I’ll never forget the spectacle that was Nickelback on stage. The year was 2004; I was a Street Team Leader at the Top 40 radio station I grew up listening to, Kiss 98.5 in Buffalo. I and two colleagues drove to Darien Lake in scenic Corfu, N.Y. and headed backstage, where two musicians in 3 Doors Down not named Brad Arnold recorded liners for the station (Arnold, the lead singer, was on vocal rest). We then made our way to the front of the amphitheater to catch the end of 12 Stones’ set (“Broken” was my jam). Next up, 3 Doors Down, and the band sounded so true to its studio recordings it was ridiculous. Arnold and company ran through a tight set of hits from The Better Life and Away From The Sun. No theatrics, no crowd hype; just straight melting your face off.
We almost hit the road after that to beat traffic (pretty sure we had another appearance that evening back in downtown Buffalo) but we decided to hang around a bit to see what the Canadian rockers had in store for the crowd. I won’t say they were better or worse than 3DD… but Nickelback was certainly different. The best way I can sum up the contrast between the two acts is by telling you the most memorable portion of Nickelback’s set, in part because I had never seen anyone do this on stage before.
“Who wants free beer?!” growled Kroeger to the sold-out crowd. The audience roared and so at their behest, a road case-turned-tabletop was wheeled out. On top of the case were dozens of plastic cups filled with beer. Nickelback then began to grab the cups and toss them one-by-one out to the crowd.
A quick YouTube search actually yielded a few videos, including one from the band’s official account, of this act. Apparently Nickelback has done this as recently as 2012 and it is referred to as the “Beer Toss.” Hey, the more you know.
Anyways, fast forward 11 years from when I witnessed it: Nickelback will tour with Lifehouse later this year, and I demanded that Jason Wade and Bryce Soderberg tell me what they would give to the masses this summer.
“Well I guess we can’t give them free beer anymore,” joked Wade. “Free tequila maybe?”
You can’t blame the lead singer for his line of thinking. After all, we were speaking at Live Nation’s National Concert Day event, which conveniently fell on Cinco de Mayo.
“Alcoholic beverages always work on any level,” added Soderberg. “So we’re going to have to dig in to our rider and see what we can cough up.”
The mention of beer actually jogged Wade’s memory to the last time he saw the guys – about 15 years ago.
“We played 10 shows with the guys in 2000, 2001,” the lead singer recalled. “We’d both play our sets and then have some beer after the shows. They’re the most down-to-earth, nicest guys.”
Between the two bands there will be plenty of big hits to be played, and maybe a beer or two to be shared throughout the summer. Lifehouse’s seventh studio album, Out Of The Wasteland, hits stores May 26.