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Trickfest 1, Chicago - August 1995 (A.M.CT Review)

My first trip to the USA !

Set out from home on Sun 20 Aug at 11pm. Was going to have to spend the night at Manchester Airport since the flights next morning were early. Got no sleep overnight, though the boredom was broken by the arrival of Mike Hayes around 2.20am. Took off from Manchester at 7am, and connected with a mid morning flight from London Gatwick to Dallas. It was a long flight, particularly stuck in the middle seats of the plane. Got no sleep on the plane.

On exiting the Dallas/Fort Worth terminal, we walked into almost 100 degree heat, it was like a furnace ! I got to bed very late that night, but slept pretty well too, considering I’d had no sleep for over 40 hours ! Had a day to rest up, before we flew up to Chicago on Tues 22 Aug with John Candas. Took a bus shuttle from Midway to O’Hare early evening, and it was incredible to see and drive past the Chicago downtown skyline ! Checked into the O’Hare Ramada Hotel mid evening, which was where TF was being held. Weds 23 Aug was a quiet, free day.

Thursday 24 Aug

The big day… launch day of Windows 95 … ooops ! No, really, it was TRICKFEST DAY ! The event was being held in the 9th Floor ballroom, complete with chandelier ! A quick breakfast in the McDonalds opposite, before getting back and helping set up merchandise.

Doors opened mid morning, and the 250 (approx) attendees were allowed in. On entering the ballroom proper, there were glass windows around 3 sides of the large room, with views onto O’Hare airport. In the rear right hand corner was the stage, a small, low affair, with about 15 rows of seating in front. Along the rest of the right hand side, and round the corner a little were the tables set up for merchandise. In the far right corner, behind some of the merchandise tables, was a large screen showing live videos throughout the day, though sadly the room was too light for them to be very visible.

Along part of the rear of the room was a raised platform area, where the band came to sit for the first activity of the day, the autograph line. That went on for over 3 hours, before the band took a lunch break. During that time, the line stretched round the room and in front of the merchandise tables. But the band didn’t leave until every last autograph had been given !

After lunch it was photoshoot time. There was a small balcony to the side of the entrance to the ballroom proper, and it was up there that the old Dream Police stage backdrop had been hung (as best as possible in a limited space), and attendees had their photo taken with the band in front of that. The photoshoot took another 3 hours or so, then the band come down and immediately played the soundcheck, which they let everyone sit in for !


Let Her Go, Girlfriends, I’ve Always Got You

After that, both both the band and the attendees had time to grab a bite to eat before the All Request show later in the evening.

The band came on stage shortly before 8am, to a warm welcome for what was a unique event in a very intimate setting. Rick explained the format, that they’d play 2 or 3 songs, then take some questions from the floor, then play more songs and so on. The set list was as follows:

Down Down (Downed), Borderline, Come On Come On


Loser, She’s Tight, I Can’t Take It, Taxman


Fan Club, On Top of the World


I’ve Always Got You (part), Mandocello, Voices

(CT take break; Tod Howarth – Flower in the Fold)


I Need Love, Big Eyes, Ballad of TV Violence, I Was a Fool, ELO Kiddies


Oh Caroline, Bite It (Rick vox)


High Roller, Day Tripper, Surrender

There were no special guests, though CT’s touring keyboard player Tod Howarth played a song from his solo album when the band took a mid set break. Cheap Trick played a fantastic set, well received, and the band looked to enjoy every minute ! The giant stage backdrop for the Lap of Luxury tour was draped behind the stage.

At the end, around 11.25 pm, most fans packed the hotel’s Sports Bar, and were delighted to be joined by Bun E and Rick a little later. Robin came down soon after, but was quickly surrounded by a swarm of fans in the lobby for over an hour, so he didn’t even make it to the bar !

As I recall, attendee’s came to Fest from all over the USA, Canada, Japan, England, Germany and New Zealand.

Friday 25 Aug – Champaign/Urbana

The next day was another hot and sunny one, and a free day until the afternoon. I suspect many others, like me, slept in after the long night before. Part of the Trickfest package was to go to two nearby shows on the two days following the actual Fest. So at just after 4pm, we found ourselves on a coach, heading south out of Chicago to the university towns of Champaign/Urbana. After finally clearing the miles and miles of concrete highways in sprawling urban Chicago, we headed through green countryside, increasingly seeing cornfields. It was somewhat worrying that throughout the journey, the driver expressed doubts that he even knew where we were going ! But at 6.45, in the midst of miles of cornfields, we turned off into what appeared to be just another cornfield, until we saw it was a small roadside restaurant (TK Wendl’s) and a Little League baseball diamond, taken over by a large food & drink tent and stage. This was where tonights show was taking place.

