16 Canadian musical moments from 'Open Mike with Mike Bullard'

by Mark Teo

April 16, 2013






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It wouldn’t be accurate to say we enjoyed Mike Bullard, but in his six seasons on the Canadian airwaves, we did the quintessentially Canuck thing: We tolerated him. Because no, we didn’t like him, per se—his monologues, rife with lukewarm quips about Canadian politicians, awkward crowd participaction, and half-wit sports jokes, all made Bullard feel like an Etobicoke-born Jay Leno. He had solid-yet-forgettable guests like, in this episode, Susan Ormiston and Rick Bronson. (Um, who?) And his delivery and flat comedic style certainly rubbed some the wrong way, including YouTube commenter Otto Pataki, who wrote that “This show is such fucking torture! Hell I wouldn’t fucking force the Sandy Hook shooter to watch this! That would be fucking cruel!” His words, not ours.

But we don’t mean to pick on Bullard. Because, if there was anything worthwhile about his shows, it was his musical guests: Though he frequently maintained he knew nothing about the bands on his show, he pulled then-A list interviews like Coal Chamber, Judas Priest, and Sevendust. (Someone on the show evidently dug metal.) And the performers he brought in were some of Canrock’s greatest—and sifting through his show’s live archives, as we’ve done, feels like witnessing Big Shiny Tunes performed live. Don’t believe us? We’ll let the vids do the talking. (And don’t forget to check out our Jonovision Jonopalooza post for similarily sweet Canrock mems.)

Sloan—“If It Feels Good Do It”

Pretty Together was widely considered Sloan’s departure into pensive, dare-we-say grown-up territories. The perfect counterbalance to Chris Murphy and co.’s newfound maturity? Playing the album’s first single, “If It Feels Good Do It,” decked out in full animal costumes. Here’s the performance in mesmerizing .gif format.

Treble Charger—“Red”

We could’ve memorialized Treble Charger by their Open Mike performance of their late-game pop-punk hit, “American Psycho.” But we’re far better off remembering them for this sprawling rendition of “Red,” which proves that the Bill Priddle-led Treble Charger was far better before they discovered Mod Robes and Dep gel.

Hayden—“The Hazards of Sitting Beneath Palm Trees”

The Closer I Get was Hayden’s excellent—if sadly forgotten—major-label debut. At the time, most lamented the loss of the dirgier tendencies he explored in Everything I Long For, but in 2013, we recognize this as Hayden in top form: It’s all dejected, kicked-my-puppy vocals, shuffling post-punk riffage, and a surprisingly blistering jam-out at the end.

Flashing Lights—“Friends You Learn to Hate”

Geez, did the Flashing Lights play every late-’90s Canadian talk show? At this rate, we won’t be surprised to find a long-forgotten VHS of Matt Murphy and co. performing “Elevature” on The Dini Petty Show.

Scratching Post—“Fade Away”

Metalcore neophytes, pay attention: Skip to 2:24 and watch Nicole Hughes teach y’all how to drop Canadian music’s meanest one-chord breakdown.

Matthew Good Band—“Indestructible”

Good’s still a cult figure among Canrock fans, and it’s easy to see why: Dude’s all smoldering intensity, even while playing to a studio audience of precisely no one.

Tegan and Sara—“Monday Monday Monday”

“rumor [sic] has it that once they saw mike bullards [sic] ugly face they went instantly lesbian,” writes commenter mickeymantle0007. Keep it classy, YouTube.

Lowest of the Low—“For the Hand of Magdalena”

Kudos to the Bullard crew for scoring Lowest of the Low at their finest, performing the Elvis Costello-esque “For the Hand of Magdalena” from their iconic debut, Shakespeare My Butt. Also: Is Ron Hawkins wearing a Kill Rock Stars tee over a long-sleeve shirt? Best look ever.

Big Sugar—”O Canada”

If Big Sugar’s sloppy Open Mike rendition of “O Canada” was meant to be the Canadian equivalent of Jimi’s “Star Spangled Banner,” then, as a nation, we have some major, major problems. 

Not By Choice—“Now That You Are Leaving”

Not By Choice’s is basically Ajax, Ont.’s answer to Millencolin. Which, if you pause to think about it, makes them impossible to hate on.

Alexisonfire—”Pulmonary Archery”

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, there’s something powerfully nostalgic about watching Dallas Green angrily stomp around in girl jeans in front of a live studio audience. Adorable, no?

Big Wreck—“Inhale”

Big Wreck existed sometime after the Doughboys perfected Can-grunge and Nickelback snuffed it out. This performance displays the confusion central to the band’s aesthetic: It’s all double-necked guitars, soulful blues vocals, and nü-metal drop-D riffage. “That’s what I call music,” Bullard adds in this clip. Um… sure, Mike.

The Sadies—“Cheat / Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy”

While Open Mike‘s fistfuls of ’90s alt-rock bands sound painfully dated, it’s nice to see that in 1999, the Sadies’ brand of surf-twang sounded as timeless as ever.

Moxy Fruvous—”Sahara”

It’s hard to believe that, at one point, Jian Ghomeshi was on the receiving end of interviews. Watch as Jian calls half of Moxy Fruvous “not so smart,” point-blank labels Americans as “kind of stupid” and “unkempt people,” and claims he sold out a Chicago concert when “seven or eight” people showed up. It’s fair to say that his conversational abilities have come a long, long way since then. 

David Usher—“A Day in the Life”

David Usher’s blend of KY-slick boy-band vocals and latex-scented alterna-rock makes me wish I didn’t have genitals.

Tricky Woo—”Fly the Orient”

Reason 1,036 why Mike Bullard shouldn’t be allowed to interview musicians: Of all the questions he could’ve asked Tricky Woo singer Andrew Dickson—who, in 1999, just cut their seminal LP, Sometimes I Cry, and were terrorizing airwaves with their band of Budweiser commercial-ready rock ‘n’ roll—Bullard only has one burning question. That question: “Did you pay off your guitar?” We don’t get it, either.


Tags: Film + TV, Cancon, Lists, News, Alexisonfire, Big Sugar, Big Wreck, canrock, david usher, Flashing Lights, Guided By Voices, Jonovision, lowest of the low, matthew good band, Moist, moxy fruvous, Scratching Post, Sloan, Treble Charger, tricky woo






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