I’ve already written in rather gushing terms about my favourite band, Propagandhi, here. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that they were going to be playing a show at the West End Cultural Centre on the 19th of October (last month).
My friend Amanda and I share a deep love for these wonderful Winnipeg punks and so we came up with a cunning plan to make sure we secured tickets for ourselves and for a couple others. The plan was to order them online the moment they went on sale (I told you it was cunning) but that morning, despite being at the precise interweb location at the precise time, some technical difficulties occurred and we couldn’t get the tickets. I was too submerged in shock to be heartbroken. In a stroke of pure genius, Amanda decided to phone the venue and explain the situation. Mercifully (aka I’m glad I’m in Canada), they were both credulous and sympathetic enough to process the order. Four tickets. Propagandhi. October 19.
I was fairly preoccupied with the goings-on of the week that I hardly had time to properly salivate about the show. Then, sometime on the evening of the 19th, I started getting giddy. I began to wonder what songs would populate their setlist (okay, okay I may have written out my dream setlist), how they’d sound live, and even if the shirt I had been dying to get was going to be at the merch table.
Cliff picked Amanda and I up around 8pm and we met Ryan at the venue shortly thereafter. We went to the ticket booth to claim our reserved tickets, tickets that Amanda had a record of on her credit card bill. “Sorry we don’t have them in the system,” said the lady behind the counter, obviously unaware of the hell I was about to unleash should those words ill-advisedly proceed from her lips again. Another few moments of her checking this and that unfortunately yielded the same answer.
Although I was preparing a scalding diatribe against everything from the internet to “the Man” (after all I was at a Propagandhi show, kind of), something inside me told me that it was going to be alright. Eventually, the manager came out and kindly said that though she couldn’t give us tickets, she was going to let us in anyway. We were all understandably relieved. But honestly, like she ever had a choice.
I was smiling to myself as Cliff and I took our seats on the balcony. I remember many an adrenaline-filled occasion where several Checkerboard comrades and myself used to thrash the night away in a punk-fueled, teenage frenzy. Those were indeed some of the best of times, when we swirled along in a mosh pit together, letting our bodies absorb the sound and fury of punk rock. A part of me wanted to relive that again, but another part wanted to carefully discern every single note, rhythm, and intricacy. This time, the privilege of observing was more than enough.
Music is the one art form I feel most reluctant to describe. How do you translate what you heard or felt, or how your 14-year history with a band mingles – to profound effect – with such things? One thing I can say is that I felt privy to some kind of otherworldly information as I sat there in the balcony. I was at once delighted, moved, astounded, invigorated, inspired. And my respect for this luminous punk outfit only grew larger with each passing number.
I shall let the band have the last word, but before I do, I’d like to say the following (and probably this is the best articulation of it): thanks Propagandhi, for rocking so hard on this two bit hobby horse, and for making me want to be a better person in the process.