Placebo – April 28, 2001

Placebo Autographed Memorabilia

I was pretty new into the concert scene at this point in time. This would be my fourth concert at the age of 16. Not having a vehicle or license was certainly an obstacle to work around, but my friends and I were able to manage even if it involved piling four of us into the backseat of a car. I would say that this is when the live music scene really began to take its grasp on me.

This had been the only show that I had ever hit up at Oliver’s down in Ottawa and luckily for us, it was an all ages show and we were able to get in. I remember getting there pretty early and being some of the first few people in the lineup. We were all about showing up early during our younger years to make sure we had our spot on the rail, front and center. The club was small, and the security decided to let anyone who wouldn’t be drinking in first, score!

This was only my second time pulling off being front and center for a show and I was feeling it by the end of the night. The pressure from the crowd swaying back and forth to the music combined with the small venue had us sweating all over one another in no time. Lack of water with all of that heat up front was a recipe for disaster. You do all you can to hang on to secure your place while the dozens of other rail-hungry lunatics behind you continuously try to wedge themselves between you and the person next to you.

Photo: Dana Yavin

I wasn’t too familiar with Placebo at the time of the show. I had heard their singles on the radio, Pure Morning and Every You Every Me, and that was as far as I had gone with them. Remember these were the days before the internet began to really take off. We didn’t have access to every single song by anyone you could ever imagine, not to mention we were enduring the days of dial-up internet access! Unsure of what I was getting into with them, I didn’t have many expectations.

After experiencing their live show, they turned me into a fan that night. I have always enjoyed their music since, no matter what they’ve released. From their opening tracks Haemoglobin and Days Before You Came off of their recently released Black Market Music, to their classics from 1998’s Without You I’m Nothing, each and every song they played was full of pure emotion and energy. You could feel that emotional and spiritual connection in the air between the crowd and members of the band that night.

I made it to the encore and wanted to tough it out so badly but unfortunately it got to the point where I needed to get out of the crowd and rehydrate or I was going to either throw up or pass out. I struggled to make my way over to the edge of the rail and work my way to the bathroom. I had to pause and lean up against the wall to regain focus, my vision blurry and vertigo setting in. I realized that I needed to smarten up if I planned on attempting something like this again. I looked on from the side as they finished the night off, feeling as though I had just escaped tragedy. Finishing off their set with a five song encore led me to believe that they had enjoyed the energy we brought out for them that Saturday night in Ottawa. My appreciation for them as musicians had blossomed and would only continue to do so.

Placebo Ticket Stub

A few bottles of water later I started to regain my composure. We checked out the merch booth and picked up a few things to support the band. Waiting around for our ride home we had noticed that the members of the band decided to come out to the bar side of the venue to chat it up with a few of the fans. Trying not to act like complete fanboys we were able to approach them and they were nice enough to amuse us even if just for a few minutes. To see how big they were making it in the UK, and to act as humble as they did with us was simply remarkable. Something you always hope to see from those who end up living their lives in the limelight, I know I will never forget them for it.

Everclear – February 3, 2001

Nickelback Live @ Ottawa Congress Centre, Ottawa, ON

Flashback to 2001 for my second concert ever. Now I know going from the Misfits for a first show, to an Everclear/Nickelback concert as a second doesn’t really speak to many, but keep in mind Nickelback weren’t quite as popular as they are these days. Long before they were schmoozing it up with the Canadian Prime Minister, and before they had even dropped Silver Side Up (which had launched them into international stardom), we were lucky enough to catch them before their egos got too big for their shoulders.

We had heard that Everclear were making their way through the nation’s capital with Nickelback as the supporting act. I was into Everclear at the time, a bit more than Nickelback, and it sounded like it would be a half-decent concert so we decided to check it out. We were still in high school at the time, and the show had landed on a Saturday night so everything worked out for us getting down to it. Seeing as how we were only fifteen at the time, and none of us had our licenses yet, a few of us piled into the back of one of our parent’s vehicles and had them chauffeur us into the city. The Congress Centre in Ottawa was hosting the gig for the evening. With the capacity of a few thousand people (standing room only), it was definitely a step up from my first show at Barrymore’s, which provided us with a small club atmosphere with only a few hundred people.

We made it into the city and found our place in line outside of the venue waiting for the doors to open. There was still a bit of snow on the ground yet, and the temperature definitely dropped as the sun went down, so we were anxiously awaiting for them to start letting us in so we could at least begin to warm up. The big, burly bouncer finally opened the gates and the flood of fans rushed the stage to try to lock down the best view possible. We were about two dozen or so people back in the lineup, so we didn’t end up quite at front row but we were only feet away from the stage.

