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Dan Mangan @ Criminal Records

October 19th, 2009


With the c-c-c-crazy amount of music floating around in the world/on the internet today (and the amount of it I listen to), you’d expect there would be a lot of good stuff out there. And there is. But rarely do I find a song so darn good that I don’t even need to put it on my mp3 player – because it gets itself stuck in my head for five hours straight.

This is surprising enough, but I really didn’t expect that it wouldn’t be a track from a NME buzz band, and instead come from a brave young indie-folk singer from Vancouver, Mr. Dan Mangan. Haven’t heard of him? Just you wait.

Dan and his three-piece band were at Criminal Records on Friday, doing an in-store performance to promote Dan’s second full-length album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice (which to me kinda sounds like a Borat-ism, but I’m saying nothin’). I expected that the set would be brief, which it was, and awesome, which it totally was, but I wasn’t really counting on how enraptured the audience would be.

First, you have to understand the from the start, the show spontaneously turned into kindergarten story time, when Criminal’s staff had the audience in the front sit on the floor so those in the back could see. While this meant I was squeezed into the most awkward position imaginable between a display of CDs and the rest of the crowd, it was also kind of awesome because I didn’t have to crane my neck to see the band over the shoulder of the tallest guy in the room.

From there, Mangan took over the tiny stage like a master storyteller. Both lyrically and musically, the crowd was entranced by his endearingly sincere tunes about music, loss, separation, and the most upbeat song about selling out you’ll ever hear. As he says in “You Silly Git”, “I can hear the eyebrows raise when I start singing/ ‘cause the songs I sing are all about myself”. If any eyebrows were raising that day, it was only after the applause had finished.

But Mangan’s set was incredibly light-hearted, despite all of these moody themes. He interrupted himself to add some lyrics about music stores to “The Indie Queens are Waiting”, and then forgot the words to the rest of the verse, and had to ad lib. He also entertained the crowd with anecdotes about living on three hours of sleep, and his excitement about getting to have roti for dinner after the show.

Finally, for set closer “Robots”, various percussion items (including a pair of nunchucks) were handed out to the crowd, who enthusiastically sang along (even with harmonies! according to Dan) to the tune’s adorable closing chorus. I could not feel my legs, but even this jaded music reviewer joined in with the rest of them to bring the set to a rousing finish that, yes, would be stuck in my head for the rest of the night.
But I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

You can also check out the whole album HERE.

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