And if I wasn’t posting this in a place where my mother could potentially be reading this, you can guarantee the title would be MUCH MUCH more R-rated than that.
“What’s all the hub-bub, bub?” you may ask?
I’m talking about Sunday, bloody Sunday. April 5th, 2009. The Day Nickelback Roared Into Town.
“Ok, you went to a rock concert,” you may be thinking.
No, my dear friend, it goes WAAAAAY beyond all that.
You see, I’ve been a Nickelback fan since 1998. Ever since I first heard “Fly”, “Window Shopper”, and “Little Friend” from 1996’s Curb I was watching out for these guys.
Then, in 2000, The State was released, and when I heard “Breathe” and “Leader Of Men” for the first time, I knew this little band from Hannah, Alberta was really on to something. I remember vividly the very first Nickelback show I went to, at Rocktoberfest at the Winnipeg Convention center in 2000, and Nickelback was opening up for another famous band – whose name I’ve totally forgotten now because they were blown off the stage. I went to the show with my then girlfriend (now wife) and a few friends, and I couldn’t stop talking about this band and how great they were going to be.
Well, in a room of 200 people, Nickelback was on stage, playing their ASSES off like they were playing in front of 20,000 people, and here I am, losing my MIND because these guys were just too awesome. At the beginning of the set, I looked like a fool because I was one of 200 enjoying the HELL out of this show while everyone else was like “Who the hell are these guys?”
But by the time that set ended, Nickelback had blown the headlining band off the stage, and I’d gone home a very, very happy guy. My friends were all telling me how I’d found an awesome band, and Nickelback gained more than a few fans that night.
Fast forward to 2002, and after Silver Side Up was released, I got to see Nickelback in my first arena setting. They came to the Winnipeg Arena, and by the time I heard they were coming, all I could get were upper deck seats, but let me tell you, that didn’t affect anything. On their first arena tour, the band was fired up, and we were right above the stage. I must say, that it doesn’t matter if you’re 50 feet above the stage – that pyro burns just as hot! The band was amazing, and superstars had been born. The crowd was into it, and Nickelback put on one hell of a show.
On to 2004 and The Long Road tour, and the concert experience just kept getting better. Every time I have seen this band, the show just keeps getting better. From 200 people in a room to the nosebleed section, and now they’re back, and I’ve gotten my first ever floor tickets. Miraculously, we ended up right on the guard rail right smack in front of Ryan. OH MY GOD WOW. I’ve never experienced a concert from up close before, and being a Nickelback show, it was a real treat. I managed to snag Aaron Lewis’ set list as Staind had opened for Nickelback, and the night kept getting better as I got a guitar pick from Chad, and part way through the set, the band was just jamming and tossing cups of beer into the crowd. Yup, I got one.
2005 gave us All The Right Reasons and another tour, this time at the brand new MTS Center, but I didn’t think I could survive another night on the floor, so we got regular seats. The show was awesome as usual, but something was missing.
So when the band came back in 2006, still on the ATRR tour… we HAD to have floor tickets. Nothing else would ever compare. We got the floor tickets, and again, miraculously ended up against the guard rail, right between Chad and Ryan.
And then, something amazing happened.
In between songs, Chad started talking about how Daniel could chug a beer faster than anyone he knew, and had even scheduled a drinking contest between Daniel and Hal Anderson, a local rock-radio DJ. Anderson pulled out due to “back problems” so the band needed something to fill the time in – so Chad started pulling people on stage to have a big contest against Daniel. Chad starts walking along the front of the stage, and I’m waving my hand at him. My wife is jumping up and down screaming “Pick him! Pick him!” and Chad hears her. He turns and looks me right in the eye, and sizes me up – I’m a big guy, about six feet and I’ve obviously drank a few in my day by the size of my gut – and Chad screams out “YOU look like a beer drinker! GET UP HERE!”
OH MY GOD. I’m going on stage with Nickelback. I’m about to pass out.
