The Week That Was Part 2: Backstage at the Avril Lavigne concert

I suppose you could file this under “Always Answer Your Phone”; even though, strictly speaking, it was an email.

Those who know me, know I have a rather eclectic group of friends: musicians, business men and women, artists, dancers, international fugitives… One of them, however, also happens to be a world famous celebrity… in the world of HAM radio. VE7 LTD is my brother’s call sign. He doesn’t broadcast a lot but over the past few years, he has been responsible for the creation of hardware and software that has changed and modernized the way HAM radio operates. It was because of his “hobby” that I found myself backstage at Avril Lavigne’s concert at Rogers Arena last Monday. I love my life.

Evan Taubenfeld used to be Avril Lavigne’s guitar player. He is also a HAM radio enthusiast. Rather interesting given his age, occupation, and today’s iPhone fuelled twitter culture. Anyhow, he is a solo artist now and touring with Lavigne. When the Black Star Tour came to Vancouver, he arranged to meet with my brother. My brother asked if I would like to tag along. I, of course, said yes.

Describing a fun and interesting evening will be kind of boring, I’m afraid. Though just a measly blogger, I still believe that “off the record” is exactly that. When Evan asked what I did for work I told him is was a ski tech. Though technically true, I didn’t mention I was also a “lifestyle writer with a very unhealthy lifestyle” who tends to write about everything I do. Because an assumed “OTR” is more sacred to me than a requested one, anything “salacious” Taubenfeld did or did not say in confidence will stay there.

Here’s the thing though; apart from some interesting conversations about the new financial relationships between artists and their labels, there wasn’t much to report. His dressing room was simple and stocked with Canucks water (bottled water with the Canucks logo on it) and a couch. His entourage consisted of the person who runs his website and my brother and me. The only warning we were given was to not do anything stupid. A few years ago, some friends of his did something “stupid” and he wasn’t allowed guests for the rest of the tour.

Backstage at Rogers Arena is still backstage at Rogers Arena though and I just couldn’t pass this up:

Sitting on one of the Canucks' Zambonis

David and I were issued backstage passes and given pretty much the run of the arena. The crew were doing sound checks when we arrived and we sat in on Evan’s.

Stage crew sets up for the Black Star Tour at Rogers Arena

Evan asked Dave and me if we would like to meet Avril if he could arrange it. I thought it would be fun but Dave and I silently communicated to each other that it’d be best not to put our host out. I, however, didn’t require a planned introduction, unfortunately. While exiting one of the bathrooms, I made a quick left to head back to Evan’s dressing room and almost knocked Lavigne over. She is quite short and I didn’t expect her to be standing there. She was having a conversation with a couple people and I turned right into them.

The initial shock of walking into a person you didn’t see is one thing. Having that “person” be the Queen Bee is quite something else. I apologized before realizing who it was and did a double take on the spot. I awkwardly said “hello”, then nodded goodbye and headed off in search of my host. It was then I realized my fly was open. Score.

Evan played a short acoustic set to start the evening off. He was followed by Cab and The New Cities. Both bands were pretty good. Not my usual fare but enjoyable nonetheless. I noticed two things about the crowd. Firstly, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of people there. Put it this way: you could see a lot of empty seats. However, the second thing I noticed about the crowd was just how much her fans love her. I have never really disliked her music and apart from brief encounters outside a Rogers Arena bathroom, I don’t know her at all and couldn’t fairly form an opinion of her. I will say this though: she is a very beautiful in person and can really sing.

I got a chance to talk with her bus driver and he showed me around the outside of her bus. It’s a $1.5 million monster. And it’s exactly what you would expect a $1.5 million tour bus to be. These are the things I love about “access”. I’d love to sit down for a meal with someone like Lavigne if asked, but meeting the men and women behind the scenes was a gas. I didn’t care about digging up dirt or gossip, but the miles per gallon on that bus was pretty impressive considering its size… heh.

I tried to stay out of people’s way and just enjoy myself. I did enjoy myself. Some critics have said Lavigne’s voice is a hit or miss. I’ve never found that to be the case and she was certainly hitting that night. The odds of me purchasing her new album are pretty slim, but I have to admit that it’s been seven days and I’m still humming her songs.

Avril Lavigne as seen from backstage at Rogers Arena


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