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.