June 20, 2012

The Smugglers live concert from Kansas City 1996

Just the other night, a kind fan of my old band The Smugglers, posted this entire concert of ours on my Facebook page. I was shocked to see it. I don’t think I’ve seen a complete set on video by my old band in over a decade, and I can’t remember seeing any shows from this far back.

1996 was a big year for The Smugglers. We were signed to Mint Records in Canada and Lookout! Records in the States. We had just released our highest selling record Selling The Sizzle. We were touring constantly and playing only all ages shows in the States, because that’s where the Lookout! Records fans were.

On this specific tour, we had already been on the road for over a month, having played across Canada, and down into New York for the CMJ Music Marathon. Then we hooked up with the Queers to tour across the States which lead us to Kansas City, a place we had already played several times.

I can’t believe how incredibly fast we’re playing these songs, how snarly I am, and how completely nonchalant we are when the power goes out.

The Smugglers in this concert video are Dave Carswell (guitar far left), me, Nick Thomas (guitar right), Beez (bass), and Graham (drums). We had already been a band for eight years at this point.

Thanks very much to Kendra K for rocketing me back to a completely different chapter in my life, one that I happen to be writing about right now!

Hope you enjoy this warp-speed 30 minute blast from the 1990s… where were YOU in 1996?

(22) Comments

  1. I think at some point in ’96, I was accidentally at a Smugglers show.

  2. Grant Lawrence says:


  3. tom says:

    In ’96 I would have been in about grade 10 or 11 and I know I had heard of the Smugglers (reading the ads in the back pages of mags like exclaim etc) but I had never gotten the chance to see you guys. Not sure if you ever made it out to the east coast? This is the era when I was definitely getting into and expanding my punk rock horizons though so this would have been right up my alley!

  4. Ken Kelley says:

    In September 1996, I would have been living in Toronto and would have actually seen the Smugglers play the Horseshoe Tavern in the weeks before this show.

    The Smugglers are/were one of the best live bands in the country, hands down. Make sure the reunion tour (if and when it happens) hits Moncton. I’d get back into show promoting, especially for you guys!

  5. Kim says:

    In 1996 I got to see the Smugglers three times. Nothing has ever been that much fun since. Reunion tour please???

  6. martyn says:

    Awesome. Now let’s look for the Smugglers at Bogies in Albany NY on beer/thursday. Now THAT would be a show.

  7. krib says:

    I was in Montreal, mostly hanging out at Irish pubs. At some point while living there I caught Another Roadside Attraction. Saw Great Big Sea play at Annie’s pub, and the Paperboys at the Old Dublin.

    I didn’t discover the Smugglers until Rosie, then you broke up. I don’t think I had anything to do with that, though

  8. Dave says:

    ’96 was just about the time I discovered the Smugglers, while was volunteering as ‘techy-butt’ at cflr, the campus radio station in Sudbury ON.

    I’m not making up the fact that they were my absolute favorite Canadian band for many, many years. All my friends can attest to that.

    (An aside: I used “Your Mom’s the Devil” to set the output level at the station, because just about every Smugglers album was compressed to an average ~98% level, perfect for setting the levels while still remaining on-air (or in our case, on cable FM).)

    I’m glad I got to see them during their last tour, in Toronto at The Horseshoe — I had no idea at the time they were about to end their great, long run.

    I still miss ’em — I don’t know if this video helps with that or not, but it’s great to see them again!

  9. Andrew ervin says:

    I was writing letters to you and the Smugglers from Northern Ireland in 1996, Sizzling the Sizzle was and is one of my favourtie albums of all time! Am glad I finally got to see you guys seveal years later in London:)

  10. I think at some point(s) in 1996 I was watching either the Smugglers or Doutang at the Townehouse Tavern in Sudbury.

  11. Grant Lawrence says:

    Thanks for all the comments! Tom, yeah we played the Canadian East Coast a few times in the 1990s… our hot bed was Moncton, as Ken can attest to above! We also would play Halifax, St. John NB, Charlottetown, and Glace Bay every couple of years.

  12. Grant Lawrence says:

    Hey Stephen, yeah we played the Townehouse in 1996 on this same tour that this video was filmed!

  13. Grant Lawrence says:

    Hey Andrew – I remember your letters well… our only fan from Northern Ireland!

  14. Grant Lawrence says:

    @Dave thanks for the kind words… glad you got to see us at the Horseshoe Tavern, pretty much our head quarters in the our later years…

  15. Kathy G says:

    When were you in SAINT John, Grant? 🙂 This video is a super cool time capsule!

  16. Bryan S says:

    Love it! I never saw the smugglers in concert, but in about ’96 I was rocking out to my Mint Records sampler cd on my brand new cd player (having just joined that new techno fad of cds). But wait, I got that cd at a concert – I wonder if it was a Smugglers show? Maybe I was at one, dang this old memory of mine sucks.

  17. Chris Morier says:

    O man, some sweet memories coming back while watching that clip! I was fortunate enough to see the Smugs a few times on Vancouver Island, including a fantastic back-to-back Nanaimo-Victoria weekend. The last few minutes of the KC show summed up the Smugglers’ live experience perfectly – you never knew what surprises they would throw at you from the stage. Can’t wait to check out the new book, Grant!

  18. Grant Lawrence says:

    hey Chris – thanks for the memories… yeah, we had some CLASSIC Victoria/Nanaimo weekends… working on the book every chance I get!

  19. James Edwards says:

    I’m a little late commenting on this one. In 1996 I was watching the Smugglers on tour with the Mr. T. Experience at the Eastwood Community Hall in Edmonton, Alberta and not long after that headlining their own show at Mickey Fins Taphouse on Whyte Ave. I think there was even an in store performance at Sam the Record Man in West Edmonton Mall around that time? So many great Mint/Lookout tours back then! Looking forward to the new book!

  20. Grant Lawrence says:

    Hi James – yep, you’re right on all those memories… we indeed played all those places in Edmonton, including Sam the Record Man in the West Edmonton Mall! Most of that was around 1996-1997.

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  22. Grant Lawrence says:

    Hey! Well… the book hasn’t been written yet. Anything specific you want to know about the show?

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