The Incomplete Enigma

The following is strictly an op-ed piece. There is no correlation to reality or fiction.

This is a story about rock and roll in the making or what we call The Incomplete Enigma.

Based upon a lifetime of experience in candid and casual conversations, it can be observed he is a man dressed in black on stage not because of style but because it helps him to blend into the murky miasma that is the rock and roll stage. The band itself has gone through the transformations that bands inevitable go through, stemming from one’s aspirations or demands or callings in life.

Cultivating the persona means making less of him obvious to the masses. It is the characterizaton on stage that cultivates the band, not the band. It is the observer that defines the idiom, the man in the band only delivers the package in little drips and lets the audience brew the rest. The man on stage is not the illusionist trying to fool the crowd. There is no disguising the myriads of influence of style and styles. Watch that man on the floorboards, watch him jump. It is of the moment. Playing the game, pah! They set their own rules and travel their route they set in their own packed car. Ambition is a pressure filled jam in a jar. Art is in eye of the poseur or the poster.  Whether it is the era of Bauhaus or the animated the poster beckons the observer to see the artist in front of the screen behind the paper and on the stage. The show must go on. The band travels in circles cultivating estimable colleagues and guests who become future cohorts for a night or even more, creating allies.  Delving down dark roads. Prophetically taking a path less chosen.

So why is this called the incomplete enigma. He is completely disingenuous when he says record labels do not matter.  Decrying injustice to others while his own wine cupboard goes barren,. Defying authoritarianism in a world meant to be democratic or compassionate. That thee path of independents and independence. goes out to the smatterings of the pseudo independents is of little significance. Staying true to the path no matter how long and winding. Lyrics drip with irony or self-evidential discovery and a touch of the positive. Effect change, change the world. The persona, with the person is no contrivance, it is the real deal. And that is the why of the Incomplete Enigma.

The show must go on.

Who? Where? C’est What? When? Why?


Where we are today – Paint @ C’est What – November 6, 2012


Well, well, well. Who would have thought Paint had moves like Jagger?

With a swing of the hips on guitar and a bit of swagger in the boots Paint launched into their month of November residency at C’est What down there on 66 Front Street (at Front and Church not too far away from King Station on the TTC).

A hop down the stairs (but be careful because there are stairs) and a step to the left and it looked like a full dinner crowd in the space. C’est What and Paint have become a notable pairing, what more could one ask for with C’est What beer and dining while one watches the hardest working band in Canada always on the go, looking to make another mark with its breadth of embracing songs from its discography.

A prior residency of Paint at the intimate C’est What led to the high profile court case involving the band and the support of the club over the postering charges laid down by the law. And now Paint were back with its unique selection of entertainment: an opening band from Paint’s select list of band friends, and a comedian to help warm up the evening and provide in between set crowd amusement (because as one knows, Paint are not gifted joke tellers).

Receiving or snarking the setlist from Paint at the end of the night was over has been a tiny (and appreciated) ritual. The list for the night revealed three new tunes (two of them being Bonvire of Vanities and Shattered Hearts) immersed amongst the crowd favourites found on their two CDs to date. Some of the background trouble and turmoil in the Paint scene has provided the fuel for song creation. The sound of Paint is always in flux as is the roster of musicians who show up on stage depending on the circumstance of the moment. The echo of ring and chime and metronomic syndrum and keys slides sidewise into a mesh of sproing and crunchy guitars. And one can never count on the standby songs sounding the same as mysterious introductions swirling in the dark finally lead to the moment of recognition. Paint must be secretly planning world domination with the grandiose stage show at Coachella or Reading Festival that lies just around the corner.

The atmosphere for the night was not just anticipation for seeing Paint in familiar surroundings, but the feeling of doom and tension stemming from the election results pouring from the televisions. Worry and gloom gave way to a whoop and celebration onstage by Paint as the results from Ohio projected into victory for the incumbent President. Indeed, it was just another manic Monday on a Thursday.

The evening was led off by Craig Fay, an affable comedian with a dry taste for contemporaneous storytelling that one had to think almost one beat too long to get the point. Then the laughter came.

The first time we saw Paint in a previous Mandy on guitar incarnation at C’est What was also the first time to see some ska-kicking poppy ladies called Mittenz who definitely knew how to rock out. Three degrees of Mittenz separation later Hayley Stark were the opening band for the Tuesday night. Hayley Stark have come a long way since a previous viewing at the benefit for Girls Rock Camp Mississauga where they were a gentle folksy foursome on the stage. Hayley Stark are not that band now with a plus of guitars rocking out and more laughter on stage refuting any prior sombre demeanour.

Another set with more laughter from the comedian Craig Fay, the subject of the site then through the electoral gloom and doom Paint emerged. New patter, new talk, new songs, new shattered strut.

