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.
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.
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.