Brand New, Cursive, and An Horse — Live In Winnipeg, Manitoba

This past week, I took my first big-boy job vacation days…and went to Canada. I know, what you’re thinking – “That sounds horrible.” And it was. Driving through North Dakota and southern Manitoba may be the most painful 4 hours I have ever spent in a car. There’s nothing there, and when I say nothing, I mean the kind of nothing where you have to go 10 miles off the interstate for a tank of gas and grain silos outnumber the houses. Winnipeg was my destination, and the city was…interesting. Let’s just say you couldn’t pay me enough to live there for a substantial amount of time. Yeah, we’ll be nice and leave it at that. In spite of all that, the trip was completely worth it for one reason only — BRAND NEW. LIVE. Yep, I drove from Minneapolis to the annals of Manitoba for my favorite band. I made a pact with myself a long time ago that I would go see them whenever they were in an 8 hour radius and not coming to my hometown anytime soon. This situation fit the criteria, so my roommate, Andrew, and I grabbed our passports and shimmied up to moose country.

The approach to Winnipeg is all wheat fields and then, BAM, city. It’ so abrupt that Andrew and I began wondering if there was actually going to be a city when the mile markers told us 5 kilometers to Winnipeg…or if our simple, American minds couldn’t handle the standard to metric conversions. Well, turns out Winnipeg actually does exist, and we eventually arrived at our hotel downtown. The hotel was called the Marlborough, and it was terrifying. With elevators that looked like they hadn’t been maintenanced for decades and paint-peeling, molding staircases that led to an even creepier basement, it felt like The Shining 2.0. The good news was that our room was okay for a one-night stay, and the hotel was attached to our concert venue.

The Garrick Theater was the venue for the show. It was quaint, if not a little old. We waited outside for about 2 hours to get in, and we still weren’t the first people in line. It didn’t matter though, as we already had our tickets and cut to the front when they were doing wristbands and ticket checks. When they opened the doors to the actual theater, I sprinted to the stage and got a spot right next to front rail. My first thought was, “I can see Jesse Lacey sweat from here.” 1. Winning. 2. I might have something wrong with me.

An Horse started off the show as the opener. I had seen them several times before, and they always put on a good set. The band is a two-piece outfit from Australia, equipped with just a guitar and a mic for their leading lady, Kate, and drums for her partner in crime, Damon. Oh, and they have Australian accents. Adorable. Even better, Jesse came out to play bass for them and sing along with some of their songs. As usual, they made the most of their short set and played some of their best songs – highlights include “Postcards,” “Camp Out,” and “Little Lungs.” They also played the lead single, “Dressed Sharply,” off their newest album, and the a capella outro was fantastic with Kate singing and Jesse screaming in harmony. My only complaint is that Kate’s mic wasn’t loud enough at times, and she got drowned out by the instruments. This has happened at several shows, and it’s disappointing because Kate’s voice is the best part of An Horse. Still a great set and a brilliant way to start the show.


Damon and Jesse













Cursive was the next band in the line-up. Having seen them headline before, this was my first time seeing them as support. They put on a good set, playing favorites such as “The Recluse,” “Dorothy at Forty,” and “From the Hips,” but you could tell not a lot of people in the crowd knew them. This created an entirely different atmosphere from when I had seen them as headliners — a show where everybody knew the words and the crowd was drunk and rowdy. There was no energy in the crowd this time, and unfortunately, it took a little out of the set. They still played well, and the brilliant Tim Kasher is always a treat to watch on stage (especially when he’s as drunk as he was this time). Tim, if you read this, I love you, but I’m still waiting to hear “Driftwood” live.

Tim. Brilliant…and drunk.

And then it was time for Brand New. The pit surged as they walked on stage, and the crowd went crazy as they started playing the opening chords to “Millstone.” There isn’t much to say other than their set was incredible. What the crowd lacked in energy for the Cursive set, they more than made up for this time around. I’ve seen Brand New A LOT and this was the best I’ve ever seen them play and the most energetic crowd I’ve been a part of. It was two hours of people going crazy, and I think the band fed off of that. They even took a crowd request, which I’ve never seen happen, and played fan-favorite “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows,” and people went insane (like they always do) for oldies “Seventy Times Seven” and “Jude Law and a Semester Abroad.”  The rest of the set was chock full of all their good stuff from their last three albums (check out the setlist at the bottom for a complete rundown), and they even played an extra song that wasn’t on the setlist, “Mixtape”, from their first album. Other highlights include Jesse’s mic stand getting loose and swinging everywhere. He continued playing guitar and singing while following the mic as it swung in circles. Because he’s awesome. They also played the opening from Deja Entendu of “Tautou” into “Sic Transit Gloria,” which I had never seen in unison before. The band closed with the most insane version of “You Won’t Know” I’ve ever seen, with the band jamming for a good 15 minutes and Jesse bouncing around the stage throwing his guitar everywhere, eventually breaking a string and hurting his hand as he slammed it against an amp. Oh, and Vin, their guitarist, played his guitar with a lamp…and then stuck the lamp inside his hoodie as he continued to play. It was awesome. After “You Won’t Know” and several minutes of the crowd chanting for an encore, Jesse came back out by himself and played “Play Crack the Sky” on acoustic for a perfect closer to the night. To make the night even better, the stage security guard snagged me a setlist for helping point out crowd surfers a couple times. Who says nice guys finish last?

Vin and a lamp.

The man himself

Andrew and I left the venue and made our way back to the hotel room to change before deciding to walk the streets of downtown Winnipeg looking for some food. While our search for food proved futile because Canada is horrible, we did run into Jesse Lacey outside the theater signing autographs for fans that had stuck around the tour bus. I got to talk to him for a few minutes, and thanked him for making my life better. As always when I’ve talked to him, he was ridiculously nice and thanked me for driving all the way from Minneapolis for the show. The rumor of him being unappreciative of his fans has and always will be completely unfounded.

After finally finding food after having to drive through most of Winnipeg, we got back to the hotel for a night of sleep featuring Jack Nicholson chasing me through the halls of our hotel with an axe. Cool. The drive home in the morning was about as uneventful as you would expect a drive through North Dakota would be, and we arrived home safe and sound in Minneapolis. I have never been more appreciative of how great of a city Minneapolis really is. Seriously, don’t go to Winnipeg. Unless Brand New is there.

And stop at Tim Horton’s because I’m convinced it’s the only worthwhile thing in Canada. Their donuts are to die for.

Awesome photos courtesy of Jami Holden!

2 Responses to “Brand New, Cursive, and An Horse — Live In Winnipeg, Manitoba”
  1. Kassie Kennedy says:

    I stumbled upon your blog and was enjoying reading it as we have the same taste in music and found it quite interesting to hear your opinions. Then I came across this post and I am completely insulted by the way you talked about Canada. Why are so many American’s so ignorant and rude? Honestly, have you ever travelled anywhere in Canada besides Winnipeg? Or are you completely judging our entire country based off of one city and one experience? It’s unfortunate that many American’s are so ignorant and don’t take the time to learn about other countries. ESPECIALLY Canada because we are neighbours and are your allies. One day when America goes down the tubes (more so than it already is), I hope we don’t let in any American’s that come running to the border.

  2. Wes B. says:

    I’m glad you like our Tim Hortons! Aren’t the donuts amazing? That show looked really neat and enjoyable!

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