However, you paint it, Paint is still the star of the night. And they may not realize is the constant travel on the road has led to an easy confidence and given them a bit of that hippy hippy shake on stage. And we did mention moves like Jagger [but not in shades of maroon].

Now She Leaves has a hidden irony, the Girl in the Frame has become unhinged but Home is still Home on a manic monday, and you may be strangers when we meet, but friends with a beer before you leave. Did we mention that a certain President won an election?

More to say, more new music to hear through November at C’est What every Tuesday. Stay tuned for the drama and new songs in the offering.

And don’t forget to visit

DSC_8426, originally uploaded by Midnight Matinee 24.

Greetings again! #paintband and #mittenz bring something to twitter about to C’est What

The walls of justice or injustice came tumbling down as Paint and Mittenz celebrated their recent court case victory in City of Toronto vs. Paint poster.

There has been a plethora of change within these two favourite bands of this city, although recently #mittenz have been touring all over Ontario during the summer and fall and creating a commotion at the Niagara Falls Hard Rock Cafe.

The departure of Laura has reduced #mittenz to a trio but they are still three bundles of fun. On guitar remain one Mary Deth and one Emily the two wives of #mittenz and Lindsaybird spinning and twirling on drums. The little interactions that used to be a regular stage occurrence still happen in their offbeat way. Music? Hailing the advent of a new CD with a preview two song CD #mittenz is still too good to be kept in the underground. However, C’est What is about as underground as it gets in Toronto as you descend down the stairs into a near posh den of beers and music from a stage that can barely contain a handle of #mittenz jumping around for music joy. Soldiering on through their repertoire with Lady Gaga never far away brought back summery memories of the first time we saw Paint and Mittenz trouncing each other together [even though it was a February of this year].

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Tuesday welded with Paint


Sigh of sadness here but sigh of relief in the Paint camp as the fourth and final Tuesday of the Paint residency in February comes to an end. If only they could have welded one more Tuesday onto February or if this had been a leap year, but nooooooo! next Tuesday has to be March hare madness.

Hello My Name Is Rock & Roll’s Enemy

So adorning our favourite Hammer City Roller Girls t-shirt [it was the only Derby shirt not in the wash] we highed it down to C’est What to be met by fifth Paint member of the entourage Rachel LaGroix at the door [you talk too quickly – we wanted to buy the Life in the Day ] and it was by sheer fortuitousness that the opening band for Paint for the night was Hamilton Trading Co. with guru Keith Hamilton [who later noticed the Hammer City t-shirt] on vocal and the one guitar leading the heavenly choir of voices behind him.  It’s admirable that one man can inspire so many to form the assemblage behind him.

After la comedie nouvelle de Bridget Tobin avec les impressions autruche, il faudra Paint a faire tourner le monde.

Le bonheur est salutaire pour le corps, mais c’est le chagrin qui développe les forces de l’esprit.– Marcel Proust

Paint came on stage with little fanfare.

On this night the band was a chequered affair literally, striking a balance between earnestness and delivering a rockin’ and rollickin’ performance borne of the cadre de vie. The tables in the C’est What basement floor were well-crowded. In the milieu Mandy was a wicked and wild thing and making the mic sing and the stoic Marcus a solid foundation on awesome bass and Andre driving everything  with some around the beat clash and crash.

The special feature of the night was the radio live transmission of the Paint show to the wide world over the “Internet” on C’est What radio, Paint’s setlist stretched to an hour filled with Paint’s greatest hits that justified the judgement of the audience who had voted for Paint for the 102.1 competition.  Paint was this collective on stage, moments of lashing out in wild abandon intertwined with haunting moments that soared from a whisper to a scream. Not for them a permanent state of solemnity and Brit style dourness. There was laughter. Mandy about to apply for a job and wondering if she should mention she was a musician. Andre about to get his head knocked out again. Robb had to impart his Empire Records background into the mixture.

I love the way that Paint have such a sense of confidence and savvy ease on stage without striking a pose or swagger. Robb can engage with the audience drawing them into the fold and making it feel special – the ringing guitar during the middle of Home when Robb strips down naked sans guitar and sings his favourite Smiths tune [or sometimes a certain With Or Without You] – then Mandy can bust the moment like a pin the balloon with a quick jibe in an instant when proceedings might seem to get overprecious. Hence I am Rock & Roll’s Enemy would swing nto action. With another showcase at CMW on the horizon on March 12 Paint seem to be honing their act bouncing songs around in their setlist but Let Go and End of the Reel will always lead in and everything from the killer tune [not those killers] If The Walls Could Talk down to She Leaves remain. Strangers remains their pitchmark connecting them to their crucial fan base in CFNY land and let it be known all Paint fans Paint will travel to all nether lands beyond only to be with you. To that end Paint will descend into the darkness of the Velvet Underground to be blood ties fodder for CMW on March 12. Coming in between is a pair of shows this week in Brampton and Kitchener and then the March 3 gig in the west end at the Drake. Noted shows in the past includes faves The Joy Formidable [along with The Joys] who are entering the Torontosphere in April. Who knows what is possible?

