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Published: 2012/11/16
by Alex Baker

The Bright Lights Social Hour: Suds, Sly and Saskatoon

Learning to play new instruments, which the guys picked up in Toronto, has been a challenge.

“Other bands we’ve talked to said it happens to everyone at some point in their career,” explained Jo. “But it is a little weird,” said Jack, jumping in. “That old familiarity is gone…it’s like, when you’re stumbling around on stage drunk, and you trip over an amp cable but you still have to hit that next note…the comfortability just isn’t there yet. It’s kinda like getting a new penis.”

Laughing, AJ added – “Ya, now Jack has to break in his brand new penis – it’s 36 inches!”

Little did fans of the band realize they’d be responsible for a dick joke. Said Jack, “We don’t just have fans, we have material supporters – a whole community of dedicated supporters to help us make music.”

And that community of fans has been growing. Opening for Umphrey’s McGee on their current tour, Bright Light Social Hour has been increasing their clout in the jamband community.

“The fans at these shows have been great, they’re so supportive,” said Curtis. “We didn’t really see ourselves as part of that scene – we don’t consider ourselves a jamband, but the fans have been so warm and welcoming, inviting us into the scene.”

This writer, for one, disagrees with the idea that the BLSH is not a jamband as the band’s extended on-stage improvisations, instrumentals and 10-minute album recordings (no less!) proclaim otherwise. Their live performance has definitely been embraced by the jam community, from Austin to Ottawa and beyond.

“Canadian fans tend to be more engaged, more apt to listen,” said AJ of the difference between crowds in the US and Canada. “They’ll give you a full shot, even if they don’t really know you, as opposed to the ‘immediately-jaded’ vibe you get in the US sometimes.”

On their recent hometown gigs, Jack added: “The Austin crowd just dances differently – they’re jittery usually, people never really get down, y’know? Up here everyone is loose and relaxed and having fun.

“Our goal,” he continues, “is for the birthrate to spike after every show – well, maybe not the birthrate, ‘cuz that would be impossible,” he said, drawing laughs from around the table. “The conception rate,” interjected Curtis.

In a philosophical turn to the conversation, the bi-polar nature of the Bright Light Social Hour became more apparent. Directing a question to Curtis, I decided to ask about the meaning behind the band’s biggest hit to date, Detroit.

“It’s a song we wrote when the recession had really taken root, but before the auto company bailouts – when the city of Detroit was already in a bad place,” he began. “It’s about people who spend their lives working towards something, only to have the rug pulled out from under them, and have to rebuild their lives. In a way, it’s kind of a love song, influenced a lot by soul music and that heart of Detroit.”

But while Jo, Jack and AJ allowed Curtis to wax poetic about the lyrics to the song – which don’t mention Detroit but do repeat the sultry refrain, “I need your love” several times – when Jack introduced the tune later that night he simply yelled to the crowd, “This song is about fuckin’!”

Who said art is in the eye of the beholder?

Final note: No cheese curds were harmed in the making of this story, but cholesterol levels did go up. To my surprise, consensus among the quartet was that the best poutine they had was found in Toronto, not on their tour stops in Quebec City. Go figure.

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