On January 15th, 1997 I drove to Montreal to see Tricky at the Spectrum. A hard-grinding rap artist like Tricky would normally have been well off of my radar but I was dating a girl with a very good, eclectic musical foundation that she eagerly shared with me. It was through Christine that I was first introduced to Bill Frisell, Charlie Hunter, Apocalyptica, lounge music, and the aforementioned Tricky.
This was a quick in-and-out to Montreal so when we went for drinks before the show I had a single pint and by the time we took our seats in the front row of the balcony at The Spectrum I was only drinking coffee. I was prepped for a quick ride home after the show so we could both work in the morning and I was sober.
There was a dj opening the show that didn’t interest me at all. But when Tricky came onstage all dark and forbidding I was instantly drawn in. The music was pitched so low on the hertz scale I swear it was almost below the level of human hearing. Even so it was loud, but I’m sure the music was even louder than it seemed, thundering through the nightclub with slow vibrations that were felt more than heard.
Halfway through the second song I started feeling very odd, kind of sweaty and nauseous. Without a word to Christine (like she would have heard me anyway) I got up and went to the restroom at the back of the balcony.
The bathroom door was propped open with fluorescent light spilling out into the hallway.. As I reached the threshold of the door my legs gave way entirely and I crashed to the tiled floor, my glasses shattering on the tiles beside me. There were a couple of guys in there washing their hands. They jumped forward and helped me up and I went into a stall to sit down.
As I sat there poking the broken glass out of one lens of my glasses I gave myself a little once-over and realized I was 100% completely fine. I didn’t feel sick or overheated anymore and as I tentatively stood up I noticed I wasn’t at all dizzy. Confused, half-blind, but otherwise okay I went back to my seat and yelled in Christine’s ear telling her what happened.
Though I was worried about how I was going to safely drive us home after the show I really liked the rest of the concert. Halfway through Christine got up to go to the WC and she only got halfway there when she hit the floor as well. People thought she was drunk but she wasn’t. She came back and told me what happened, we finished out the show without leaving our seats again and tentatively walked our shaken selves out of there at the end of the night.
We were forced to find a cheap motel room for the night and in the morning we both called in sick and I drove us back to Ottawa nice and slow in the relative safety of daylight: one hand on the road, one hand on the wheel, Helen Keller-style.
For years I accused Tricky of assaulting me, but I ultimately discovered we may have suffered a vagal nerve response, like when someone faints at the sight of blood. Still, I’ve never seen Tricky again and I’m not sure I would.