I can only conclude as we go into Tuesday withdrawal:

PAINT HAVE THESE SONGS THAT HAVE THIS MADDENING ABILITY TO STICK IN YOUR HEAD. THEY ARE THAT DAMN CATCHY. You try having Madonna and If The Walls Could Talk choruses and more Mandy sing-y vocals repeat in your head all day over and over. Behind Paint’s ring and chime of guitars is a rhythm and pulse that comes from the spirit of independent and imaginative rock.

 Keep your faith and conviction ye princes and princess of Paint as I walk through this wicked world. And what am I supposed to do on Tuesdays now? Watch Glee? The horror, the horror.

/… more to come

More Paint shows coming up this weekend! Brantford Friday @ Liquid Lounge, Kitchener @ Maxwell’s on Saturday, The Drake March 3, CMW @ Velvet Underground March 12, The Rivoli March 17! And more to come.

Ridonkulous! Paint at C’est What


ressed in stylish black, Paint came onstage in full roomlight.

Honing their set in preparation for the upcoming shows and the CD filled with tasty goodness Paint unleashed a go-for-broke devil may care Silver and Gold infested show.

After launching into Let Go charismatic singer Robb Johannes greeted the crowd with a cheery “We are Paint and this is week 3 of our 4 week residency at C’est What. Thanks for being here. Thanks to Sarah Smith. Big hand to Sarah. She’s one of our heroes—one of our inspirations.”

Once again the walls of C’est What tumbled down as the room reverberated with Paint’s ebullient sound and spirited delivery, searing guitars scissoring into the consciousness. Paint’s music can be an exclamation point to the world. But in its quietest moments it is introspective and haunting.

Who can turn the world on with her smile
Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all worthwhile.

Yet in counterpoint to all the proclamatory with a shout is Mandytalk, lively chit chat and banter from Paint guitarist Mandy Dunbar with the crowd breaking down the barrier between stage and band. Mandy commended the crowd for turning out for the show after endured the Valentine’s Day before, a busy “ridkonkulous” day she had to endure herself working in a fast food restaurant when she is not being a pop star.

Indeed there is the common bond and feeling all bands experience hitting the road and rehearsing and then on gig day hauling and packing gear and driving and setting up just to reach that moment of stage high that makes it all worth while, if just for one night. Such is the link between Sarah Smith and her part in the Joys who gig constantly and Paint in some form of mutual admiration society. Home is a song for all bands who go on the road. “It’s about that last stretch on the road when you’re coming home at the end of a tour.” One surefire thing you can say about both Sarah Smith and Paint is they more than leave the impression they will never shortchange their fans.

Can Paint be the next U2? Their songs are more than catchy enough, the melodies are direct, their dedication to the music and the sacrifices they make to go tour and play anywhere there is a stage, scousing through fests and showcases, they have an endearing ingenuousness about them, talking amongst the strangers after the show so that the new fans don’t remain strangers anymore, well-attuned to their radio friendly audience and an awareness of the antecedent scene and the legacy they inherit.

So talking about radio, Paint fans out there in the making get ready for the Paintcast Paint Broadcast. The Tuesday show will mark the end of a remarkable time with a remarkable group of people and all six members of the retinue— a residency reminiscent once upon a time experienced watching a band in its ascendancy called the Cowboy Junkies upstairs in the time when the Phoenix was still the Diamond—the gradual progression in the size of the crowd sitting in the room then cramming themselves onto the floor around the chairs and tables—so fans and curious alike should try to catch Paint on the rise while they can for after Tuesday aside from Canadian Music Week and a show at The Drake the band slide back into the studio routine.

One more show!

Midnight Matinee 24's Paint @ C'est What #3 - February 15, 2011 photoset Midnight Matinee 24
Paint @ C’est What #3 – February 15, 2011 photoset

Midnight Matinee 24's Sarah Smith @ C'est What - February 15, 2011 photoset
Midnight Matinee 24
Sarah Smith @ C’est What – February 15, 2011 photoset

Previous Paint reviews @ C’est What are on Midnight Matinee Photography

Mittenz photos here:

Midnight Matinee 24's Mittenz @ C'est What - February 8, 2011 photoset Midnight Matinee 24’s Mittenz @ C’est What – February 8, 2011 photoset