Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oh Happiest of Days to You!

Today is Drew's 25th birthday!  He's well on his way to becoming an Oldster now!

I realised in the winter that we wouldn't be together on his birthday because it falls on a Tuesday.  So, upon realising this and finding out that the Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, and the Trews were playing a concert in Bobcaygeon called the Big Music Fest on the weekend, I decided that I would try to arrange a surprise birthday weekend for him.  Drew knew we were doing something, but didn't know what we were doing (though he got a small clue at one point, which was almost a massive spoiler, but no more on that), and I gave the barest of possible details.  All I said was that he should get himself to Toronto, and that perhaps he could pack a bathing suit, just in case. The first surprise of the weekend was the cookie-message I left on the table for him when he got in on Friday.  By the time I got home, the message was already missing its punctuation.

Drew deciding which letters to sacrifice (om nom nom)
On Saturday morning we headed out on Drew's Birthday Adventure, first to Whitby to get the car, and then we struck out along the 401.  My plan was to take a different route up to Fenelon Falls than we normally do (which is the highway 12 to 7 way from Whitby).  I thought we'd take the 115, but when we got to Oshawa and traffic got thick we dodged off the highway and headed up Simcoe.  In this, I think I succeeded in some measure in confusing Drew and throwing him off the track.  It wouldn't be long though before he started to see familiar places, and the 'Kawartha Lakes' signs on the roads, so as we scooted along a side road I asked him to get an envelope out of my bag, and open it up.  Inside, he found the tickets:

He was excited, and (at least a bit) surprised!

I had arranged for us to catch a shuttle bus from Fenelon so that we didn't have to drive out to the concert site and try to park.  I had read that there were only a small amount of parking spots at the site, and that at the off-site spots you'd park and then have to get a shuttle anyway.  So shuttle from Fenelon it was, and this way we could have some beers if we wanted to and not have to worry about driving home.  The shuttle there was fast and efficient, and full to bursting with what sounded like 75 of the most obnoxious and belligerent drunk 20 year olds ever (but which was probably only 12 of the most obnoxious and belligerent drunk 20 year olds ever).  The ride with that group killed our souls a little, and made us slightly more stupid:

Drew's soul being stolen on the Belligerent Bus of Drunk Death
The shuttles were a great idea, and worked really well on the way there.  They also got us home, though not quite as quickly as we would have liked, but only the following on that, and then no more:

Our faces if one had said to us "you're going to take a sweet shuttle full of awful screaming bros and over-tanned squealing trixies":

Me: Hm... still sounds like an OK deal to me
Drew: Ugh, bros and trixies are just so INAUTHENTIC, MAN
Our faces if one had said to us "in addition, you're going to wait for four hours after the show to get a shuttle home, because they're going to have tons of unexpected mud-related issues, and on a scale from Toronto G20 to Vancouver Stanley Cup, the crowd is going to be a hideous unruly mob somewhere in between, 'round about where we'd put Attila the Hun or France's social security protests":

Me: That's not a very good deal!
Drew: I'm going to be surrounded by them, and they're going to be ANGRY!
We arrived via shuttle at the concert site just as they were opening the gates for general admission, so we were early for the music to start.  That was fine with us; we wandered around checking out the various food stalls and making mental lists of what we were going to eat later on.  We planned out about four different food stops, but in the end we only ended up making three.  First stop was for a deep fried onion (with dipping sauce) at an extortionate but totally worth it price.  Then we wandered, talked, looked around, and finally found ourselves some clean hay to make a little hay-mat out of to sit down on and catch the acts.

Wandering around in the field

Art!  The Fenelon shuttle bracelet and my arm around Drew's shoulders
It didn't seem to take long before the bands started playing.  The first act was Miss Emily, and I wonder if they're a local band from Peterborough or something.  They were alright as a warm-up for the others as people were trickling in.  The Trews were up next, and they were great.  They started off with a few of their old songs, off of the 'House of Ill Fame' and 'Den of Thieves' albums, which every Canadian with a radio knows and can sing along to.  They are a great live band.  They also played some songs from their new album 'Hope and Ruin' (not hope then ruin, just hope and ruin, as they explained).  It was great, and Drew and I were both stoked to see them performing.

After they were done, I held down the hay as Drew went to the Kawartha Dairy stand for ice cream (that's right) and also got me a caramel drumstick (the chocolate cones, that's all I can say).

The Sam Roberts Band was next, and they are just so great live.  They also played some older songs that we all knew and sang along to, and a few from Chemical City, but mixed in tracks from their two latest albums.  Also, all the members except the drummer were wearing Double Denim (jeans and a jean shirt or jacket).  Drew and I weren't sure if that was planned as an "in your face, Canadian tuxedo" move, or if they were just being who they are (and these two things might not be totally separate), but anyway, we agreed that Sam can rock the DD like few others can.  Inspirational!  We bought a 'Love at the End of the World' LP at the merch tent after listening to them.  They have so much energy on stage, and really interesting music as well.

Sam, on stage and on screen, doing his jean-jacket thang

Drew enjoying the show!  

Me, also enjoying the show!
After the Sam Roberts Band, we rolled up our hay, tucked it under our arms, and went for our LP and to get burgers from a little wooden burger trailer.  They were delicious.  The food on offer was outstanding - there was even a pizza cart with a real miniature clay pizza oven that they were firing people's pizzas in.  Smashing!

We made it back to our spot, and found Emma and her boyfriend Matt, just as the Tragically Hip were starting.  We listened to the first couple of songs from our hay while we ate, but stood up and joined the crowd after that.  They were so fantastic.  Pretty much every Canadian knows a good ten to fifteen Hip songs, even if they don't realise that they are Hip songs (a bit like the Beatles that way), but no matter how many times you hear one of their songs on the radio, it's just not as good as it is in concert.  They tweak the songs in just the slightest of ways each time they play them, which is just what it takes to keep a 20 year-old song sounding fresh and fun to listen to in concert.  They played some of their classics, like 'Ahead by a Century', which is Drew's favourite too.  Gord Downie still hasn't got any stage moves, but you can't argue with his energy or ability to pump up a crowd.  

Us, with the Hip playing behind us
They were fantastic, and played straight through for two hours with basically zero stage chatter.  The crowning moment of the show was when Gord said that it was a special place and a special night, and they played 'Bobcaygeon'.  Every one sang, everyone had their Blackberries out, held up high to record the song, with their little red lights blinking.  I could barely hear Gord at some points because the crowd sang so loud together, and he stopped from time to time too, to encourage the crowd along.  It was awesome, and it's really cool that we got to be there to experience that show.

Us watching the Hip (and bobbing along with the music, though you can't tell here)
We flopped into bed exhausted when we got home, and curled up together to warm up and sleep deeply.  We woke up to doggies, coffee in bed, and a lovely Champagne Brunch for Drew's birthday with Mum, Stewart, and Gran.  We picked strawberries at a farm on our way back to Toronto.  All in all, a great birthday weekend adventure, full of fun and small surprises.

Happy Birthday Drew!  I hope today, and every other day, is wonderful, fun, warm, and bright (just like you).

1 comment:

  1. i sure do like you two.