by Joel Smart (Sports Editor)
I am briefly cognisant of my clear view of sweaty body hair, as he skids past me on his knees, sliding across the beer-drenched floor of the Airfare Lounge in downtown Abbotsford. His seemingly endless microphone cord trails behind him, also glistening with freshly-spilled beer. B.A. Johnston came to perform on this rainy Sunday night, and he was welcomed loudly by the raucous patrons who came to witness the spectacle.
Part Flight of the Concords, part Chris Farley, Johnston was an unapologetic showman, and managed to stay on tune as he climbed on tables, slid down railings and even leapt about five feet down from a precarious ledge in the bar, clearing the heads of a group of people and their table in the process. What?!
His material was equally as absurdly entertaining. He sang about his days of stealing T-bone steaks when he worked as a grocery store clerk, the deep fryer he keeps in his bedroom and the 23-year-old emo kid who stole his girlfriend at Warp Tour. Though he began the night in a smart looking suit, it wasn’t long before he was in nothing but his pants. As for that Warp Tour song, he sang it in the women’s bathroom. Everyone in the entire establishment actually got up and followed him into the women’s bathroom to hear him belt off his final song.
Johnston, from Hamilton, Ontario, was the final act of CiVL Stage Four, organized by Larry Portelance, on October 24. In its fourth iteration, the concert series changed locations to the Airfare from its previous location at Casey’s on Campus.
Things got underway at 9:30 when local favourite Fraser MacLean took the stage in a solo act that foreshadowed the singing comedy style of Johnston. He sat with a small toy keyboard on his lap that he had found at Value Village for four dollars. He started with his own rendition of “Work It” by Missy. He had people laughing, but his next song “Attractive Cousin” was when things really got funny. He prefaced his next song by dedicating it to everyone in the audience, “The Fastest Sperm,” which seemed to only make one or two people in attendance uncomfortable.
The No Regretzkys, a local band with two female lead singers, came on second, led by Jason Nicholas. The brand-new band had a shaky start but finished with promise. Though they came across unpolished, it was to be expected in their first public performance as a group. They had some fun songs, though, and finished with a comedic number about docking that had people chuckling.
Third to go on were the Magnificent Sevens, a Winnipeg Bluegrass/Roots band that played an incredible set. It was apparent that things were going to be either really bad or really good when one of the band members, Ida Sawabe, took the stage with an enormous stand-up bass. The all-string band also featured two acoustic guitars and a banjo. The vocal talent was exceptional between them, but perhaps TJ Blair best exemplified the skill of the band in his heartfelt performance of “This City.” Of course, at the Airfare Lounge, it was probably “Whiskey Song,” complete with a mid-song shot of whiskey, that really got everyone into the moment.
It was a night of diverse, unexpected, uniquely entertaining moments that no one who attended will soon forget. The only real downside of the night was that with four musical acts playing, none of the sets were long enough!