'Nickelback, Rod Laver Arena' – Everguide

I went into last night’s Nickelback show at Rod Laver Arena with the same mentality I had when switching on Liz & Dick this weekend. In both cases, I tried to push my preconceived opinions on the so-called talent aside and form unbiased opinions on the work based on merit.

But just as Lindsay Lohan and her “pudgy hands” turned that movie into a mess, so too did Avril Lavigne’s betrothed and his merry band of Canadian bros confirm the world’s collective opinion that Nickelback are, in fact, terrible.

I actually wanted it to be great. I wanted to write this review as someone expecting to be disappointed, who was proven wrong and had become a convert. My first ever concert was 10 years ago when Avril brought her Complicated Sk8er Boi steez to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. I wanted to believe she had chosen a life partner whose music was worthy of the memory of that show that I hold in my head/heart.

Instead, I got an audiovisual nightmare hellscape that I documented, minute-by-excruciating-minute from the time I took my seat to the time, two hours later, when I fled Rod Laver Arena and consoled myself with a burger and onion rings in the back of a cab.

7:46pm - I arrive during the final third of support band Jackson Firebird’s set. The lyrics of this song are just, “She wants it”, “She loves it” and “She’s alright” over and over. This stadium is already a big communal sweat party. Between songs, a guy in the standing area yells, “YOU SUCK!” I don’t think he knows where he is.

A trio of grandma, grandson and granddaughter sit in front of me, all carrying a poster from the merch stand and a light-up plastic martini glass filled with a Smirnoff slushie.

7:52 - The lyrics of this song include, “Tell you ‘bout a little rock and roll.” Okay, please do. I’m really tempted to write a detailed review of the patrons at this show, but I know it would come across as so exaggerated and cartoonish that it would discredit me.

Someone brought salami to the show.
This band is a reminder to buy shampoo #sweatbands

I see people straining to see from the nosebleed seats and feel a pang of guilt for how good my seat is.

Band: “On the count of three, yell out GO MOTHERFUCKER!”
Me: What? Why? No.
Guy next to me yells it with terrifying gumption. He has a demonic tribal tattoo design and is wearing a wedding ring. I’m single.

The last time I was at Rod Laver, I was seeing Bob Dylan. There are more people here now than there were then.


Oh shit it’s only 8pm.

Jackson Firebird finish with a raging drum solo. The singer tears off his guitar and starts walking off the stage. Then they come back sheepishly to play another song.

Voice from around the arena shout:
“YOU SUCK!” guy is back, too, doing what he does best.

8:11pm - People are taking pictures of the roadies. I just saw a girl wearing the same dress as I am. I instantly begin questioning all of my life choices.

I’m so unused to seeing people wearing baggy beanies and jackets tied around their waists in a non-ironic, non-#seapunk way. I’m starting to think the Everguide editors sent me here as a kind of experimental social cleansing experiment to make me less jaded and cynical. Maybe they read that NYTimes article. I wonder how many American Nickelback fans voted for Romney #topical

8:21 - Chad is close. We can all feel it. Made eye contact with a lady confidently mouthing the wrong words to ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’.

A lot of people here are wearing vintage Nickelback tour tees (from 2009), but even more are wearing brand new ones. When do people change into the merch they buy at these shows? The last time I changed into merchandise was when I was 13 and bought a #punk Avril t-shirt at her show.

8:27 - People are waving at the empty stage. Nickelback fan trend alert: this summer will be all about mesh tops paired with dark, loose-fitting denim.

It’s so weird seeing ladies my mum’s age wearing fluoro wristbands.


#RaveMum just showed up with nine glow rings on her fingers. Where’s the 10th one?

Watching the girl in front of me holding out her digital camera, taking a picture with flash, checking it, and repeating the process ad nauseum makes me realise what a gift front-facing cameras are to the concert-going public.


I remember reading that Avril doesn’t listen to Nickelback (LOL same gurl). I wonder where she is tonight.

8:38 - Drink every time you spot an Ed Hardy cap. #NickelbackDrinkingGame

“Remember that night we saw Nickelback!? It was amazing!” – things I lovingly imagine all my fellow audience members saying to one another for years to come. A lady with three empty, glowing martini glasses just stumbled while rocking out. It’s 8:41pm.


Married tribal bro (MTB from here on) returns to his seat after a lengthy absence (missed u boo) wearing a Nickelback cap and t-shirt from the merch table. He is standing up and posing with horn hand gestures and his tongue out.

So many people here have found #love in their lives.

8:48 - CHAD WHERE R U?

Lady in the pit is dancing like my actual mum.


Chad’s hair no longer looks like noodles! His haircut is so good. Worthy of Avril…almost. Background visuals are elaborate. The colour scheme for the night is neon green and fire.

