Just as I began freelancing for the Weekly in late 2000, I recall flipping on VH1 to find then music editor Richard Martin waxing prosaic about Everclear on Behind the Music (not entirely his bad; the bastards put him through the cutting-room puree). Psyched as I was for Richard, it struck me that there was only one thing sadder than fucking Behind the Music qualifying as the zenith of national television exposure in my niche profession: Nobody was asking for my droning two cents about some pop atrocity. While the day will come when I put on 5,000 pounds, don a beret, and pontificate about the tumultuous inner workings of Limp Bizkit like I was hand in hand with Fred Durst in the grotto, my r鳵m頩s still woefully bereft of "Useless Music Television Special Cameo."
That, Jesus willing, is about to change, and the Jesus I refer/pray to in this circumstance is goldilocked Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger. When I learned that Alberta's pre-eminent n-grunge quartet would "rock" the EMP Sky Church last Wednesday for a VH1 special, well, let me put my emotions in context: I've gone round and round, Ratt-style, about my new drinker baby steps in this column. We can probably concur that the ideal time to get demolished is before a mega-event. You know: Super Bowl, the Oscars, date with Bea Arthurthat sort of thing.
Nickelback? I didn't need a drop. Nickelback aren't just any n-grunge band. Chad tackles genre hot topics like spousal abuse ("Never Again"), bad dads ("Too Bad"), and the bitch who done him wrong ("How You Remind Me") with such profundity that . . . I won't elaborate, and I shouldn't have to. You screwheads need to pause the Bright Eyes and Radiohead and feel the real.
Inside, we were immediately asked to whoop it up for "crowd reaction shots," and so began an exhausting hour-long routine of raising double devil's horns, roaring in as deep a timbre as my sissy voice could muster, and wagging my tongue every time a crane swooped by (never between the fingers, though, tempting as it was). Chad flung out the first of many customized Nickelback guitar picks, which was caught by My Roommate Mat, whohaving just returned from two weeks of accelerated culture vacationing in Europepromptly turned around and screamed, "Fuck you ALL!!!"
My No. 2 Goalfinally losing my crowd-surfing virginitywas not met; the first such offender was hastily erased from the matrix, as was the genius who miraculously snuck his own Bud past the snarl of security. But my No. 1 Goallooking like a mutant on extended cableappears to be in the bag. I purposely remained adjacent to the shirtless dudes who pogoed through the entire set beforenoticing that I knew Chad's entire lyrical repertoirepointing at me and performing . . . the rodeo. The rodeo, designed less for Nickelback than, say, the Dixie Chicks, entails placing one hand on your hip, raising your other to the heavens and swinging an imaginary lariat. I met these boys' demands. We are the stars of tomorrow.
The mega-event was so draining that my body had no choice but to shut down in preparation for Thursday's mega-event, W.K. Day, one of the few days in my life that exceeded the ludicrous expectations I'd assigned it. Andrew W.K. has single-handedly reintroduced piano-driven buttrock to the world with an insatiable enthusiasm that's incredibly easy to poke fun at, but far more stimulating to embrace head-on. His manifesto partially consists of "the aggressive pursuit of fun," and his day in Seattle began with what promised to be just that: a guest cashier appearance at Sonic Boom in Capitol Hill prior to the evening's rock show at Graceland.
Around 4:30 p.m., W.K. commandeered the back register and I was eighth in line, right behind whom I would only identify as Death Cab for Cutie bassist Nick Harmer when he gave W.K. a copy of his band's new album, Transatlanticism ("I've heard amazing things about your band!" W.K. gushed). I was packing Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Deftones imports, and in an awkward post-handshake moment, mewled, "So, are you actually going to ring me up?"
Nyet. The register was on the fritz, meaning I was basically in line for an autograph, which would be asinine with almost any other entertainer. W.K. immortalized my smelly Mets cap with the following: "To Andrew: The N.Y. is cool like the W.K. And we have the same name! Your friend, Andrew W.K." Every item he signed was similarly customized. Every item. Improvised. On the spot. I have no doubt that mine ranks 1,595 out of 2,423.
In the interest of heeding W.K.'s titular advice ("Party 'til You Puke"), I went rum-and-Coke hog-wild at Graceland. After three songs in the suffocating pit, I sprinted to the john to fulfill the prophecy, but . . . couldn't. For 48 hours so pockmarked with failures, why do I feel inexorably accomplished?
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