By Andrea Nene and Erin Kobayashi
Big Sugar’s concert at Reilly’s Restaurant went out with a band last Thursday—or rather, with a twang.
A hell of a loud twang.
The Neill-Wycik-only crowd of just under 200 “had their way” and rocked with guitarist Gordie Johnson, bassist Garry Lowe and keyboardist Kelly Hoppe.
The crowd was smaller than expected for the Sept. 7 show, with just over one quarter of the residence’s 700 occupants attending.
“The show would have been better if we’d had more input into who the band was,” said Andrea Rimbault, a fourth-year early childhood education student.
Residents’ rental fees funded the concert. Six dollars of their fees goes toward monthly activities such as functions in the party room and, occasionally, larger events such as the Big Sugar concert.
Organizers spent three months pinning down the act, during which Wycik management and booking agents played phone tag trying to negotiate times and venues.
A disappointment Russ Johnston, Neill Wycik’s events co-ordinator and a fourth-year business management student, had been hoping for a much larger turnout.
He would not disclose how much the band was paid to play.
Johnston attributed the paltry crowd to other Thursday night pub nights at competing bars in the neighbourhood.
“These things happen,” he said. He was glad to see, however, that many of those who did attend had a good time.
The country décor at Reilly’s seemed fitting for the lead singer Gordie Johnson and the rest of the band, who were sporting southern, cowboy-esque outfits onstage. Kevin Carney of The New Prize Fighters, a band that played earlier in the day on Neill Wycik’s rooftop, was less than impressed, calling the concert “a booze-infested, overheated, decibel-busting evening.”
Big Wreck’s lead vocalist, Ian Thornley, made an appearance, singing a few verses of Big Sugar’s “If I Had My Way.” Johnson returned the favour, singing the chorus from Big Wreck’s “That Song.”
The concert ended with a six-song encore followed by a memorable guitar solo. The band then knocked off a version of “O Canada” à la Big Sugar, as the crowd waved their beers in the air under a sky of spotlights.
Second-year resident and retail management student Andrea Schincariol believed the lighting may have been a subliminal beer product push: “I think they are trying to get us to drink more Labatt products,” she said.