Constantines – Constantines
Released June 5th, 2001 on Three Gut Records
The finest rock ‘n’ roll hour of Guelph, Ontario, Constantines took the art-punk fury of Fugazi and married it to the alarm-clock factory worker aesthetic of Bruce Springsteen long before it became fashionable in indie rock circles. Before this record the band did the circuit of Ontario cities, going from their home in Guelph to London to Toronto; by the time they made it to Hogtown they were getting play on campus radio stations and getting some whispers down in the States as well. Their subsequent albums, including the critically acclaimed Shine A Light that my friend Jonas plays sax on, would be distributed in the U.S. by Sub Pop, who were once again becoming tastemakers in the American indie scene. This album was re-released by Sub Pop in 2004 but I saw them perform it long before that. It was the summer or fall of 2002; either way it was at the Ford Plant in Brantford right around the time it first opened. They headlined the night but the Vermicious Knid I think also played (it was my third time seeing them) and probably also Kitchener’s The Sour Keys, another great live band from the era. The great part about the Ford Plant was the intimacy; it had easily the smallest performance space of any place I’ve ever seen a band, and you kind of crowded in around the band, who played in the center. Arcade Fire played there too, when they were touring behind their first EP. You would just go shoulder to shoulder and shout along with the band, who were maybe three feet in front of you.
I had so many of these songs in my regular playlists at the time; “Hyacinth Blues” still has the power to get me up out of my seat yelling. They would go on to peak and then disappear nearly as quickly as they came; their last album, the great Kensington Heights, came out on Arts & Crafts thirteen years ago. They’ve played shows since then (the last in 2017) but there’s been no more music. It makes remembering the albums they did put out all the more important; Constantines is more than just a heartfelt indie record, it’s a touchstone of a certain time and a place that has long since moved on, never to come again.