Unfortunately, things didn’t go quite as planned that fine evening…
First off, I didn’t leave the good old Roc-cha-cha quickly enough…and my 11 AM start cascaded a series of timing problems that became evident as the day wore on…
Driving to Detroit was alright, took 7 hours or so and there were no major backups. Come up I-75 from the south the Motor City looked pretty good in the golden light of the early evening sun…
Unfortunately, Google Maps gave me crap directions (it’s not on West Jefferson guys) to my hotel and I wound up driving around the wrong part of the waterfront…Joe Louis Arena is eerie when it’s emptied out for the summer…
Thankfully I found my way back to Michigan Ave…I wound up driving by old Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. The grand old dame is a complete eyesore these days, and the city desperately needs to find a purpose for it.
Michigan Ave. eventually took me down to the Hart Plaza area and I was able to cruise down East Jefferson to the Shorecrest Motor Inn where I had booked a room.
I checked in about 6:10 PM, and the hostess was a super-friendly Canadian gal with hot pink nails and a blinged out Audi. We compared notes on Manhattan and I tried to imagine commuting through the Windsor Tunnel everyday!
Adding to my timing issues, my concert tix said that the doors to St. Andrew’s Hall would open at 6 PM and the show would start at 7 PM. Those f’ers at Ticketmaster said doors at 7 PM and show at 8 PM. Somehow I just couldn’t be bothered to call ahead…
So, I figured at worst Silverchair would go on at 8 PM…plenty of time…to watch the evening news, shower, and wander around to grab a bite…
…so I set out around 7:00 PM…wearing jeans, my chain wallet, and a well-loved Detroit Red Wings baseball cap (10 years old, just like the plate in my hand!)…walking half a mile in downtown Detroit is no biggie, right?
Actually it wasn’t. The Ren Center containing GM headquarters is a couple blocks down from the hotel and there are plenty of 5-0 around.
I made it to St. Andrews around 7:15 PM no problem and figured I’d ask the burly doorman what time the show goes on…he must know, right?
Me: “What time does the show start?”
Doorman: “Show already started man.”
Me: “When do you think the main act will go on?” (Sh*t, doors were at 6!)
Doorman: “Mmmm, 9ish….show ends at 10!” (Great, it’s 7:20 PM, plenty of time!)
Me: “Okay. I gotta eat. Got any recommendations?”
Doorman: “Yeah, the Sweetwater Tavern. Get the wings.” (points down the street)
So I strolled on down Congress St. and into the Sweetwater Tavern…right past the “Please Wait to be Seated” sign and down the length of the completely occupied bar…and into a couple funny looks from the brothers…
Maitre d’: “You lookin’ for something?”
Me: (laughs) “Yeah, a spot at the bar!”
There were no spots at the bar, but the Maitre d’ pointed me to some counter seats at the window where I could people watch Congress Street. Some time passed, and I was wondering if I’d need to bust out my all too rusty jive handshake…oh boy…
…but as luck would have it a few more crackers trickled in a few minutes later. One of them was a friendly lady automotive engineer that I wound up chatting with over beers and my most excellent Sweetwater Burger…
Me: “Yeah, I’m from up north…”
Auto E: “You mean like Indian River?”
So we chatted, and chatted, her friends arrived, she introduced me, and we chatted some more…hey, it’s only 8:15 PM, plenty of time to get down the street to St. Andrew’s Hall!
Except that there wasn’t.
I got there around 8:20 PM and it looks as though Silverchair had already been on for at least a few tunes.
I got through the door, installed my earplugs, saw the balcony was roped off, and entered the main hall which was about 2/3 full. I meandered over to the bar and ordered my $6 giant bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale as Silverchair finished up The Greatest View from their 2002 release Diorama.
Now, I must hand it to frontman Daniel Johns for doing an excellent job getting the crowd involved in the show. The audience was encouraged to sing along with tracks from a variety of Silverchair albums, including Straight Lines and The Door.
As is par for the course Daniel also busted out some guitar riffs played with teeth…nice…
I have to hand it to the band for choosing a wide variety of tracks from albums old and new…they know they’ve been away from these shores for a long, long time!
Silverchair is also a really tight band, great chops, you could tape an album straight off the sound boards. Their on stage energy is also hugely contagious, and Daniel always has something witty to say between tracks.
The main problem with St. Andrew’s as a concert venue is that the main floor is flat.
I’m 5’7″. Great!
It was also hotter than hell inside, and not much jamming was needed to work up a sweat.
Eventually I was able to work my way within 20 feet of the stage, but not quite close enough to catch the water bottles, drumstick, or hat that the band chucked into the audience.
At least I wasn’t staring at the back of people’s heads the whole time.
By that time I’d finished my giant Newcastle, and Silverchair had finished their set.
Uh….I know you guys play Chicago August 4th, but c’mon!
So the chant was sent up…“SILVERCHAIR….SILVERCHAIR…SILVERCHAIR…”
…and they magically reappeared….
Daniel Johns: “This song….is for all of those who came to us…when they were 16…or 17….”
(band launches into opening riffs of Freak from their 1997 release Freak Show
(crowd bounces up and down, fists pumping in the air)
Crowd: “…body and soul…I’m a freeeak…”
Crowd: “…Body and Souuul…I’mmmm a Freeeeeaaaak…”
Crowd: “…BODY and SOUUULLL…I’MMMMM A FREEEEEAAAAAAKKK…”
Crowd: “…BODDDY and SOUUUULLLLL…I’MMMMMMM AAA FREEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAKKKKK…”
…and that was all she wrote…another chant was sent up to no avail…
I picked up some swag and headed for the front door…I thought about waiting for the band to board their tour bus, but night was falling and it seemed as though getting back to the hotel was the best idea at that point.
That was no big deal either, contrary to what the media would have you believe. I do need to point out that the local Detroit newscasts have reached the level of self-parody predicted by Robocop way back in 1987!
There are a few other weekend details I could kick in, but I think I will end here.
It was a lot of driving for a concert that was on the short side, but Silverchair are an excellent live show.
In the end, I feel like I can die a happy man after the fantastic sing-a-long to Freak!