Monday, November 12, 2012

A picture is worth another four years...

Photo by Joe Mac (

Where were you when it was confirmed that Barack Obama would be President of America for a second term? Well, I was right here. On stage. Where else?

My usual pre-show ritual for the night we played C'est What? on November 6, 2012 for the opening night of our weekly November residency was full of interruptions, check-ins with the computer behind the sound board, looking at my iPhone for news updates during warm ups and stretches, and having the odd side-conversation with friends, bandmates, and people at C'est What? about what was happening, and we hoped would (or would not) happen. My freshly-painted black nails were pretty much chipped away before we even walked on stage, and I took permanent markers to draw stars and stripes on my hands. It was fitting that this was happening at C'est What? because last year Paint and C'est What? fought against Rob Ford and the City of Toronto on anti-postering charges (and won in court) -- so our politics are clearly stated and shared with this venue.

I knew Obama was going to win; I had confidence in America's ability to move forward positively, and after spending lots of time in the United States over the years, I've come to recognize that for every mistake the world's most powerful nation has made, there are hordes of resistance and positive steps taken on a grassroots level that we don't see in much mainstream media outside of America. It makes me hopeful to know that regular Americans are right where we are looking from outside.

After our second song, we went into an instrumental into for "Strangers," during which time I asked that if good (or bad) news came during out set, to please let us know on stage. We would stop the show to celebrate and/or lament -- but either way, I was ready to bring either Doctor Jimmy or Mister Jim* to the stage depending on which way the results swayed. Both characters are loveable, just one is more pissed off than the other.

We're halfway into the second verse of "Boomerang," fittingly our loud, massive rock 'n' roll anthem that is the opening track from our new album, and one of the few songs I play guitar on. People start jumping up and down, phones in the air, swinging them at me to get my attention. Mouthing "Obama" at me. And just then, it's the moment where we pause to let Devin smoke a drum fill into the "Heeeeeyyyyy!!!" chorus -- and I just let it rip: "Ooooobbaaaammmaaaaaa!!!!!!" Hitting that power chord never felt so good.

After all these shows, and many still to come, it's moments like that that stand out, that you'll never forget as a performer, and that you're grateful you get to share with audiences -- who become part of the experience rather than observers of it.

And in all this, I can't believe (but I can) that Joe Mac was right there to capture the exact moment when it happened. It's the only time I would let such an unflattering shot of my face go on our official Flickr. I'm still a singer, remember.... #vanity

We now affectionately refer to "Boomerang" as "Obamarang."

Congratulations, America. You made your voices heard and you made us want to scream even louder to let you know you did the right thing.

* The Who, Quadrophenia.