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L.A. Beat

B.A Johnston brings back the debauchery and the laughs

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How do you describe a B.A. Johnston show for those who have never seen one?  CKXU program director Mike D summarized it by saying  “ His audience is 80 per people who have seen him before and know all the jokes and songs and 20 per cent who have no idea what they’re in for.” I always know I’m in for a good time and that the rest of the week is going to be a lot better after seeing B.A. on A Tuesday night in Lethbridge, where he always brings a good sized crowd. I always  enjoy watching the people who have no idea what they’re in for.

B.A. Johnston at the Owl Acoustic Lounge, June 7. Photo by Richard Amery


 I was in the former  category at the pride of Hamilton’s Tuesday, June 7 show at the Owl Acoustic Lounge. I’ve seen him numerous times and wrote a lot about Johnston so he even got me to sing a solo in crowd favourite “Deep Fryer in my Bedroom,” after he got one half of the audience to sing it, then the other.

 Sparklers in hand, he trotted through the crowd and eventually on to the the stage, cracked a lot of jokes at Medicine Hat’s expense. Of course,  everybody laughed, knowing he’d tell the same jokes about Lethbridge when playing Medicine Hat.


It was pretty much the same show as always, he even cackled that he wished he spent more of the pandemic writing new material. 


As always, wielding a masters of ceremonies stick, he jumped on a chair on stage and stripped off layers of identical “What Are you Looking At Dickhead shirts, but , for something different, one of his shirts had a picture of Charlie Sheen on it, though I couldn’t read what it said, as he stripped it off too fast to reveal another  “ What Are You looking at Dickhead” shirt.


“I’ll bet you thought that would be the same,” he chortled, as he stepped off the stage and wandered through the audience again as people grinned and tried to avoid being tripped up by his microphone cord.


He didn’t do a rock star leap like he usually does, but Johnston leaped all over the room like a deranged leprechaun with mischief twinkling from his eyes, as he grabbed peoples ’ beer and helped them  chug it, teased them  about their beards  and ages.


“ Here’s the drunkest 14-year-old,” he chuckled to one, then “here’s the second drunkest 14-year-old” to another.


 Musically he’s fair to middling, but his hilarity is off the charts.  A  B.A. Johnston show is all about his weird, self deprecating weird humour anyway.


 He began his show with one of my favourites “A Day off is a Day off,” and plowed through  solid and manic set  of  crowd favourites, like “ I Want to Drink in a Bar Filled with Aliens,” the aforementioned  “ Deep Frier in my Bedroom,” “GST Cheques,” “Jesus Christ Lives in Hamilton” and McDonald’s Coupon Day.”


 He hammered on his beat to crap acoustic guitar, dashed to his  Discman spinning cheesy synth rhythms and sneered at it  when he wasn’t playing his own on  keyboard with his fingers and with his nose.


B.A. Johnston borrows a lampshade at the Owl Acoustic lounge, June 7. Photo by Richard Amery

 He wandered through the audience, rolled on the now beer soaked floor, jumped on tables, then the bar, then had bartender Brae chug a bottle of something, before, shotgunning a can of Pil and crushing the can of against his head before rolling on the floor again and back on stage.


This time he removed one of the lampshades from the Owl]s stage side lamps, and put the shade on his head as he took yet another turn through the audience, before removing it and putting back on the lamp. 


He has an excellent new album out “Werewolves of London , Ontario,” but only played “ Only 2 Things I Wanna Do (Doritos n U)” from it by which time he was shirtless and dressed only in spandex pants.


  He more or less ended with a newer crowd favourite “ We’re All Going to Jail (Except For Pete, He’s Gonna Die), before leading the audience into the ladies washroom for one more.

 It’s either that or he leads them outside, either way it’s a good time.


  I missed Foster Dollis’ opening set and caught the end of  Peace For Bombs’ set of new wave inspired alternative indie rock, who included most of local band Open Channels.

— BY Richard Amery, L.A. Beat editor

Last Updated ( Thursday, 09 June 2022 16:41 )  
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