Rich Aucoin by Mike Heffernan

Photo by Mike Heffernan; Rich Aucoin at The Rockhouse Oct. 2014

Confetti, movie clip projections, and a giant Goddamn parachute for the crowd to dance under for a song or two. Rich’s rich performances raise the bar for what a live show is and is supposed to do.

You pay money to see a musician perform, and Aucoin makes damn sure you get your money’s worth … along with a few hazy memories as a takeaway, like who you were with when the parachute came out and made a big bar  feel a whole lot more intimate and interactive for a few songs.

The best track on his new album is called “Are You Experiencing?” and that’s the mantra for his shows — are you experiencing this music, this moment, this show?

The stage was alive with well timed confetti blasts, light shows, and non-stop projections, making the stage itself — not just the musicians — hard to keep your eyes off, and the music harder not to feel. At one point, there was an impressive montage of classic movie clips that nailed home the sentiment of Aucoin’s performances: life is lived in moments, love this moment.

The songs during his performance are strung together so that it’s an actual show, a production, not just some guy playing the songs on his albums one by one, but an elaborate, engaging experience that involves the crowd, and appeals to all the senses, touch included, because how often are you picking confetti off your shoulder or holding a parachute in your hands?

Mighty Pop quoted an article from Eye Magazine in promoting this show, “If you haven’t seen Rich Aucoin in concert you’re simply not having as much fun as you should be.” It’s a  simple statement because the truest things in life are simple. Rich Aucoin puts off a show like he’s scared of the crowd being bored for even a second. He is himself having as much fun as the audience, to the point that he spends a considerable portion of the set in the crowd, and the stage is so alive with lights, video clips, and sounds it doesn’t need a performer up there to entertain us.

Some people don’t like a dance club or a live show because you can’t have a conversation with the people you’re out with. Aucoin reminds us that if you want to pause to talk during a show, the performer is doing something wrong. This man doesn’t want your attention to wane for a second. There was no talking here. Just the wild and blissful care free energy captured in the photo above.

Typically photographers take photos of a musician on stage, because the stage is the focus, it’s where the action is. It says a damn lot that it was the stage crawling with photographers taking photos of the audience Saturday night, because that’s where the action was: the audience was a collective performing artist. Rich wasn’t on stage in the photo above because this show wasn’t about him, it was about the experience for the crowd. Something many bands could learn from — “Here we are now, entertain us,” or someone else will.

It’s one thing to like a band’s album, but if they’re charging us to come and see them live, they better make it worth it, and Rich is more than up for that task. In fact he seems outright excited to party with the cities he’s visiting, and that’s what Saturday night was — a party. Not 100+ people staring at a stage, but a 100+ people partying.

If there was a university course on how to be an unmissable touring act, a Rich Aucoin show would undoubtedly be a requisite field trip with much to study and learn from. You don’t even need to know and love the man’s music, because a Rich Aucoin show is about something bigger than the songs. It’s a night of entertainment that knocks the weight of the workweek off your shoulders. And it’s worth every miserable bit of the hangover you’ll harbour the next morning.

Here’s what it all looked like, for those who missed it: