It's all about The Kroeger.
Sometimes, when seeing rock stars goes especially well, this is bedtime. Instead, the alarm goes off at 5:45am, a reminder that it's time to get ready to see rock stars. In this case, it's Nickelback, who are at the Halifax airport for a promo spot with WestJet. The band is flying across Canada, stopping in four cities and picking up a few lucky fans along the way.
Me? I'm going because of The Kroeger. Not Mike, the guitarist, or even Chad, the lead guy that sings all those ditties about the all the mean things women do to men. I'm going for THE Kroeger AKA the perm-like thing that grows from Chad's head; the blond curly lockage that I'm convinced is the essence of Nickelback. I mean, really, how else could this band from middle-of-nowhere Alberta sell 17 million records vending mediocre rock music?
I'm convinced The Kroeger is the sole reason people buy Nickelback records. It's the Samson-like power that drives mainstream, grunge-lite rock. If you don't believe me, look at the evidence. Perhaps the best example is the video for "How You Remind Me," the band's breakthrough hit off Silver Side Up, the song about a girl that totally ripped Chad's heart out and stomped on it, over and over again.
In the video, the long, coiled strands of lightened—no, surely not highlighted—tresses framed Kroeger's face as he told that woman where to go, hypnotizing millions into believing Chad was the second coming of Alice in Chains, only not as hard and without the heroin problems. And judging from the ratio of women to men at the event in the lobby of the Halifax International Airport, The Kroeger hypnotized a lot of females as well into either a) feeling guilty for dissing a man in the past, or b) wanting to console a distressed and obviously hurt Chad K.
It was a mistake of huge proportions when Chad finally decided to cut the coils before 2003's full-length The Long Road. Although a success on most A&R standards, the album didn't make nearly as much impact as Silver Side Up and "How You Remind Me.” Seriously, it's all about The Kroeger and I was at the airport before sunrise to discover the truth.
And The Kroeger didn't let me down. By 7:30am, they were all there—the music industry, the major press and 50 or so tired-looking fans holding copies of the new Nickelback disc For All the Right Reasons and pictures of the band.
There were also a few dozen contest winners who won a chance to be selected to travel on the band's charter plane all day while the group fulfilled promo duties in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. And if these fans weren't selected to go on the cross-country trip, they were going to make sure they looked damn good when their names weren't called. All were dressed to kill, looking like they had stepped into a nightclub and not the impromptu stage area between the airport security check-in and bar. The women sported ultra-stylish clothes and make-up. More than a few looked as if they had arrived straight from an all-night salon. Unfortunately, only three people got a chance to go with the boys on Promo Tour '05, er, the WestJet-Nickelback 24-hour Tour.
As the rep from the airline got on stage to tell us how hip the airline was with their marketing scheme, The Kroeger made its presence felt. Everyone suddenly ignored the WestJet guy as the band made its entrance. All eyes averted to the hair—or at least mine did. Girls screamed. Guys hollered. The Kroeger had grown in the last two years. It wasn't as long as it was during the band's heyday, but longer nonetheless. It was grunge-lite magic. Later I discovered All the Right Reasons went straight in to number 1 in the United States and Canada. Coincidence? I think not.
Too bad the band didn't say much. The well dressed and, ahem, well-coiffed rockers got on stage, made a few comments, drew a few lucky winners' names from boxes with that new guy from MuchMusic, took a few group pictures with the dejected losers, then left for Toronto faster than you could say "See you at the show."
But before they left, Chad made sure everyone knew the special powers he carried on his scalp and its effects on the masses. Halfway through the ceremony, Chad looked into the crowd, laughed, and asked if he could have a fan's poster. Mom would love it, he told us, grinning. Unraveling the poster, the audience erupted: "NICKELBACK MAKES MY PANTIES WET".
Everyone laughed. The press, the fans, the music execs—all chuckled as The Kroeger glistened in the early Halifax morning light. Even me.