Nickelback And The Backstage Pass
In 2012, I had the opportunity to see and meet Nickelback. I wasn't the biggest fan, but my son was really excited to see them. He saw something I didn't, so we went. They showed themselves to be great guys. Here's the blog from that meeting:
I've been in my profession a lo-o-ng time.
I have seen my share of bands, been to more than my share of concert backstage events, and really have passed on more lately than I have accepted. After awhile, you just get kinda tired of seeing the same expressionless musicians and their expressive fans trying to find a middle ground and a great photo angle for Facebook.
I've seen all the stage tricks that Fleetwood Mac, Rush, and others tried to warn me about in songs about the relationship between artist and audience. Maybe one too many DLR Spinning-Ninja kicks to lower and lower imaginary opponents as the years stacked up. Mellencamp has all but given up trying to entertain, or even pretend to not loathe being onstage, usually letting the audience sing the songs while he hams it up with his band. For $75.00? Blood on the plow is right. Springsteen got so pissed at the audience that he just rearranged all his classics so that only he can sing all but the forced chorus (jun-------gle------annnnnnd).
And these are bands I love. Bands I'm starting to like are fucking me over too. White Stripes, All-american Rejects, Jet and a few others are pretty wasteful of the resource that is a fan base. Maybe we're broken up one day, maybe we have an album out the next. Maybe I'll go solo.
So it was with very little arm-twisting that I donated my tickets for the April 10th Nickelback Concert to an MDA fundraiser. Pretty catchy songs, sure. Jerry Cantrell loves them. My kid is a huge fan. But whatever.
Then we get an email from the venue ( 'We' being the other dopey DJ's in our cluster) saying that the guys in the band want to meet us and say thanks for helping promote the show. Could we be there at 5:30 for a meet and dinner at 6PM? Keeping in mind my expectations based on recent experiences, I say sure, and show up promptly at 5:30. Few other radio guys there ( but many more absent...maybe they too are beginning to see the strings on the puppets?) that I know and introduce my son to. We are all using our "I'm so cool I don't even care about this deal" voices, entertaining each other with can-you-top-this stories of other artists we've met. I am feeling embarrassed because my kid is watching this unfold through 13-year-old eyes, and I don't want him to becomming jaded like all of us old, very uncool guys.
So, now it's time to go "meet the guys" and we all slowly shuffle out to the designated spot (usually a hallway with a drape along one side for the picture backdrop--very intimate). I have to admit though that my son's obvious excitement is starting to rub off on me as I sensed his nerves on edge. We follow a long trail through waiting fans, some of whom I recognise and pretend to be sorry that I'm wearing a backstage pass when they shout comments like, "Must be tough..." or "Hey take me with you". If I could I would gladly change places with any of them, 'cause I know what's coming. But I am a cog in this machine, preparing my best glad-hand and praying that my son doesn't witness my utter lack of enthusiasm. Don't think there's any risk of that...he's rubbing his Nickelback CD cases together like a wet boy scout going for his fire badge. He is clearly in another world...one where his rock heroes are on the other side of a door that HE gets to walk through! I hope for his sake these guys aren't jerks.
Just then we walk into their dressing room. Not the hallway jazz I was expecting. The dressing room. Voss water...tiny mirrored ball hanging, couches, food...like a travelling man-cave. To re-cap: we were, at the request of the band, in their dressing room so that they could thank us for helping with the show. This was starting to feel different. In walk the stars of the evening. The energy in the room rises quickly to a fever pitch. All the jocks jockeying for position is quite comical. I was trying to get my son in the sights of the band. Joey sticks out his hand, "I'm Joey Dwyer--my dad is on the radio--thanks for meeting me." Chad Kroeger says, "Well, thanks for coming, I'm Chad." No shit Sherlock.
And no bullshit. These guys who are platinum in sales many times over, who could have jumped on the same train as I've seen a dozen times, the one that goes to "We don't do backstage-ville" were instead interested to hear what a 13 year-old likes about their music. I too was talking to the guys. Ryan and Daniel were listening politely as I rambled on about a certain song of theirs that pays tribute to Pantera guitarist Darrell Abbott. Ryan stops me--"You actually played that? Thanks man, that really means a lot to us. Not a lot of stations spin that one." I was floored that he was actually listening. Now, I won't be changing my status to "in a relationship" with Nickelback anytime soon, but how cool is it for a bunch of guys who like to play music together and have soared to the highest highs doing it, still reach for the effect their music has on people? I think it's because they are music fans first. I was escorted out by the guy who's job it is to escort you out, and I waited, and waited for Joey. Sure enough, he was the last one out. The band kept asking him questions, signing his CDs, laughing with him. Laughing with him? Don't they have someplace to be?
I got a nice education tonight, courtesy of a 13 year-old and the band he's crazy about. Sometimes, sometimes players don't only love you while they're playing.