It isn't often a musical treat that can easily fit into a common curated list of "greatest live shows ever" comes to a smaller venue like the enduring 175-200 capacity bar, Mavericks in Ottawa. Yet somehow, magically, thankfully, Vintage Trouble were booked there, not long after 2 powerful performances at the Ottawa Bluesfest, by local promoter Spectrasonic . It was clear, after having seen those shows, viewed clips of their acoustic sessions, on Letterman, or any of the others found on YouTube that picking up a ticket for the event would become a huge priority.
The venue was packed already an hour before VT was set to start, while the crowd was being entertained by tourmate The Soul Selector, DJ Tom “Papa” Ray who played records. They were great records of course, but one collective question arrived later in the evening regarding merch, "Why didn't Vintage Trouble bring more than 100 copies of vinyl records into Canada?". There had to be a bit more room for more vinyl on that Tennessee-plated Prevost which was also towing a very large cube trailer for gear, parked along Cumberland. Hopefully next time, they will bring more because there were quite alot of people looking for vinyl. One girl in line said "No vinyl? That's not very Vintage of them!"
Vintage Trouble in their very slick twill pants, matching vests and blazers made their way to the stage and were presented with epic cheers. Ty opened the show with enough power to energize the nearly 200 music lovers instantly. He manages to connect with a crowd from the start, kinda like a hypnotist that ensures he or she'll have complete control over their will throughout the show. There was a small verbal survey early on that compared the cheers of people who've seen Vintage Trouble before, and those that haven't. Ty thanked the experienced for bringing out the virgins and he was sure that there'd be another date in the future after 'popping your cherry'.
After a few songs in, the band shifted gears, literally, from electrics and full kit to acoustic guitar, bass, and snare with brushes. Of course an acoustic set is incomplete without chairs. Now comfortably seated, VT played through perhaps the best sounding acoustic set ever performed at Mavericks. Apologies to anyone who has ever played, and ever will play, an acoustic set at Mavericks but that was it. It cannot be beat.
The 20 minute set offered some of the crowd engagement that Ty is so adept at conjuring. It begins with quickly getting the audience familar with some lyrics in a chorus and he hands back-up duties off to the crowd for complete syncronicity with the band. The setup sequed back to their rocking arrangement of electrics while Richard the drummer slid back to his stool behind his full (mind you perfectly minimalistic) drum kit.
This is where the show just goes complete haywire. It's very difficult to describe in any detail what happened for the last 45 minutes or so of the show because ALOT happened. It begins with Ty directing the crowd to follow certain metronomic arm movements like roof-raising, or waving-to-someone-far-away-that-doesn't-quite-see-you. Everyone was linked up for each one and continued to follow any moves tagged off to them for the rest of the night.
Ty disappeared from the stage, and as the crowd parted it was clear that he was making his way to the service bar near the front entrance. He climbed aboard all while continuing his lead singer duties. Since Ty's all about being classy, that was as far as he took the mic to prove his multitasking abilities (it surely could have reached the washrooms) unlike Action Bronson at Bluesfest. Remember that scene in Back to the Future where Marty McFly does that powerslide on his knees across the stage during his "too soon" guitar solo? Ty finished of the song with one of those along the freaking bar! Please let there be some decent video of that somewhere.
Returning to the stage, Ty introduced the band to more backing vocals and as he got another round of interaction going, he returned to the floor and directed everyone to bring it to the floor. The majority followed and lowered themselves as close to the sticky mess that the floor had become at this point. Oh...yeah, many drinks were spilled, because lots of dancing. The same segment was pulled at bluesfest and it seems to be a success each time.
Nearing the end of the set, Ty began to tease everyone with a crowd surfing motion. He eventually just went for it, and it started to look a little wobbly. Yet, he just kept singing and put all of his faith in that collection of wobbly puny arm pairs. There was a near spill, and it looked like he was saved by one extra arm that caught on his lower arse. Seriously, those must have been some sweaty chaffy pants at this point to be palming as it was super hot as evidenced by the soaked shirt Ty was wearing at this point. Some might say Ty has some solid balls, and those people were certainly supporting him during the crowd surf.
He called for a return to the stage and the collection of arms and hands that may have touched Ty's nards obliged, so VT could finish their set, do a classic Beatle freeze bow, and feign going backstage. Incidentally, there is no behind the stage at Mavericks, so the crowd knew VT weren't getting out alive without playing another song or two. They returned for more and Ty taught the crowd even more backup singer lines to sing out. With that complete, Ty encouraged the crowd to continue singing, basically some very cool exit music, as the band made their way to their merch table for the high-five meet up session.
They offer a meet-up after the show at their merch table, for high-fives, signing anything, and including lighting for any pictures fans would like with the band. Unfortunately tonight, there was only 1 vinyl copy of their current album that was quickly snapped up by an eagle-eyed vinyl collector early on. Apparently, at their show in Toronto, vinyl vultures bought up the entire lot. They had no problem selling CD's, t-shirts and posters, all ready for signing. That's a sure sign of a "greatest live show ever" experience in the audience and a successful sold out show for any band.