In the late sunshine, early arrivals had already brought blankets and garden chairs, and were drinking and eating picnics, burgers and hot dogs. Soon after we arrived, Chicago area club band Off Broadway came on stage to open the show. They were OK. At 8.30, one of the two Japanese fans at Trickfest walked on stage and introduced the band in Japanese (Rick later informed the crowd that this guy had been at the original Budokan shows !). Cheap Trick took to the stage and played a 70 minute set :-

California Man, He’s a Whore, Girlfriends, IWYTWM, Woke Up with a Monster, Southern Girls, TV Violence, Heaven Tonight, Magical Mystery Tour, Flame, Ain’t That a Shame, Surrender, Auf Wiedersehen, Dream Police, Goodnight

We left the now dark cornfields of mid-Illinois soon after 10pm, to take us back to the Ramada O’Hare.

Saturday 26 Aug – Merrillville IN

Another free day, and many people took the opportunity to head into downtown Chicago, before we got the coach at 6pm to Merrillville, Indiana. This was to be a much shorter ride than Champaign. 70 minutes later we arrived at the Star Plaza in Merrillville, a very nice, plush, mid sized theatre. The bill tonight was Off Broadway, Loverboy and Cheap Trick. I sat in for Off Broadway and liked them more. Loverboy sounded terrible, and many CT fans spent their set outside the theatre ! Cheap Trick came on, to play a slightly different set than at Champaign the previous night:-

Hello There, Come On Come On, He’s a Whore, Girlfriends, IWYTWM, Woke Up with a Monster, Southern Girls, Heaven Tonight, MM Tour, Aint That a Shame, Voices, Flame, Dream Police, Surrender, I Know What I Want, Goodnight

Afterwards was a "Meet’n’Greet which turned into another autograph and photo session ! We left Merrillville a little after midnight, back at the O’Hare hotel by 1.20 am, and were delighted to get a private visit from Jon Brant, on his way back home to Rockford. He was very pleasant, staying to chat for an hour. A really nice guy.

Sunday 27 Aug – Pine Knob, Clarksville MI

Most people who had booked for Fest and the following two local show’s headed home today. Not us ! We had one more to go, so Sunday morning saw us (John C, Mike H, myself) head out early to Midway Airport and a mid morning flight to Detroit. We landed at midday, got a hire car, and headed (past that giant car tyre near the airport) into Detroit and out towards Clarkston. Due to construction, we ended up on the wrong road, but eventually passed the Pontiac Silverdome, and reached our hotel. Mid afternoon, we walked to the MacDonalds next door to get food…. to join a line waiting to be served, and only two people working. This turned out to be the world’s worst MacDonalds, as we waited around 25 minutes just to get our order taken, and perhaps another 20 for our food to arrive. Early on in our wait, someone in front of us demanded to see the manager, who was pretty brusque and reluctantly gave the MacDonalds HQ address. She disappeared out back for a few minutes, then came back out. "Good" we thought, she’s finally coming out to help her beleagured team clear the long line of irate customers. We expected her to serve, or prepare food or something. Instead, she donned her coat, and walked out. She got into a car with her boyfriend, and drove off ! Amazing. And American service at its worst.

Late afternoon we drove to the Pine Knob outdoor music theatre, an impressive outdoor amphitheatre. This show was to be a treat for me, watching from sidestage (Robin’s side) for the first time. Fantastic. Unfortunately this was another double header with Loverboy, and the bands were alternating "headliner" status. So people were still coming in during Cheap Trick’s set…..

Hello There, He’s a Whore, Girlfriends, IWYTWM, Woke Up with a Monster, Southern Girls, TV Violence, Heaven Tonight, MM Tour, Flame, Ain’t That a Shame, Surrender, Voices, Dream Police, Goodnight

Nice to get a little time to talk to the band afterwards, whilst Loverboy noisily continued the evening. Cheap Trick headed off in the tour bus to Syracuse, NY (where they parted company with manager Ken Adamany a couple of days later), whilst we headed back to our hotel. Yet another poor MacDonalds eating experience before bed.

Monday morning saw us fly back to Dallas from Detroit, heading back to 105 degree temperatures. Had a free day on Tuesday, but which included a wonderful evening meal at Sonny Bryans Smokehouse in downtown Dallas. Recommended !

Wednesday saw Mike and I depart Dallas-Fort Worth to fly back to England. We arrived at London Gatwick early Thursday morning, and connected with a flight to Manchester. On arrival, I was pleased to see that my suitcase arrived, but unfortunately Mike’s didn’t. I left him awaiting the arrival of the next London flight, whilst I headed to Leeds and home. Early that evening I encountered jetlag for the first time, going to bed exhausted around 7.30pm, and sleeping the sleep of the dead until being woken at after 2pm the next afternoon !

A wonderful trip, 4 days of Cheap Trick, and my first taste of America ! Fantastic !


This Site and all material held within it are Copyright by Kim Gisborne