Monday, July 18, 2011



Bluesfest has been a premier summer music event in Ottawa since the mid nineties. This year, the lineup was quite amazing, though I did not make it to any of the shows.

Until last night.

By chance, a good friend of mine asked if I would be interested in checking out Cheap Trick, who were one of several acts closing the festival this year. I have not seen these guys live since the late 80's ("The Flame" was a surprise return to the charts for them at that time).

I was in!

We had a couple of beer and were kindly given a lift down to the site. Arriving just before the band hit the main stage, we lined up for more beverages and found a spot just as the pre-recorded intro finished. They came out strong with "Hello There" and carried on with an unexpected "Tonight It's You".

So far so good.

About 15 minutes in, an ominous, dark shadow began to creep up behind the audience. People began to point skyward and take pictures of the advancing dark clouds.

Something wicked this way comes

Sensing a heavy downpour was imminent, many of the assembled now began to turn away from the stage, pack up and leave. My buddy told me to turn around and look at the trees in the background. The wind was bending them almost to the ground. Then the mains went dead, though the band still had a monitor mix. A flock of birds was blown out of their planned flight path, toward the stage as 120 kmph winds roared past. Cheap Trick downed tools, fled the stage and thirty seconds later, disaster struck.

The stage was lifted and toppled backward in a completely chaotic and surreal scene. We were stunned, though all of us agreed to calmly find a safe spot as hail, rain and debris pelted the crowd. It is astounding that no one was killed.

I have been to hundreds of shows. This is by far the strangest and most unsettling concert experience that I have ever had. We trooped away from the site as emergency vehicles screamed toward the scene. Hitting a pub after a trek in the rain, pints were hastily ordered and consumed as we tried to make sense of the weather bomb. Not quite the evening that any of us expected, though it will be memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

No comments: