Hey Big Wreck fans! Time to talk about our latest trip. Bet and I drove out to The Note in West Chester PA. A stylish little place that has a capacity of about 400 in a college town of sorts. We stayed with old buddies of ours Drs. Jerry and Pam; The Grundoons (it's along story). They live about a half hour from The Note. It's a couple of hours from where we live, so it was a real blessing that we could stay over night at their house. Even better, they have become fans of the music. I've known Jerry since 3rd grade and through high school and college we used to crank some tunes. Within the last two years we have had the opportunity to rekindle some musical stuff, through me turning him on to Sonny Landreth.
Along with some other Sonny stuff, I got him Albatross (because EVERYONE gets Albatross) and lo and behold he could "hear" it. As all you Big Wreck fans know, many listen to BW but few people "hear" it. Jerry gets it. And I REALLY enjoy that! I've tried to get people to "get it" for as long as I've known BW. Most people can only scratch the surface; "Sounds like Zep" "He sings like Chris Cornell" "It has that Can-Rock Nu-Rock Nickleback sound", "Every song sounds different". etc. I'm sure you all know what I mean. The Canadians love their BW, but I even hear bitching and moaning that "they're ALWAYS on the radio!" in some circles on the internet. Well not so in the US and I guess all over the rest of the world!
That's why I wanted to write a bit of a tribute to Big Wreck's foreign legion. Us foreigners live in a world isolated from BW dominance. We've got quite a few of us scattered throughout the world on the BW Facebook Group page. We've got genetic mutants in Poland, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, India, the US and other nations. I call us genetic mutants, because I think that it's a Big Wreck gene that we fans all have. We love the crunch, but swoon to the sweet melodies. We bounce to the muscular riff and chill to the sexy-tasty solos. We get goose bumps to the harmonies, but throw our necks out to the dissonant throw down of Falling to Pieces. The lyrics, one part clever wordplay and two parts sincere story telling are so deep they resonate daily. To us Ian's voice doesn't sound like Myles OR Cornell. He is IT! We hum the melodies as we shop, sing the words when we're alone, and dance 'til we fall down dizzy in the basement (maybe that's just me). We get our kids to listen until they tell us they like other music instead, but you catch them singing along when it's on in the car "NO TALKING until this song's over"… and it's never over.
I've always enjoyed turning people on the new music. I love to see when their eyes light up with that "WOW this kicks ass!" look. That's what the show at The Note was all about for me. Bet loves going down front, watching all the nuance of the band interactions up close. At least that's what she says…. (in front of Ian all the time!) Me, I like to talk it all up with anyone who's near. I had plenty of enthusiastic fanage to engage with.
We got there for the first band's set and parked in the way-back. Dave came by and said hello and had to go set up. Bet and I popped outside to the bus to say hey (Grundoon and pam were too shy…), met Chuck for the first time, and hung with Brian, Paulo and Chuck for a few minutes getting the skinny on Baltimore; the show AND the sight seeing. All good and upbeat. They were in show prep mode and concerned with the curfew, two new crew members and a VERY tight setup. Compared to the extravaganza of the TOAD tour this is a back-to-basics gig.
As we trundled off the bus, into the too-cold-for-spring-in-PA-night (no laughing you Canadians) we saw a couple of young dudes with BW shirts on catching a smoke. I said "I guess you guys are here to see the Wreck" (clever, huh)That turned into a 20 minute, arm waving, hand gesturing, Big Wreck Fan club meeting in the freezing cold. Vin A, the singer in an oldies band that tours all over, drove down from North Jersey with his boys and girls to see this band that has torn up his life since he heard Wolves on the radio while HE was touring Canada. "Music today SUCKS! My people (kids his age) don't know what GOOD is! This band is REAL!" He's 25 and he GETS IT! Justin O'Brien from an hour away PA and his Jersey girlfriend hear the commotion and chime in. Justin's 27 and has been waiting 14 years, since the Oaf was on MTV when he was 11 to see this band that hooked him. These guys' PARENTS are younger than me, but we share the same mutant Big Wreck gene! It was GREAT!
