Though we try to be as open-minded and accepting as possible when it comes to the music we critique, we at Bucketlist do not lack the self-awareness to understand that our usual fare is heavy, guitar-oriented, and loud. I myself am always looking for new ways to test my journalistic mettle, and Bif Naked’s tour supporting her memoir “I, Bificus” (not to be confused with her album of the same name) seemed like the perfect opportunity to stretch my boundaries as a listener and a writer. That was a fancy way of saying that I liked her in the 90s and I’ve been curious to see where she’s at today.
Walking into Montreal’s Petit Campus and being met with theater-styled seats and tables was jarring, especially considering that a mere week prior I was here for Slaves on Dope‘s album launch, a decidedly anti-seating event. The room felt somehow smaller than it usually does. For the most part, the crowd was made up of those in the middle-age range. You know, people who read books. The sound system was exclusively blasting Queens of the Stone Age, which seemed like an odd juxtaposition, but whatever, I’m not complaining.
Jordan Alexander took the stage sporting ripped black jeans and a blue Mohawk. Her bubbly personality was perfectly suited for an event like this. She apologized for not speaking French, only to be met by an almost exclusively English crowd. Phew! Her smooth voice made for a calm and soothing performance. Each song was prefaced with a moderately detailed explanation as to the subject matter. “Love and Alcohol” is about the things we need as thinking animals…such as love and alcohol. “Need your Love” is about someone falling out of love with you. Covers of Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” and Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” were met with rapturous applause. The highlight, though, was when she played her debut single “Take Me Out Tonight“, the video which features her real grandmother doing very un-grandmotherly things. When you get an audience to react to you with cheers of “Grandma! Grandma!”, you’re doing well.
Bif Naked’s lyrics have always been highly autobiographical, so it should come as little surprise that she made the leap from lyricist to author. She took the stage with current husband Snake (yup) playing the acoustic guitar. Throughout the show, the couple’s rapport was genuinely fun to watch. A story about how he had almost burned the house down with candles the night he asked her to marry him was almost too cute. She spoke candidly about her past and the experiences that have brought her to where she is. It should also come as little surprise that each passage she read from her book corresponded with a previoulsy written song that featured similar subject matter. The format of the evening generally went from anecdote, to passage, to song. A story about her father’s second marriage was followed by the song “Daddy’s Getting Married.” A story about a former call girl turned social worker with a university degree was followed by “Never Alone” about that same girl. I’ve been told that book tours are largely interactive experiences, although only one member of the audience had any sort of real back and forth with the speaker. I won’t say his name, but his name is Steve. She spoke briefly about her battle with breast cancer, though she made it clear that this in no way defined her and was not an overarching theme in her book. She then dedicated the song “Lucky” to nurses and hospital staff around the world. She ended the performance with a few choice hits including “Spaceman” and “I Love Myself Today,” and then proceeded to stand at the merch table and receive the eager fans ready to meet her and to have their copies of various Bif paraphernalia signed; the line was huge. All in all, this was not the adrenaline rush I’m used to from a rock show, but it was definitely a heartwarming experience and a rare glimpse into the life of one of Canada’s most treasured performers.
Written by Syd Ghan
Photography by Angie Radczenko
*edited by Kate Erickson