Backstage at the Junos -

Backstage at the Junos

‘Oh, good: a roomful of people we hate’


Backstage at the JunosThe Junos, recently reduced to a punchline on 30 Rock, have rid Vancouver of its “no-fun image,” proclaimed a banner headline in the Vancouver Sun this morning, evidencing the “screaming fans who lined the red carpet show.” For many of the city’s music fans—and pro-fun activists—that was a tough headline to swallow. Several live music venues, including the Peanut Gallery, Sweatshop and the Emergency Room, have closed recently, the result fines and illiberal liquor and noise bylaws.. And music nights at the Wired Monk coffee shop and Hoko Sushi and Karaoke Bar have been canceled because of pressure from city officials.

So as live music slowly dies in Vancouver, the Junos arrive. Last night’s award winners, including Nickelback (Album of the Year, Group of the Year and Fan Choice Award), were paraded backstage to the media room at GM Place. “Oh, good: a roomful of people we hate,” mumbled Mike Kroeger, Nickelback’s guitarist, upon entering the media room. His brother took over from there: “We are a very mainstream band that’s not popular among the press,” explained frontman Chad Kroeger. “Sam Roberts for example, is more of a critics’ darling. We are a mainstream band—but that’s OK, because our fans like that kind of music.” (Roberts, a Montrealer, named Artist of the Year, is also a fair bit more charming.)

A few more scenes from backstage:

  • Roberts, drinking a beer, spoke tenderly of Montreal’s music community, and stayed for a ten-minute chat with a local musician, ignoring repeated attempts by a handler to chase him from the media pen and back into the limelight.
  • One of the sweeter moments came care of Vancouver’s Sarah McLachlan, who received the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the pre-broadcast gala (her fussy beige-and-white dress at last night’s main event was flattering in person—though she required an assistant to carry its extended train). A journalist with the Ubyssey, the student newspaper at the University of British Columbia, told McLachlan that, despite being a “huge” fan, he’d never managed to see her live—“not even tonight” (the CTV feed was being piped to media on a six-second delay). McLachlan responded by singing the chorus to Adia a cappella, staring into his eyes.
  • McLachlan was followed backstage by 21-year-old musician LIGHTS (her legal name), who won for New Artist of the Year, and flashed media her tattoos. (The large green one on her back is Wonder Woman fighting Giganta, the cover of Wonder Woman #127, Vol. 2.)
  • Loverboy, another Vancouver product, received lifetime achievement honours and were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. They were asked to give advice to the Stills, the New Group of the Year. “Take care of your knees,” said frontman Mike Reno.
  • The biggest backstage applause went to host Russell Peters, who won a Genie Award for his hosting duties at last year’s Junos, and immediately made things awkward by dubbing a large writer from a gay magazine “gigantorgay.”
  • St. Catherine’s Ontario native Dallas Green, sporting a brown plaid jacket, bowtie and glasses like Wheels’s from Degrassi, won Songwriter of the Year. He told media he’d invited the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie to join him in the studio because he kept hearing his voice on Sleeping Sickness and the wonderful The Girl—“which is not surprising because I ripped it off from him,” adding that he’d written the song for his album, Bring Me Your Love, after hearing Downie’s Thompson Girl.

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Backstage at the Junos

  1. oh fer crissake.

    the sweatshop was closed because it was the biggest deathtrap, I, as a fire official, have ever seen.

    go Wiki the Station nightclub fire for a frickin clue, you oh so cool media sluts.

    Malice Liveit brought that closure on himself for his selfish actions, he can blame the corporate elite all he wants.

    Do some f>>ckin homework if you want to be respectable media for a change. Or just repeat the no fun city boilerplate some more.

    No fire alarm, no sprinklers, no exits, no occupant load certificate, no washrooms, hundreds packed into a skateboarding 1940’s warehouse. Oh, poor alternative crowd, picked on by no fun officials. Who’s worse, the scum chargin 20 bucks at the door of a deathtrap, or the fatass lazy media who parrot their whineing when they get called on it. Same one’s who will go after the city when there is a pile of dead when it all goes wrong. Your ignorance makes me puke. Do some research and prove me wrong, you ignorant f**ks.

    • Man, I thought fire officials were nice.

      • Jack, I respect your opinions here. I apologize for the profanity and nastiness. I have had a couple, and spewed my immediate response to the article. If I could go back and re-edit my response, I would now.


        Sorry for the hard edge, but the facts remain. Wiki the Station Nightclub fire, the Gottenburg, Sweden Nightclub fire, other Night club fires, etc etc. We see the worst case scenarios, and are charged with preventing them.

        It gets a bit much to see Nancy MacDonald parrotting the “no fun city” line (google the Sweatshop closure, the Vancouver Courier story on it). The Sweatshop got what it deserved, by endangering lives. Nancy has my email address if she wants the other side of the story here. I am sick of being beaten up by the cool, edgy promoters who don’t play by the rules, endanger your kids lives, and then whine when they get called on it.

        Hallowe’en, 2008, I never saw a more dangerous venue. The Sweatshop was told to conform to fire bylaws and provide a fire safety plan. Didn’t happen. New Years, they were closed down, waited till fire and police left, then reopened. Had their lease yanked due to this. Haven’t stopped whineing since. Sorry if we get a bit cranky for their total disrespect for not only the laws everyone else must abide by, but more importantly, the lives of the 15 to 30 year olds they pack into their venure to make a few bucks.

        At least Nickelback plays by the rules for their “cheesy” pyrotechnics. It was a bit much to see them slagged by Nancy, while the Sweatshop was upheld as a virtuous model.

        • Thanks, marty, I hear you, and I very much appreciate the job you do, which saves lives by the dozen. Interesting to hear the inside story about promoters and venues, I don’t doubt it for a moment. This Sweatshop place seems like one of the worst. Keep up the good work, we’re grateful for it.

    • Although I can agree with you that the Sweatshop was indeed not the safest venue, I think it's good to see that we're just trying to get out of the pattern of not having a places to play and see shows.
      What is being worked on is opening an all-ages venue. I don't think people are entirely focusing on the Sweatshop as a place to model after, but they're more thinking of the good times that were had when it was running, and they want to capture the feel all the shows gave the people. It's just a matter of finding a place that meets safe standards for everybody.

      Problems with venues, the music scene, and a bunch of annoyed people craving a good show? Yeah, you're bound to run into complications. ESPECIALLY illegal ones. In my idea, if we put a venue into the picture, it would generally put an end to it. Taking away and not solving something doesn't always fix everything, so why not make an attempt at finding a happy medium. A super safe venue that does really awesome shows, anyone?