The end of an era – Goodbye Rheos

About 2 weeks ago I was driving along with the radio tuned to CBC, listening to an awesome cover of Everybody Knows this is Nowhere. Now that tune has always been a favourite Canadian classic, and from the voice singing the harmonies, even before the announcer came back on, I knew right away it was the Rheostatics, one of my all time favourite Canadian acts (as it turned out, accompanying another old time favourite, The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir). I had it cranked all the way up, and as the song ended the announcer came on to say we’d be hearing lots more Rheostatics leading up to their final concert, March 30, at Massey Hall.

I was gutshot, almost drove off the road. I mean, it’s not necessarily a surprise when I thought about it, they are all a couple of years older than me, all have families now, and have been making music and touring for over 20 years now. But it broke my heart – they were a young band with a cult album when I first started to go see them at shows in London, Ontario during my undergrad days, and I’ve probably seen them 8 times over the years. Each show was magic; the Rheostatics are one of those bands that, while they might not have the hugest fan base, have an extremely dedicated one, and live shows were like a communion. I will really miss them.

For your listening pleasure, if you’ve never heard them, a few excerpts of some of my favourite Rheos’ tunes

7 thoughts on “The end of an era – Goodbye Rheos”

  1. I moved from Vancouver in 89 and only planned to stay in Toronto for a summer job. I remember the first time listening to fm102 and my first Now paper and a friend Sean singing a Rheostatics song in a Bidini impression voice. I took my wife to the last concert last night and the CBC said it will be on the T.V. April 7th? I think that is what I heard…Wonderful show and I only wish the sound was better (I couldn’t hear the bass guitar most of the show…

  2. Glad to hear that the show will be televised. I’ll have to find me a TV with better reception (or hope the great God BitTorrent comes through.)

    Nice eulogy, I’ll probably have to write one of my own.

    I found out about their demise yesterday, when for some reason I had the random urge to check out their website and see what they were up to. So, like you it was a shock, like losing a friend.

    They had a totally unique sound, and embodied the Canada I wish I lived in.

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen the Rheos over the past 16 years — my best guess is a fifteen to twenty times in eight cities. The first time was at Amigo’s in Saskatoon on the Melville tour (they had a hot video on MuchMusic for Record Body Count, I more or less wandered in unknowing). It was last year sometime we saw them for what turns out to be the final time, again in a small club, this time in Vancouver. Sad, as we all remarked the Rheos seemed more relaxed and to be having more fun than ever, and it seemed certain we would get to grow old (or at least older) with these wonderful guys. The site seems to leave the door open for continuing in some form, it seems clear that Vesley is leaving, but if Martin and Dave keep playing together, I’ll keep showing up.

    We’ll have to get deep into a stack of Rheos discs (no Green Sprouts vinyl in my collection — gasp) next time we get together Scott, whether it’s on my turf or yours.

  3. I only wish! No, I am going to have to experience the final show through the gift of the recordings and videos on your site. Speaking of which… I just tried the video and got 404s on all of them. Boo hoo.

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