SameDiff BNL

Naked Truth: Slackers Get Up In Time To Rock

By DAVID LINDQUIST, Indianapolis Star, December 5th, 2000.

It's kind of amazing that Canada's Barenaked Ladies have made it as far as they have.

The five-man rock band, now fully graduated to arena-rock status after years of being showered with geek love, is a slacker outfit at heart.

Vocalist Steven Page can't pull himself out of bed when paying tribute to Beach Boy genius Brian Wilson.

The group's current hit, Pinch Me, revolves completely around sleep.

Never Do Anything, another track from new album Maroon, is the shiftless-yet-boastful masterpiece within this "whatever" ouvre.

The truth, of course, is that the Barenaked Ladies have worked extremely hard to get where they were Monday night — on stage at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Through the years they've escaped the pigeonhole of being too eccentric and smashed any stereotype of being a novelty act. Still, they seemed a little surprised that 8,700 people showed up.

An inventive stage set — dominated by an inflated abstract head — was up to arena standards. And four video screens helped audience members feel close to the action.

If there were disappointments, the trademark banter between Page and Robertson wasn't as snappy as the gags of previous tours.

At the same time, some duds are part of the improvisation bargain.

The most entertaining bit was a video replay of Page taking a header during a weekend performance in Buffalo. He relished the role of fallible rock star by sketching out a new tune, Mr. Wipeout.

In other instances, things that were once refreshingly amusing are now just part of life.

For instance, the Ladies' tour itinerary always seems to include a day off in Indianapolis.

So, of course, Robertson filled his Sunday with shopping at Circle Centre mall and "Disney on Ice" at the fieldhouse.

It was no surprise to hear that Page knows that the Red Garter is a local strip club.

It's readily apparent these jesters have dark thoughts and even a bit of self-loathing (see stalker anthem The Old Apartment).

New song Falling for the First Time, a bittersweet gem from Robertson, points out that anything easy has its cost, and anything loved can be lost.

Page's Conventioneers illuminates the long-term pain that often follows short-term pleasure.

One of the night's most enjoyable numbers — It's All Been Done from 1998's Stunt album — apologizes for "the same three chords."

The good news is that Page and Robertson ride them to pop ecstasy.

During a now-rote medley of other artists' big hits, the band lampooned Eminem, DMX, Biz Markie, Blackstreet, 'N Sync, Kid Rock, Celine Dion, Madonna, Baha Men and the Bloodhound Gang.

In these segmented times, certainly there's room for the Barenaked Ladies' brand of arena rock.