Everclear Live @ Ottawa Congress Centre, Ottawa, ON

Nickelback were out on the road supporting their second album The State, opening up for Everclear on their Songs From an American Movie Volume 1 & 2 Tour. They came out looking to try to win over a few more fans in the crowd that night. Since releasing a few singles in late 2000, we had been starting to hear them on the radio more and more. They had a tonne of energy up on the stage, and not much besides a few lights to go along with their stage production. They played most of their latest album, including those singles we had been hearing so much of lately; Worthy to Say, Breathe, Old Enough, and Leader of Men. To look back on their performance, it was nice to have been able to catch them before they started to become far too popular.

Everclear made their way up on stage not long after Nickelback had their roadies clear out their gear. I will admit that I hadn’t been keeping up on Everclear since their 1997 So Much for the Afterglow release, and wasn’t too familiar with their latest two-part album from 2000, Songs from an American Movie Volume 1 & 2, other than whatever singles were on the radio of course. Everclear fired their set up with the opening title track off of Volume 1 and quickly busted right into So Much for the Afterglow. By the time this song wrapped up I was enjoying their set quite a bit. I had listened to that album so much growing up and I couldn’t believe that I was actually seeing these guys live. Next up was one of their latest singles,When It All Goes Wrong Again, before they headed way back to their debut album from 1993, World of Noise for Your Genius Hands. We were getting pushed and shoved around pretty good in the middle of the mob of people. I think this was the show that really led me to do whatever I could to try to secure my placement up on the rail if I felt the need to try to get up close, and help avoid the constant pushing and shoving from every angle. There isn’t much you can do but just go with the flow and hope that the crowd is able to keep you up on your feet.

Everclear Ticket Stub

I had been looking forward to the Sparkle & Fade and So Much for the Afterglow material the most throughout the night, and they surely didn’t disappoint with delivering plenty songs from those two albums. Mixed in with some of the newer songs were Electra Made Me Blind, Everything to Everyone, Strawberry, Summerland, I Will Buy You a New Life, and the classic Santa Monica, which wrapped up their regular set for the night. At one point throughout the show, Art Alexakis had to stop the show and curse out a member of the audience for throwing pennies up on stage at him while he was playing his acoustic. I thought it was pretty hilarious at the time, and Art did not look impressed at all. I was surprised they decided to come out for an encore at the end of the night. Misery Whip, Father of Mine, and Heroin Girl was the three song encore that finished up their twenty-one song setlist in Ottawa. For my second show at fifteen years old, it certainly helped create a bit of an addiction to concerts. Thankfully the wait wouldn’t be long, as only a couple of months later, after my sixteenth birthday, I was be able to get out to see some more live music.

The Misfits – October 19, 2000 & October 15, 2015

Misfits Autographed Memorabilia from 2000
Misfits Autographed Memorabilia from 2000

Fifteen years of concert going had all started here, at Barrymore’s in Ottawa with the legends of punk themselves, the Misfits. Little did I know that almost fifteen years to the date, I would be able to catch them out on the road still plugging away, with obvious lineup changes of course. There have been plenty of changes throughout the years for this band. We were lucky to catch them back in 2000 with Doyle on guitar, Jerry Only holding it down on bass and Dr. Chud on drums. Unfortunately Michale Graves wasn’t able to make it out to that short Canadian run of five dates throughout their Famous Monsters Tour and Zoli was brought along to fill in on vocals. This lineup which had originally reformed the band in ’95 after their ten year hiatus, had decided to call it quits the week after this very show, as Graves and Chud walked off stage mid-show in Orlando, Florida due to tension between the members. This left Jerry Only to continue on with the legacy, even picking up vocal duties himself.

I was fifteen years old at the time of my very first show and I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into. A few of us had managed to convince one of our parents to take us down to the city on a Thursday night. The doors opened surprisingly early at 6:00pm so we had to make our way down right after school had finished up for the day. We were all pretty excited to be hitting up the show. I couldn’t believe that I was finally going to see some live music out on my own, and luckily for us it was an all ages show. We arrived to Barrymore’s pretty early and ended up near the front of the line waiting for the doors to open up. I wasn’t sure if I was shaking due to the anticipation, or the simple fact I had only wore a t-shirt out in the fall evening. We had been listening to Famous Monsters and American Psycho to get ourselves prepared for the night of horror that was to come, it was a perfect October gig!

