Just a bit of thanks up front. Big Wreck is a band I discovered since sobriety. Sobriety brought me to the Lord and it's through His Grace that I have an awesomely great wife who is also my besty. So thanks Lord for giving us this unbelievable weekend.
Bet and I travelled six hours Thursday night, stopping in Darien lakes, Upstate NY. Up that morn, breakfast at Dennys' and off on our two hour drive to Toronto. We arrived at an expanding, bustling, downtown Toronto and made our way to the Danforth/Riverdale section. Bet had set us up in a B&B a few blocks from the Danforth Theater. I HIGHLY recommend this place! It was really nice, peaceful and very affordable. Our hostess Joanne was sweet and accommodating.
First thing, we took a walk on Danforth, up to the theater and about and made reservations at Allen's for dinner. After a nap, we were off for dinner in Allen's courtyard adjacent to the theater. We could hear the thunder of the soundcheck but couldn't discern the songs. Rested and ready we made our way out front with the VIP crew.
We met Jamie and Erin, Bill and Kelly, Ian Shuye, Matt and his Sister and some other familiar faces and we were hustled upstairs into the mezzanine hallway where the band was set up assembly line fashion. I brought my camera (case and all) in anticipation of getting a shot with us and the band. We got our promo poster, handed it to Paulo who was first, got a handshake, he signed it and it was next to Dave and on. Limited interaction, and it looked like there was gonna be no pix, bummer. Full of anticipation and nervousness I get to Brian and I hear Ian say "Buk!"
In case anyone does not know, Ian has been an email buddy since I was given the opportunity to send him questions for the BW website. He allowed me to hear the CD early and write it all up for the Thornleyfan blog. I shoot him a one liner now and then and we say hey back and forth. My main objective is to refrain from being an intrusive pain in the ass douche to an artist I admire immensely. That being said, when you finally get to meet the person in the flesh, are you gonna be like they think and will they be like you think? I'm essentially an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.
I shake Ian's hand, and I'm like "Facebook is cool, he recognizes me!" Happy as hell, Betty and I take our handshakes and posters and move on down the stairs. Halfway down I hear Ian. "Hey Buk!" I run back up and he tells me to talk to Andy (Andy Curran BW's manager). I have no idea what's up but Andy gets my cell number and says that he'll text me at the end of the show IF the band is gonna do an after show thing. I'm flabbergasted but psyched!
Bet and I go down to the lobby to bring home some BW booty to NJ. Tees, sweatshirts and all! Just as we're done, Ian comes down into the lobby. Everyone else was outside and he just starts talking about Thursday's show, playing the first show for the hometown and all. Again I'm kinda stunned but Ian made me feel right at home. Having my wife with me (she loves Ian) helps me from acting the nudnik. Jamie (he's met Ian many times) comes in and gets us moving off to our own fan meet and greet! We had a lot of fun just walking and talking on our way to the bar catching up with our FB buds.
After a few hours, we go back to the theater (sorry Rikers) and check our tickets. We've got row AA which we figure is like 27th row. That sucks for VIP! Bummed we start down the aisle. We soon find that AA is FIRST ROW! Not only first row, but dead center!!! And of course we're surrounded by all the BW FB peeps! I feel like I know everyone there! I sit down and strike up a conversation with a gent next to me who looks to be my generation. He looks at me and says "Buk, it's me, Paul Merryweather from facebook!" FB was everywhere! He told me some great old BW stories! I turn around and behind me is Kevin Bissel, our bud from the Thornley Rocks site. He and His wife are back for the second show there in Toronto.
The setting is PERFECT. Betty is thrilled that we have such GREAT seats. Walking miles in heels and then sitting for a rock show was just what the doctor ordered for her. Show time… Lights go down… the smooth vocals of Head Together begin… And BIG WRECK hits the stage and CRUSHES the opening riffs! The crowd sings along and we're bouncing in our seats.
The opening guit riffs of Million Days echo out and a big security guy rushes in front of us and waves the crowd forward! Hundreds of fans rush to the stage edge, Bet looks at me like "Wahhh!" and it's on our feet for the rest of the show! It was a bit of a bummer but it did hype the energy level in the whole place!
