Barenaked Ladies Are Me tour - great music, politics, and tech!

This week I was lucky enough to catch Toronto indie band Barenaked Ladies at the Gibson Amphitheatre in LA. I've been going to BNL shows since the band played the Scarborough Town Centre in suburban Toronto, while their parents sold their homemade demo tape out of a box next to the stage. I've been a fan for more than half my life, and I love the direction that the band has taken: musically, socially, politically and technologically.

The new album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me (BLAM) has everything I love about BNL -- charming, quirky, catchy songs (especially the uptempo ones) that combine a total enthusiasm with self-reflexive, ironic wit. BNL songs are sly jokes in musical form. My favorites are tracks like "Running Out of Ink," "Wind it Up" and "Why Say Anything Nice?"

The show was fantastic. BNL goofed it up on stage like the class-clown in high-school -- it was like seeing your buddies having the best time ever, except that your buddies happen to be fantastic musicians. They do rock-star poses that dissolve into giggles, a little bit of on-stage yoga, and generally freak out like they're having the time of their lives.

At the show, I bought BLAM on a 256MB USB key, for $25. The key came loaded with the entire new album in MP3 form, a ton of live tracks, graphics, videos, ringtones, and basically everything else you could want -- and when I was done moving all that stuff to my laptop, I was left with a useful USB key, instead of a lump of CD plastic that I would have to lug around with me every time I moved, pay to stick in a storage locker, and never listen to again.

The USB key is part of the BNL political/technical/social picture. Recently, BNL front-man Steve Page founded an upstart association for Canadian musicians and labels that takes the radically sensible position that DRM sucks, fans shouldn't be sued, and musicians should work the the Internet, not against it.

This has had widespread political ramifications in Canada. The departure of all the Canadian labels from the Canadian Recording Industry Association has left CRIA in the awkward position of only representing multinational, US-centric music companies. When CRIA hits up Parliament for special favours, they speak against the stated position of the Canadian-owned labels and Canadian musicians.

BNL and Steve Page have made great strides with this campaign, and they've spent a lot of time on Parliament Hill campaigning for a better deal for Canadian music fans and Canadian artists than anyone is going to get from the US-led majors.

BNL also gave lobby space over to global-warming groups that sold carbon credits to offset the tank of gas in your car for $5, and flashed interesting stats about carbon reduction on the jumbotron between the opening act and their show.


BNL encourage fans to upload and share concert shots and videos, make their own t-shirts, and generally make the band into part of their lives. This is so goddamned smart, it's easy to see why the labelsaurs hate the idea.

I don't go to a lot of shows -- and even fewer stadium shows -- but I'll always make an exception for BNL. It's not often you get to spend your money on great music from great people who not only aren't lobbying government to screw you over, they're actually spending their time fighting the bad guys. Link

Link to Barenaked Ladies Are Me

Link to remaining tour dates: San Diego, Buffalo, Hartford, Norfolk, Charlotte, Victoria, Vancouver, Prince George, Kelowna, Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, London, Toronto, Sault Ste Marie, Montreal, Ottawa, St John, Halifax, St John's, Cambridge (UK), London (UK), Southampton (UK), Manchester (UK), Bristol (UK), Brighton (UK), Birmingham (UK), Glasgow (UK), Dublin (IE)

See also:
Barenaked Ladies release album on USB stick
Barenaked Ladies go remix crazy
BNL endorse Jack Layton
Hollywood's MP denounces "users," "EFF members" -- video
New Barenaked Ladies single as free, remixable multitracks
Barenaked Ladies guy on Universal's DRM SpiralFrog service
Canada's New Democratic Party embraces copyfighting musicians
Barenaked Ladies frontman on copyright reform

Update: Jodi sez, "I was at the fantastic BNL show last week at Gibson also. I got a bunch of great photos.

Update 2: Darren sez, "I really enjoyed the podcast they created while recording their latest albums. It's witty, insightful, appeals to fans, and exactly the right length."

Update 3: Rod sez, "This is a riff on Guns and Roses and the crazy sign they have plastered all over the Winnipeg arena regarding their right to confiscate your camera, etc in support of their 'copyrights.' Marked contrast to the Barenaked approach."