Search This Blog

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Cheap Trick Storm That Collapsed A Bluesfest Stage - 2011 Music Moment

I just want to start off today by wishing all of the moms out there a very happy Mother's Day!  I hope you're getting spoiled by your children, grandchildren, and if it applies, great grandchildren!

And, since this month I'll be featuring things that were brand new five years ago, I thought that I would try to make this entry mother themed.

The key word is TRY.

And I failed.  Big time.

While a lot of interesting music themed things happened in 2011, none of them really did much to celebrate mothers.  So, I'll have to try and come up with another angle.

Now, I'm quite positive that when it comes to people who were born around the same time that I was, their mothers likely listened to a lot of late 1970s progressive rock, old fashioned rock, or maybe even the punk scene.

Not mine!  Mine listened to Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell, and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  Now THAT's a combo!

I can however tell you that one rock song my mom likes is Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me".  Released in September 1977, the single rocketed up the charts very quickly and many people consider the single to be the band's signature hit.  I know that I definitely like the song, and it was on my way to work one morning that a local radio station was playing it and it reminded me of an incident that involved the band five years ago while they were performing that very song.

Unfortunately, it was a moment that the band themselves would rather forget.

The date was July 17, 2011.  The place was the Bluesfest festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  And, before I continue with this discussion, I want to tell you all about what Bluesfest is.  It will familiarize yourselves with the festival as you read on.

Bluesfest was started in Ottawa in 1994, and at first, the only headline entertainer to appear was Clarence Clemmons of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.  But over the next twenty-two years, the festival has grown tremendously and has attracted lots of big named talent.  I don't know if you could quite call it the Coachella of the Great White North, but it certainly is a festival that is worth attending at least once.

And aside from the great talent that amalgamates to Canada's capital city every July, the program has also implemented the "Blues in the Schools" program, which assigns musicians to teach local school children how to play music as well as instructing them about the history of modern music.  I think it's a fantastic program, especially in a period where arts and music programs seem to be getting cut.

Now that you know what Bluesfest is, we can continue.

On July 17, 2011, Cheap Trick was slated to perform at Bluesfest on stage in front of a large crowd of people.  And at first, it seemed as though nothing of note would happen.  Certainly, the weather at that time was overcast, but nothing to really consider least not when the band began to perform anyway.

Twenty minutes into Cheap Trick's set, the band was right in the middle of playing the signature hit that I previously talked about earlier.  At this time, a sudden storm was approaching the main stage - so sudden that it went from calm to torrential downpour and strong winds in a flash.  Trust me, in Canada, this is quite common during the summer months.  When I did the Relay for Life back in 2014, we had a sudden thunderstorm blow in as we were just getting ready to start the event and the storm delayed us for almost half an hour!  And then the storm ended as quickly as it began!  It's crazy how summer storms can get.

Well, in Ottawa, a similar thing happened.  The storm went away as quickly as it came.  But as the storm hit the stage, the unexpected happened.

The wind shook the stage violently as the band wrapped up their performance of "I Want You To Want Me", and before long, the roof of the stage started to collapse!  Luckily for Cheap Trick, the band had managed to get off the stage before the structure collapsed.  But at least three people were injured in the melee, and the stage collapse ultimately put an end to the Bluesfest fun for the rest of the night.

But how could such a thing happen?

Well, as I explained before, summer storms in Canada are quite unpredictable.  Sometimes they can be as insignificant as a thunderclap, while other times they can spawn serious tornadoes.  In this case, it was the perfect storm (pardon the pun) for near disaster. 

And the stage itself was a rental, but it had been inspected for safety quite regularly and was considered structurally sound at the time of the concert - but again, I'm sure nobody really expected a sudden storm to come out of nowhere and turn the stage into a bunch of oversized pick-up sticks either.

Either way, it was definitely a freak accident - and luckily, nobody was killed.  That in itself was a miracle.

Still...five years since that happened.  Crazy how time flies! 

No comments:

Post a Comment