The show was fantastic! I danced, jumped, pumped my fists, played endless air guitar, sweated, sang at the top of my lungs (my wife is a saint!), stomped and alternately horrified and amused the young ladies around us. Kev and I are high five-ing, just enjoying the shit out of the vibe. I kept turning around to watch all the faces singing along to even the new stuff! Seeing Big Wreck with a home field advantage is the BEST! I even watched the band occasionally.
The sacrifice for being so close was the mix. I could only really hear Brad and Ian's guitar since we were in front of the PA. The guitar battle at the end of All Is Fair was one sided. I could hardly hear Paulo. However, Ladylike and You Caught My Eye rocked the house!! It was like a steam bath and paint was falling from the ceiling!
The Oaf ended with strobe lights, an incredibly explosive drum solo, guitars feeding back, and the band walking off waving. Ian walks up to say his last "Thank you, good night!" Now get this… He stops, points to me, leans over through the outreached crowd, smiles and hands me his pic! All the girls at the edge of the stage turn and they're like "WTF?" I'm thinking the same. Yet, I get the "PICK OF DESTINY!" But wait it gets better!
Two seconds later I get the text. We're invited to meet up with the band later. NOW what am I gonna do? I've gotta ditch my buds. Awkward. But funny awkward. They were very gracious but busted my balls nonetheless.
While we waited outside, I spotted Chris Seldon from Grand Canyon. I had no idea what his name was, but I know I liked their vid (Ian played in it). I'm like, "Dude! You're that guy from that black and white vid!" I'm blanked on the particulars but I know it's him. He's gracious and patient and introduces me to Courtney, his musical partner who's standing right next to me! I gush over them about how classy that vid is and then it's time to go.
I explain the situation to Jamie, he says "You suck!" We make them look away as we cross the street, so they could not follow us. I told you it was funny. (Hung out with Jamie and Erin the next morn and all's cool)
Bet and I go in and recognize no one. Were 25 years older than anyone in there, so we just slide down to the end of the bar near the stairs to the bathrooms. We have no idea how this all works; is there a back room?; are we going somewhere else? I fish out some Canadian money and proceed to order drinks. We are happy to just sit and and relax. Bet sees that no one is paying but we find out that you need a ticket from Andy. I finally spot Andy and he hooks me up. We sit for a while, just basking in the afterglow.
Right next to us in walks this large bald headed guy and his wife. I recognize him from the posters I did for Patrick Benti's band HAARD. It's Ed Mortenson the drummer!! I tell him how fantastic I thought the CD was! His wife is gushing that we're fans! They are sweet and Ed texts Benti that "Buk's here!" My wife is like, "How the heck do you know all these people!" "I don't… really."
Finally in walks the band toward the gaggle. Ian turns immediately and comes over and greets us. Asks if we enjoyed the show, how we were doing, just all homey and nice. He introduces me to Big Chris the gentle giant security guy who runs the show. He's like "Buk n' betty it's so nice to meet you, Ian has told me all about you…" Bet and I look at each other like…. Ian is off to get Christine to meet us. She is sweet and gracious. We talk to Brian and His wife Tina who is a TOTAL sweetheart! She LOVES the portrait I did of Brian (gonna make some high res prints and send them off to her!)
While Ian took care of some biz, I turn around and right behind me is Casey Marshall! We still listen to Fairfield regularly on road trips and told him so. Told him I LOVED the Eagles vibe on that CD and he acknowledged it's Eagleness! He said that they banged that out over a few weeks. When I urged him to get that album out he hinted that he might resurrect it!! That would be AWESOME!!!
For the better part of an hour Ian just hung back with us as he met other fans/local musicians. We chatted about family and the biz, etc. Big Chris, offers to take a pic of us and Ian. As you can see, I'm grinning like a lunatic. Betty says it's like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz…. "And you were there, you were there, and you too!"
Big Chris says it's time to go and Ian bids his goodbyes. He thanks us and we thank him. We were treated like royalty. It was an evening beyond my imagination. We walked home giggling like little kids! I drank a large coke at 1:00 am at the bar. With the combination of the caffeine and all the excitement I laid in bed wide awake all night like a kid at Disneyworld! And that's our story!!