A fair measure of good music is perhaps not who is illuminated onstage, but what they are able to illuminate inside their audience. The ability to see a bigger picture in the songs of a performer, instead of merely a highly embellished self-portrait, is a way pop music can become powerful art.
The Weakerthans turn the spotlights back on their fans and posit that their hang-ups and isolation are also your own. They resist the trap that many musicians fall into when buying into the myth that often comes with being amplified and on a stage: that you are fundamentally different than your audience.
The Weakerthans support an entirely different myth about music. One that says art can be about connecting with your community. Everyone is invited to share in their battle to bridge the gaps modern living puts between people. And they don't just talk poetic talk about community and reaching out to other humans, they put it into action.
A portion of the proceeds from their newest album, Left and Leaving, go to Art City, a nonprofit art center in their hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Guitarist and lead singer John Samson also helps run Arbeiter Ring, a publishing collective he co-founded that produces books addressing city problems, and a variety of leftist political issues. The other members of the band have been participants in the Winnipeg music scene for many years.
This breadth of musical experience and political outlook take an eclectic form that is punky and lyrical, poppy and addictive, with the storytelling aspects of folk music. But even if none of those are your subgenre of choice, there's an undeniable charm and inclusiveness to the humble tales The Weakerthans spin.