111103 moe./nero, Toronto, ON

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In the late summer of 2003 nero played at the moe.down festival in Turin, New York.  A light afternoon rain had encouraged the entire crowd to leave the main stage area and cram themselves under the roofed second stage tent just in time for nero’s set in there, and the band had absolutely killed it in front of a very, very appreciative and somewhat shocked audience.  nero had not been playing shows in the United States for very long at this point; much of the American crowd had never heard of the band before and it seemed like they were unprepared for such a seasoned, raging pile of music.  

nero was hungry for blood and they were getting it from a thousand dancing music freaks.  I recall seeing the stage from about a hundred yards away.  I stopped and stared at the seething crowd with a swelling heart as the band jammed into Pink Floyd’s Run Like Hell.  Unsolicited, the crowd all started singing the lyrics that nero left out, being the instrumental group they were; it was a beautiful thing to behold.  I knew this set was going to mark nero’s first real clawhook into the US market and I was very interested in capitalizing on the momentum they were about to get from it.

I had heard that moe. was planning a tour that was to include a short Canadian run.  I really wanted nero opening as many of those shows as possible, especially dates in the US.  Late in the weekend I managed to get moe.’s manager Topper to myself and I did my salesman’s best to convince him that having nero on the bill would definitely pack their Canadian dates, and we sure would appreciate a few plays south of the border in return for the favour thank-you very much.  

A few weeks later we got the call: nero would be supporting moe. for their three Canadian concerts and one in Burlington, Vermont.  

November 11th, 2003 was the first night of the four-show run.  I was a little disappointed that the band would only be playing one of the four dates in the US, but only a little.  It was a start, and nero did end up playing more dates with moe. in the US later on so there you go.

This one was in Toronto at the Phoenix.  This might have been my first time at The Phoenix – I’m not sure – but I do remember that there was a lineup outside the bar and a lot of friendly, familiar faces inside.  The place was packed and I spent most of the evening in the balcony (moe.’s merch guy put nero’s stuff up next to theirs so I was free to wander).  

I vaguely recall squeezing in to the small backstage area to try and get to know the moe. guys a bit better before (or was it after?) the show.  I’ve never been a huge fan of their music but the guys in the band are totally stand-up dudes; very friendly and welcoming, and no pretensions at all.  I was glad to see it, as I was certainly hoping nero would be spending more and more time with these guys in the future.  

I don’t remember too much about what went on after the show but I’m sure there must have been some parties happening.  This was our territory and there had been a huge turnout of nero fans at the show.  People that had been following the little-Ontario-band-that-could for years were seeing the same thing I was seeing in this string of moe. dates: that their boys were on the verge of taking a pretty big step up in the scene, and we were all excited to be there and to be a part of it.

So yeah, it was probably a late night.

(I debated whether or not to include these four shows among these ticket stories.  As their manager I saw hundreds of nero shows and wrote logs about many of them but for some reason I don’t feel like they belong here amongst these ticket tales of mine.  Maybe it’s because at the heart of it, when I was at a nero show I was at work, no matter how much fun I was having.  In the end I’ve decided to write these four shows up for two reasons: 1) moe. is a pretty big band and I suppose even though I was there because of my “job” these were, after all, concerts, and 2) for some reason I didn’t write logs for this run of shows back in the day and I wish I had’ve, so these four ticket stories will have to act as surrogate logs in retrospect of a perfectly tense future, or something to that effect.)

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