Misfits Ticket Stub

The doors had finally opened up and we were let in to find ourselves a place to warm up. It wasn’t long before the opening acts had made their way to the stage to get everyone moving. Speedealer and Guy Smiley, a Winnipeg-based Canadian punk band who had been making a name for themselves since 1992 were slotted in for the openers. Guy Smiley had us fired up and we were ready for the Misfits! Looking around the venue I was feeling a bit out of place with all of the harder looking punks. One big burly dude with a studded Dead Kennedys jacket, plenty of mohawks in each and every corner of the small 500 capacity club, surrounding fifteen year old me.

The Misfits made their way to the stage, all decked out in their face-paint and battle gear with their hair slicked forward in front of their faces. Their stage setup set the tone quite well with spikes and skulls covering the drum set, not to mention the smoke rolling in and the giant Crimson Ghost in the background to take it to the next level. They played plenty of songs off of their two latest albums that had come out after Danzig’s Misfits. Kong at the Gates and The Forbidden Zone opened up the show, just as they open up the Famous Monsters album.Witch Hunt kept things going with Walk Among Us, Dig Up Her Bones, From Hell They Came, and the title track off of American Psycho. A few of the classic Misfits tracks also managed to surprise us that night, Last Caress,We Are 138, and Static Age followed by Die, Die My Darling to finish the night off. By the end of the show I was blown away with what I had just experienced. For a first show, the Misfits had set the bar pretty high, not to mention it was only ten bucks to get in! Twenty-nine Misfits tracks were just the beginning of my live music addiction, and what a way to get hooked! We were even lucky enough to meet Jerry Only, Doyle and Chud after the show outside of the venue at their RV before we found our ride back home.

Misfits Live @ Bronson Centre Theatre, Ottawa, ON

Almost fifteen years to the date, on the fifteenth day of October 2015, the Misfits were making their way through Ottawa yet again after all of these years. This time around they were out on the road for their Static Age Revisited Tour, playing their classic 1978 album, which itself hadn’t seen the full release treatment until ’97. Despite it being Jerry Only’s Misfits now, and Danzig was well out of the picture at this point in time, we knew it was our best chance at getting out to see them rocking all of their classics.

The Static Age Revisited Tour was scheduled for a stop at Ottawa’s Bronson Centre Theatre. This was my first time at this venue surprisingly after all of these years of going to concerts. A few of us made our way to the city and hit up a local pub to meet up with another buddy for some pre-drinks. After enjoying a few Oktoberfest brews we made our way to the venue. The doors had opened relatively early that night around 6:30pm and we had missed one of the opening bands by the time we made it down there shortly before 8. A couple of local Ottawa punk bands were lined up as the openers, Shootin’ Blanx and Brain Damage. We ended up catching what seemed to be the last half of the Brain Damage set and they weren’t anything to rave about. The main supporting act for the tour was Jerry Only’s latest creation, the She Demons! An all-girl punk band based out of the West coast. They were great to have as openers on the bill and had the crowd tuned up in no time. They played through just under a dozen tracks of some of the material that they were planning on releasing on their upcoming debut album.

Misfits Ticket Stub

She Demons wrapped up their set and it wasn’t long before the Misfits took the stage. The Crimson Ghost came out with a torch while the smoke machine filled the stage as the lights went out, everyone knew it was showtime! Eric Arce on drums, Marc Rizzo on guitar and Jerry Only ring-leading it all on bass and lead vocals. They dove right into their debut album Static Age with the title track, followed up with TV Casualty, Some Kinda Hate, and a couple of their classics, Last Caress and Return of the Fly. The Misfits finished up their entire seventeen track Static Age album from start to finish and they weren’t even close to being done! A few American Psycho tracks were thrown into the mix with Abominable Dr. Phibes, American Psycho, and Speak of the Devil before continuing on with all of their other gems that we were hoping to hear live; Where Eagles Dare, Scream!, and Fiend Club. The bassist from She Demons came out to play a new song that Jerry had been working on with them, Vampire Girl, before jumping back into the heavy hitters, Dig Up Her Bones, Saturday Night, Helena, American Nightmare, Don’t Open ‘Til Doomsday, and We Are 138, which wrapped up their regular set. As if that wasn’t enough, Jerry Only and the rest of the latest creation of the Misfits returned to the stage for a seven song encore with Die, Die My Darling, and Halloween, topping the setlist off at forty tracks! Overall, it was a great show and we were pretty happy with how it had all turned out. Who knows how much longer these guys will be out touring around. You could certainly tell how another fifteen years of touring out on the road had caught up with them. Would I give them another fifteen years? Who knows? I’m glad that we can say that we were lucky enough to catch these legends of punk live, regardless if they were throughout the Danzig years or not.