Real Live Action

B.A. Johnston

with NEEDLES//PINS, and Babysitter
October 4 @ The Astoria

by Nathan Pike

B.A. Johnston is partly responsible for the ache in my head and the sketchy memory of last night’s show. To be fair, this is just part of the deal when Hamilton, Ontario’s favourite son drives his mom’s minivan into town with a new album to promote and a few new bad sweaters to shed.

The Astoria played host to B.A. Johnston’s antics this time around and it seemed to work out well for him. I unfortunately missed the opening act Babysitter, but when I arrived the place was encouragingly teeming with an amped-up crowd. It wasn’t long before Johnston hit the stage.

Favouring material from his just released ninth album, Mission Accomplished, the chubby lovable song-and-dance man was in top form and had the crowd in the palm of his clammy hand. When the man spoke, the entire audience responded. When he told a crappy joke, they happily forgave him.

Johnston was already half in the bag when he ambled onto the stage. Pulling out his trusted “iPad touch MP3 player with all the latest apps” (actually, an old discman) Johnston opened with “Deep Fryer in my Bedroom,” giving it that special well-lubricated touch that he’s loved for. From there it was a dizzying run through a set that made everyone happy, especially when he pulled out “Douchestorm” and “GST Cheque,” both torn into with a beer-soaked vengeance.

Of course, no B.A. Johnston show is complete without a bathroom encore. For the uninitiated, this is where the entire crowd packs into the guys or girls can while Johnston stands on the sink and belts out a couple of guitar ditties. These are usually the haziest parts of the show for all involved but also the most fun. It’s what everyone is waiting for before being vomited out the front doors and into the night.

B.A. Johnston definitely has a shtick that he sticks to and it doesn’t necessarily change from show to show, but that isn’t to his detriment because he’s just so damn entertaining. There’s something oddly endearing about an overweight skid getting hammered on the countless drinks bought for him by fans, singing songs about hot dogs, paltry GST cheques, and fanboy crushes on ‘80s TV starlets. The themes are simple but relatable. This slacker everyman performer has a talent for making music that you can’t help but kind of fall for, and apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.