The Cat EmpireWe saw the Cat Empire at this past weekend.

Every time I go to the Starlite Room for a show in downtown Edmonton I’m always mildly irritated by the curious membership program. Basically, I must buy a membership to the venue before I’m allowed to enter the building. What’s the benefit of paying an extra five dollars to get into a concert I’ve already paid for? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. As far as I can tell I’ve paid for the privilege of carrying a piece of paper around all year I might use once or twice.

The Starlite Room’s website claims the bar is a “member’s only club.” Wow, a members only club that anyone can join for five bucks, that’s shittier than the clubhouse Jeremy and I built out of cardboard when we were 10 years old. Actually, our clubhouse had pillows to sit on instead of uncomfortable wood benches, so advantage cardboard fort.

Outside the Starlite employees are hocking memberships in the cold. Theses young women are as unhappy to sell you a membership as you are to buy it, making the whole ordeal an extremely satisfying customer experience. If you can’t tell, that last bit was sarcastic. “Fuck the Starlite Room” would be the non-sarcastic interpretation.

Now that I’ve been cheated out of five dollars it’s time for the show! Oh, good. Time to stand on the steep inclining floor in front of the stage for three hours. And what’s that I hear overpowering the band currently on stage? Why, it’s the bass from the bar downstairs. What a treat! Two bands for the price of one!

For all its faults, and there are many, I have seen a couple really good shows at the Starlite. I watched Said the Whale cave the roof in on the place and the Handsome Furs set the record for hipsters dancing on a slanty floor.

After watching a nice set by Tinpan Orange, the Cat Empire jumped on stage. I’m known for going into shows blind. I had not heard of the Cat Empire before being invited to tag along to this show and while I certainly recognize their talent, their set had serious problems.

My main complaint centers around the multiple instrument solos. I’m not oppose to solos, but when they last five minutes each the appeal is lost. Also, some instruments are not made to solo. Take the turntable, for instance.  Five minutes of scratch-scritch-scribbb-scru-scru-scru-scratch-scra-scratch-scartch-scru-scru-scratch-scritch-scribbb-scru-scru-scru-scratch-scra-scratch-scartch-scru-scru-scratch-scritch-scribbb-scru-scru-scru-scratch-scra-scratch-scartch-scru-scru-scratch-scritch-scribbb-scru-scru-scru-scratch-scra-scratch-scartch-scru-scru-scratch-scritch-scribbb-scru-scru-scru-scratch-scra-scratch-scartch-scru-scru-scratch-scritch-scribbb-scru-scru-scru-scratch-scra-scratch-scartch-scru-scru gets completely exhausting. I watched the DJ spin the crowd to sleep, waking up only when he had stopped and the rest of the band started up again.

The turntable solo was preceeded by a violin solo, a trumpet solo and then followed by a drum solo.


[UPDATED 04/13/12] In fairness to The Starlite Room, Adam Sndier and Dean Welsh point out in the comments that memberships are in place as a means of getting around some odd zoning restrictions. That doesn’t change how much I hate them, but at least there is a reason behind the memberships that isn’t just a douchey money grab.