Event: The Roots @ Flame Central (Calgary)

David Gluzman July 18th, 2008

Several years ago when I was in Chicago I had discovered that one of my favorite hip hop groups was playing the night I flew in. When I landed I hurried up to try and hit the event, yet alas it was sold out. Thus when I heard the Roots were paying a visit to my hometown I was pretty eager to depart with my money to see them!

Tonight I hunkered down and paid close to $80 to see them at Flames Central. For those that are unfamiliar with this venue it used to be called the Palace back in the day and is right on Stephen avenue (the heart of downtown). Having never been to Flames Central I expected the worst, ie: Flames crap all over the place. Needless to say those expectations were met, but I persevered.

Showed up at 7:30, waited in Will Call to pickup our tickets, then went for coffee as they were expected to play a few hours later. On our return to the venue the place was beyond packed. I swear it was “hey I’m over 6’5″ day” at this show, because there was pretty much no where to go to find a place to see the show. Well not no where, as eventually we did find a place on the 2nd floor (sounds cool doesn’t it?), standing on a couch (not all that cool).

The show was in full force, and I was getting pumped hearing some classic Roots tracks. Watching their live Tuba player was also very entertaining for some reason (that guy was awesome). Granted the show in general wasn’t all that great. Why?! I had been waiting forever to see these guys, I should be lappin’ it up!

I’m really racking my brain here, as it was so bad I left early. To say the least I wasn’t comfortable where I was, and the sound was plain awful (perhaps due to all the reflective surfaces of all the flames logos everywhere) on the 2nd floor (not too sure about the 1st) . The Roots were doing a good show, no question there. But why the suck? God.. Why?!

After much deliberation I have concluded that it was the vibe. I was embarrassed by our own Calgary crowd at the event. Perhaps it was because we were all squashed in there like sardines, but people just didn’t seem interested in what was going on, chatting idling, watching the show through their phones or cameras, texting, or plain ol’ starring around at anything but the show. Seriously! The show was GOOD, but people were BORING.

Was it the venue? Maybe..

What am I myself doing watching the people and not the show? Well I think the people at the show make a great deal of the overall experience. Have you ever been to a show where the venue was shit, or the sound was deafening, but you endured regardless? A few months ago I got the chance to see J-Live at the Cherry Lounge and that was completely different story.. Super small venue, with garbage bins for speakers, but the crowd was going ape at this show and it was a wicked awesome time. This “vibe” was foreign tonight.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “David, why do you gotta hate?”, or “You didn’t even see the whole thing, how can you have an opinion on this!”. As some may already know (or can tell already), I have a pretty strong opinion about most things. But when I pay good money to see a group that I know is awesome, and the venue aggravates me to the point that I leave before the show is over there’s gotta be something seriously wrong. My guess here, the show was oversold for starters (I dunno how any of the ladies saw anything), secondly I’d say only about 5% – 10% of the people there were digging the vibe (I mean, even nodding their heads). I’ve been to my fair share of shows, but I’ve never see anything quite like this.

Anyways, I’m over it now, thanks for listening. I’m now going to finish my evening by listening to more of the Roots in my living room now, thank you very much.

  • Flames Central is the blurst for watching live music.

    I had a very similar experience watching Metric last week. The sound was so bad that you couldn’t make out a word Emily Haines was saying…. between songs! It was an awesome band and I think they played really well, you just couldn’t tell from the sound or the seemingly uninterested (and especially cheesy) crowd.

    Even if it was my favorite artist playing, and it was the only time I would ever get to see them my life, I wouldn’t go to see them at FC. I would be to afraid of the experience tarnishing my perception of the band.

  • Thats über unfortunate to hear. I’ve only been to Flames Central once, for a Flames playoff game. It wasn’t bad since there are screens everywhere, but I agree that they feel the crowd max is more than the venue can actually hold for patrons to be comfortable. Would I go there for a music show? Probably not. Its too Flames for music.

  • Wayne Poon

    The problem with concerts in Calgary, is guys like you Glutzman. “Too loud, can’t see anything”…its called a rock concert man, ever been to one before outside of Kenny G at the Jubilee in your cushy red seat? Listen to yourself, blaming the crowd and the venue. Take a look in the mirror man, you were BORING. Adding to the demise of the crowd, you behaved like the ring leader instead of paying attention to one of the greatest live performances on the planet. And in doing so, missed the encore which was one of the most hyped up, adrenaline filled performances of the year. How is a city supposed to change and develop and bring in the cool acts with guys like you sitting in the rafters with your nose turned up, wearing ear plugs and complaining about your height? The show wasn’t sold out. There was lots of room to move around and get a good view. And besides the flamer C here or there, the venue was killer. I heard every word. Even the MC declared it so. Note to the wise: Try taking that stick outta your ass man and be catalyst for the better. In other words, turn down the suck and turn up the good.

  • @Wayne

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the show. Also great to see that my review has evoked so much emotion from you regarding my opinion.

    Just to set the record straight, I didn’t complain it was too loud. I complained that it sounded like ass. Were you on the 1st floor? If it sounded good there awesome, but sadly on the 2nd it wasn’t that good.

    Kenny G.. Respect. But I’ve seen shows around the world, from some of the masters such as Grandmaster Flash, to crazy punk shows from NOFX.. I’m pretty sure I have a good idea of what a good show is all about. And again, the show itself from the roots was good. No question, how can they be bad? I enjoyed it. The venue.. Not so much..

    PS. The show was sold out, and they sold an extra 30 at the door. (Check the facebook page).

  • As I wasn’t at the show last night, I can’t comment directly on it, but I can comment on the FC venue. It’s nicely done as far as sports bars go. The food is surprisingly good, although overpriced. The size of the place is surprising if you ask me, it seems to have all sorts of places to visit with people (if that’s what your there to do that is)…but holding any sort of concert is weird. I don’t see it being acoustically setup for such a thing. I think it’s about time Calgary gets a better venue for artists. There should be something in between the premier places of the Jack Singer/Jubilee (which basically force you into a seat) and then the arena’s like the Saddledome. Just my two cents.

  • Raza

    If you were on the floor in the front, then you would have the best experience! The vibe down there was intense!!! You could see the band joking around and interacting with the crowd. I guess you’ll be pleased to see Hanson when they roll through, maybe the teenie-bopper vibe is more of your liking, ha!

  • anhedonia

    If you’re planning on posting PLEASE READ THE POST YOU REPLY TO FIRST! All these comments about Kenny G, Hanson Boys, the orchestra…what does it have to do anything?! The Roots were great. That never seems to be in question, but the venue and the reaction of the fans I think was more the point. Acoustics of the Flames Central is a far cry from acceptable. From being there on the second floor myself, my experience was similar. People having full on conversations beside me, about their week, blah blah blah. Not one person moved their feet to any resemblance of the beat – disappointing for my experience. I wanted to sweat it up out there!

    My point: The Roots were great. The venue & Calgary fans: bleh. Stop name dropping your closet favorites like the Hanson’s, you’re repressions of your seemingly true favorites are getting a bit irritating to read about, and I’m a bit sorry for your lack of comprehension skills with reading the original posting. Better luck next time.

  • eggplant

    I think it must have been where you were. I was on the first floor and even though I was closer to the back, the sound was still good and the crowd itself was all over it. Nobody stopped moving the whole show. I really thought it was awesome, totally up to my expectations, and I’ve been waiting a long time to see them.

  • There should be something in between the premier places of the Jack Singer/Jubilee (which basically force you into a seat) and then the arena’s like the Saddledome.

    Actually, there is one. It’s called MacEwan Hall. I’ve seen many a shows there and is pretty darn good.

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