As we pressed on inside, up front we met all kinds of people of the same thread. Fans for years or brand new "hearers" all traveling multiple miles and many years to see the Big Wreck magic live. You all know that the show was killer. That the solos were chicken skin inducing. Really, though I LOVE every song AND the whole band together, but when Ian just leans into a solo there is a vibration in the air that resonates with your spine that melts away all. Few guitar players possess that quality. It certainly makes you notice. I don't know why more people don't. Oh that's right…. it's a GENETIC MUTATION.
Vin A, a bit enthusiastic (understatement alert) blurts out in his hoarse rocker voice "SOME Albatross". Ian starts cracking up, cause from up on stage it sounded like one of these metal band voices. He points out a poster he saw for some death metal band called "Suffocation" and launches into his death metal voice "Here's the new one from SUFFOCATION - Albatross!" We all crack up, Vin included, cause we GET IT!
Musically, the mix was a bit tough down front, but perfect in the back. The stage amps are immense and powerful. Chuck has a HUGE bass drum and sat low with no riser. Davey was particularly tasty in the upfront mix. Paulo was off by the brick wall and was kind of constrained, but he ripped it like a pro. I was closest to Brian and really got a taste of all the nuance he brings to the music. All the overtones and fill notes that make Ian sound so full are Brian in complete sync with Ian. While Paulo provides counterpoint, Brian expands Ian's sound to muscle it up. Damned good band! Even their old standards BWO, The Oaf, That Song sound tight and fresh! And to hear this room of 150 genetic mutants from the good old USA sing all the words was just WONDERFUL!
Most wonderful of all, though, was this little girl. Maybe 25 or so, 5 ft tall, iPhone in hand, stage front and videoing every move of Dr. Thornley. She was in her own little world. Singing EVERY WORD of EVERY song she convinced me that we shared a gene somewhere. More about her later. We met a couple from Richmond who had seen them the night before in Baltimore. Needless to say; blown away
The show had no big surprises until the end. Tears for Fears Shout REALLY had some muscle. It is/was a perfect cover for Ian's new appreciation for the 80's. After a particularly tasty nuanced Shout solo they abruptly put the hammer down on Falling to Pieces! The ending crescendos into that long pattern of four guitars & banging out that dissonant rubber "bong, bong, bong…" with Chuck changing up the beat and fills. It was like a dub-step chant that began galloping into a boogie beat. You could see that they were all diggin' how Chuck was changing it up. The crowd was stunned. We all cheer and just like that it was over.
I engaged all that I could in the crowd to gauge how their first Wreckage went. Smiles and enthusiastic one-of-a-kind experience kudos were found all around. My gene pool rocks!
I'd say 80% of the peeps there were musicians. They tend to have a radar for the layers of the Wreck. They're hard to impress openly, but once you engage them they gush all over.
I poked a couple who looked to not be rocker types and they opened up about just discovering the band months ago. The guy turned her on to the album, knowing she was a Chris Cornell fan. She COMPLETELY got it. They've been listening for months and drove up from DC to see the band. Fans for life with so much to discover! I t' s i n t h e g e n e s.
Later on, Bet and I went to the bus to say our goodbyes. Dave and Paulo were outside entertaining the 50 or so mega-fans. The crowd gave us some heat for getting on the bus. Jealous….
Through the curtain and into the kitchen/living area on the bus and there she is! That little girl. Her name is Lucretia and she is rapid-fire interviewing Ian. She's all deep into the music, lyric content, how it relates to his personal experiences… wow, she's like "Chatty Bat" (look it up on youtube) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJYriwQJBis (watch about 2:40 in) and Ian's all smiles and wit. It was like looking at myself pumping Ian for info to get that deep connect that was ingrained from listening for the last 14 years. AND she drove to see BW from TEXAS!!!! I'm telling you IT'S IN THE GENES!
Bet and I said our thank yous and byes, Ian gave Betty her a big hug we made some loose plans with Brian, to see them up in Sarnia. And we left the bus.
The crowd booed us, 'cause they wanted Brian and Ian to come out. Well from what I hear they did and hung out for quite a while with the 50 or so genetically modified by Big Wreck fans in waiting!!
PS Still looking for Lucretia from Texas. Get her in the Big Wreck Facebook group!