Let’s Just Stay Here
I associate NQ Arbuckle with the first time my grad school boyfriend came to my apartment. In his nervousness, he bonked his head on something as soon as he walked inside the door, a charming move to me that then morphed into a two-year relationship full of the NQ songs he introduced me to. After that, nothing was the same. NQ became my soundtrack for all things Toronto and all things relationship: my breakups were mourned as he sang of walking wistfully down Roncesvalles; new love seemed to shine brighter when I heard the words “I liked you right from the start” or “I don’t even notice you coughing into my coffee”. Endearing moments that are the real stuff of partnership frame his songs, and then he suddenly captures all of them in a poetic line that endures.
It may come as no surprise that I rearranged my whole week around the live album recording that happened at the Dakota on March 31. Playing to a sold-out crowd, lead singer Neville Quinlan did his usual routine of starting off nervous, and ending up gloriously happy and a little tipsy by the end. “We are recording a live album,” he told us, “But if it ends up being crappy, we won’t release it.”
The band cycled through all of their well-known tunes: “Cheap Town”, “Officer Down”, “Angels and Devils”, and new hits like “Hospitals”. The reason I love this band, aside from NQ’s lyrics, is the way that they almost career out of control in every song. They jam hard, NQ’s ecstatic expression embodying their descent into near chaos, but they’re so tight that they reel it back in just when you think it’s going to fall apart. I started out observing from the back, but the crowd at the front—couples singing all the words while they twirled in tight little love-drippy circles, middle-agers swaying with beers held high in the air, university kids spontaneously hugging each other after every song—drew me up to be with them and act just as goofy. I’ve never had such an experience. Next time NQ Arbuckle performs, get your ass to the front and feel the love.