My wife, some other fans, and security haul my ass over the guard rail, and I get escorted up to the stage. I meet the entire band, and since Daniel was the one we were drinking against, he came and introduced himself to everyone. Daniel was even kind enough to stop and talk to me for a moment. I asked him how he was doing, and he mentioned how his hand has bugging him from playing on tour so much, and he showed me a blister he was getting on his hand. I asked him about possibly wearing gloves, and he mentioned he thought of that, but then he couldn’t really feel the sticks as well in his hand if he did, so he’d tough it out. He then wished me luck in the drinking contest. Really cool guy.
So the time comes. We’re all given a Corona, and we’re told if we can drink the beer and slam it down on the stage before Daniel does, then the winner gets $1000 cash right there. There’s about 8 of us on stage, and let me tell you folks, there’s NOTHING compared to standing on a rock stage with Nickelback and 11,000 people cheering at you.
Ready, set, GO! I pound my beer, and slam it down on the stage – only a FRACTION of a second after Daniel does. OH SO CLOSE! I shake Daniel’s hand again, and we’re all escorted off the stage. WOW! I got high fives from all over the crowd on the way back to my spot. What a night!
Later on in the show, Chad announces he’s going to a local club to party after the show, and if anyone wants to come see him, we’re welcome to. So we head down to the club after, and sure enough, there’s Chad greeting fans. Once we finally made it to him, he instantly recognizes me, and yells “Hey, it’s the beer drinking guy!” and promptly buys me another beer. He signs my wife’s concert ticket, and good times were had by all!
So now, it’s 2008, and Dark Horse is released. A new tour is on the way.
You might now be wondering what this entire post is about, but I’m getting there, believe me.
It’s all about the experience. My wife and I are wondering… we’ve been at two fantastically amazing Nickelback shows and had such super experiences… how are we going to top this? Even if we buy floor tickets, we’re not guaranteed spots up against the guard rail, and we don’t just want any old seats.
What could we possibly do to make the concert experience any better?
And then the answer comes in an email.
“Join the Nickelback Fan Club and get access to pre-sales and VIP packages.”
Huh? VIP packages? Let me at it!!
Fan Club? Became a member.
So I check things out, and thanks to the corporate folks at my job who decided to give me a big bonus… VIP t-shirt, set of signed guitar picks, VIP laminate, poster, early venue entry…
… and photo opportunity with the band backstage.
Holy h-e-double hockey sticks I’ve hit the freakin’ mother load.
A couple very nervous clicks of the mouse later, and my wife and I are now Nickelback Platinum VIP’s. How are we going to make this experience any better?
Well, for starters, we’re going to be in the VIP pit inside the stage design… and we get to meet the band backstage.
It’s months before the show… then weeks, and then days… when Sunday came along, I could barely sleep the night before. We got up early. I was jumpy all morning and all afternoon leading up to the show. Triple-checked that I had all my paperwork in order – I wasn’t going to screw THIS up! Driving to the MTS Center was surreal – all I could think about was how awesome everything was going to be.
But in the back of my mind, I had this sinking fear that once we got there to pick up our packages, something was going to be wrong and the whole thing was going to be shot.
Thankfully, everything was in order, and we met Tom early on. Was very professional and cool about the whole thing. We got in line and were taken backstage just as opening act Saving Abel took the stage, and we get led down to the bowels of the MTS Center, every step taking us closer to Nickelback.
Through one set of doors we go, and then we had to wait, about 10 minutes. Heart’s beating faster now, sweating a bit. Nervous as hell.Through another set of doors, and we’re stopped right outside Nickelback’s room. There’s a big display set up, and the guys are there… the girls ahead of us go in, and then BAM… it’s our turn!
My wife and I go in, and I give the band a hearty “Hey, guys!”, and they all seem very genuinely happy to give the fans this chance. Each member of the band made sure they took time to not only say “hi”, but to shake hands and introduce themselves and ask how we were doing. My wife gets hugs from all of them. Very cool. Stephanie (the wife) then remarks to Chad and Daniel that they probably don’t remember, but the last time they were here, I was on stage with them – do you remember the “beer drinking guy?”
