hermit released their final album, Clayton Park that they had a record that was a complete departure from anything they had done before, and a complete masterpiece.

Clayton Park is a balls-out rock and roll extravaganza. Yes, there’s a large supply of guitar-wankery, and one must be in the right mood for that form of wanking, however, all 11 songs on the album are damn good! The second half of the album, however is where the band truly shines. It’s all Plaskett, but they create something which is so very unique to the band and their future solo output.

Let’s all get down to songs for the gang.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the Hermits are playing in Toronto. Last night they played at the Starlight Ballroom in Waterloo, and you can watch that show below, I haven’t watched it yet, as I’m seeing them in person on Friday.

  1. Not to be confused with Clanton Park, in Bathurst Manor. []
  2. With and without Ian McGettigan. []
  3. Rob Benvie’s temporary solo act. []
  4. A band featuring Benvie and McGettigan. []

Learn To Party

Been cleaning up old files on my computer and found a rip of Thrush Hermit’s Learn To Party, which I had digitized from VHS years ago.