B.A. Johnston Pat's Pub, Vancouver BC June 9
Published Jun 11, 2012It's easy to see the appeal of grizzled Hamilton, ON troubadour B.A. Johnston in person. He's thoroughly ridiculous. Wearing a preppy yachting outfit, complete with the captain's hat, he toured around Pat's Pub with sparklers in each hand before hitting the stage with some brutal jokes at Nanaimo's expense, then launched into "Showcase Showdown," an acoustic ode to Bob Barker-era The Price Is Right from Johnston's recent Hi Dudes! album. Johnston returned to the floor shortly thereafter for "Douchestorm," getting in people's faces, sweaty armpit first, as he asked if they could feel the date rape in the air while a cheap drum machine beat plodded on behind him. Johnston is like Zach Galifianakis if he never did The Hangover, sold his piano for a keyboard out of desperation and fully committed to his alcoholic stage persona. Johnston's voice is gravely and unstable, and his lyrics born of the age of the hipster, seething with curmudgeonly wryness and self-consciousness. As Johnston put it, his show was based on disappointments, and he thanked the crowd for their tepid response when they weren't fast enough to get it, but for the most part, everyone was in on the joke.