Song #1: ‘This Means War’. Choice lyrics: “If the only thing to save/Is the banner that you wave/To be wrapped around your grave/You've gone too far!”

MTB plays along with an imaginary bass.
Chad is a man of the people.
Black leather wristbands are coming back.

Song #2: ‘Something In Your Mouth.’

This song is gross. I’m gagging. The lyrics are displayed in huge letters on the screen and include: “I love the way you dance with anybody/and tease them all by sucking on your thumb/You’re so much cooler when you never pull it out/’Cause you look so much cuter with something in your mouth.”

The stage is lit up with silhouettes of strippers.

WWAD: What Would Avril Do!? She’d say, “C U l8er boi.”

The next song is apparently about drinking (or, as they say in Canada, “A tewn aboot drinking”). This gets the crowd excited/scared when Chad compares Canadians’ ability to drink to Australians’.

Song #3: ‘Bottoms Up’. Choice lyrics: “So grab a Jim Beam, JD, whatever you need/Have a shot from the bottle, doesn't matter to me.”

Wait, are Nickelback a country band? This feels very twangy/fratty. MTB is miming drinking every time Chad sings, “Bottoms up!” Guy in front of me is singing the words at his grandmother’s face.

Chad is #sweaty. He gets up on a raised platform. This song is apparently about #reflecting.

Song #4: ‘Photograph’. I’ve heard this one before! #commercialradio

Choice lyrics: “And this is where I went to school/Most of the time had better things to do/Criminal record says I broke in twice/I must have done it half a dozen times/I wonder if it's too late/Should I go back and try to graduate”


MTB’s dance move for this song is a series of sad shrugs.
I feel happy for Chad. He’s achieved his #dreams.

Chad says it’s time for “ALCOHOL!” and the crowd goes fucking nuts. Mentioning nonspecific “naughty” things like alcohol makes me imagine he’s a 14-year-old boy talking to a girl online and trying to sound cool.

A guy called Robbie is here to play guitar. People know who he is. There is chanting. A lady has a sign. This one is apparently “for the ladies” (who were the other ones for? Was that one about a stripper sucking on her thumb not for me too?)

Song #5: ‘Far Away’

This song seems familiar. Like from the school disco or something.
Oh boy. Flashback: a boy sent me the lyrics to this song on MSN circa 2005.

Choice lyrics (AKA the ones that made teenage me swoon): “Cause with you, I'd withstand/All of hell to hold your hand/I'd give it all/I'd give for us/Give anything but I won't give up”

People are singing the words to their significant others. It’s very romantic. I relate to them on this one.

CHAD IS DOING SHOTS. Some poor soul named Bradley is given the job of bringing a tray of shots to Chad & Co.

“Here’s to more stories from Melbourne!” they cheers. MTB LOVES IT. He wishes he was poor Brad.

Chad is riffing extensively on YouTube. He seems amazed that the “stupid shit” he does can be archived somewhere. I guess no-one in Canada keeps CDs? #burn

Song #6: ‘Too Bad’

Chad wants the crowd to show their horns. MTB screams, “YOU BETTER HOP!” I don’t know what it means but I still listen to him because he’s enormous and terrifying.

Choice lyrics (each word of which the girl in front of me mime-dances): “You left without saying goodbye/Although I'm sure you tried/You'd call the house from time to time/To make sure we're alive”

I feel like I need to brush my teeth.

Song #7: ‘Animals’

MTB is rocking out so hard I’m concerned for my safety.
People’s hands are in the air. They worship at the Church of Chad.

9:28 - Brad is back with shots. This is such a frat party. The shot will apparently “make your pecker stand up”!


Song #9 is apparently a request from the front row. They play a few bars of ‘Leader of Men’ before wondering aloud how anyone knows a song that old. This causes MTB to scream “I’VE GOT EVERY ALBUM YOU OWN!” It doesn’t make sense but he’s very passionate.

Chad tells the crowd to start a band. MTB cackles like this is a preposterous suggestion. I’ve got to agree with him on this one.

Chad loves saying the word “fuck”. That makes him cool I guess?

Chad forgets what tuning his guitar needs. His bandmate tells him it’s, “close enough.” MTB screams, “GIVE IT A GO!” It’s very sweet.

Song #10 is ‘Trying Not To Love You’. I watched the bizarre, ridiculous, funny-but-not-on-purpose-I’m-pretty-sure video for it earlier in the day to prepare.

This is the 10th song I’ve sullenly sat through and, a minute in, I’m heading out of the arena, apologetically texting my Everguide editors. I did as much as I could for as long as I could. And I hated 98% of it.

Posted on Everguide, November 28, 2012.