The 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.