And rather than just brush it off, Chad turns to Daniel, and says “That was you in the drinking contests last time?” Daniel answers yes, and Chad says “It was really close, right? Like bang-bang?” And we’re all YEAH!, and Chad and Daniel are all “Awesome!” We line up for our picture… I’ve got my arm around Chad on my left, my wife on the right… SNAP. Tom says it’s a great pic, so we say goodbye to the band, and wish them a good show. Mike, Ryan, and Dan all said “goodbye”, “nice to meet you”, and Chad said “I hope you really enjoy the show. Thanks for coming.”
These guys are SO cool.
So we each pick up a signed 8×10, and another set of guitar picks, and head out to the Pit. We’re the first ones there, so we’ve literally got the best seat in the house. We’re physically right against Ryan’s side of the stage.
Seether comes on, and they played a great set with all their noteable songs. The guitarist and bassist came over to slap hands a few times, and those guys put on a special show for us. Really good stuff from Seether, although due to the stage set up, the guitarists’ amp was right beside us, and it was hard to hear the vocals at times.
After Seether was done, the security guard comes to advise us of the giant pyro and to be careful about how close we are, and that there will be a giant theatrical countdown to a giant explosion, so be ready.
Well. I’ll be damned.
Even before the countdown starts, the lights aren’t even off yet, and a sonic BOOM goes off near my head and I literally jump four feet off the ground. I’m a big guy, so lemme tell you, that ain’t easy! The lights drop and the crowd loses their minds… we get the giant countdown on the big screen, and when it reaches zero, there’s a thunderous explosion of sound and pyro that just took my breath away, and then we only had a seconds’ rest before we were ASSAULTED by the guitars of “Something In Your Mouth”, and a very-near sold-out crowd (last time was about 11,000, this time almost 14,000 showed up) lost their freaking minds. Unbelievable.
The show rocked all night long, and the band played for 2 hours and 5 minutes! There was fire and pyro EVERYWHERE – when the fire pots lit up, I pretty much had to duck to avoid getting fried. Ryan Peake was so close at points I could reach out and touch his guitar if I wanted to. Chad, Mike, and Ryan all came over by us and stood literally inches away. Nickelback ran through a ton of great music – I was so blown away I don’t remember the entire order of the set, but “Something In Your Mouth”, “Burn It To The Ground”, “Gotta Be Somebody”, “I’d Come For You”, “If Today Was Your Last Day”, and “This Afternoon” all made appearances from the new album – and during “This Afternoon”, and “Rockstar”, the band all went out to the extended walkway and played at the front of the house – where a SECOND drum kit rotated out of the walkway for Daniel to play with them!
Daniel’s drum solo was awesome, and the band also did other tunes like “Figure You Out”, “Photograph”, “Someday”, “Saving Me”, “Far Away”, “If Everyone Cared”, “Because Of You”, “How You Remind Me”, and “Too Bad” were all done awesomely. Timmy came out and did acoustic guitar on a few songs, and Ryan did lead vocals on a “Kings Of Leon” tune I didn’t catch the name of, but was very cool as well. There was also a jam session while the band had crew members fire out t-shirts to the crowd, and they nailed the opening riff of Metallica’s “Sad But True”, and I swear they played it way better than Metallica ever could.
Well, OK… that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it was pretty damned sweet.
These guys DELIVER live – Chad was SPOT.ON. with the vocals, and the band was smoking. I tell ya, Mike may not be a press hound and he seems very quiet, but the smile on his face told you for the entire show told you that there’s no place he’d rather be. Near the end of the show, they brought up Seether frontman Shaun Morgan to sing vocals on Filter’s “Hey Man Nice Shot” – VERY cool.
Funny note… while Timmy came out to play a tune… I *think* it was “If Everyone Cared”, and it was his first time out at the front of the ramp, so Chad went out there with him, and while Chad and Ryan stayed up there to play “Someday”, Mike had to come back and work Chad’s distortion pedal for the chorus – Chad had forgotten all about it – but it still came off without a hitch.
Tremendous job all around, from the band, down to the crew, and venue folks.
I doubt they’ll ever read this, but Tom, great work handling all of us star-struck fans backstage, and to Nickelback, THANK YOU for an unforgettable night of rock and roll.
Truly amazing. There are no other words for it.
So what do we do NEXT time Nickelback rolls through town?!?