A couple days ago, Lion Bear Fox played the historic Imperial Theatre in beautiful Saint John NB. The thing about this particular performance was that they couldn’t say anything about it. We had known about it for months and had to keep our lips sealed…which was, if you know us at all, a difficult challenge. Here is the story... straight from the Lion's mouth...
This time last year the Imperial began a new style of show, a Secret Show! All advertisements and announcements would only display the date and any one coming to the show would be none the wiser to who the performer is. It was a success first time around, a fun way of introducing audiences to new music and we were booked for the second one in their history.
The theatre is absolutely stunning, the staff and crew were all immensely hospitable and fun to work with. Very important factors when you’re so far away from home and from the comforts of anything familiar. We began load in and It is at this point we learn of one final tiny detail. Four hundred and eleven tickets had been sold, everyone who bought a ticket knew they’re in for a surprise. Also if for any reason they are not satisfied with the entertainment, they have the opportunity within the first 20 min to walk out, receive a full refund and be on their merry way.
So all of a sudden what was an interesting premise turned into the audition of a lifetime. We’re no stranger to high pressure situations or an unexpected surprise, we tour our great nation on a constant basis and the kinds of things we face from time to time would terrify most. This particular twist was like we had to perform for an immensely diverse focus group of over four hundred people, who have most likely never heard of us simply on a geographical level. We absorb the news with reluctant ease, to keep our head in the game so to speak, because it was also a huge opportunity to invite new people into our lives, art and souls.
The organizer told us 50 people walked out the year before, the walk outs were still pleased with the overall experience, just not their cup of tea. Any one walking out is certainly not something we would want to face, people waking out on you because they rejected the sharing your deepest vulnerabilities through an audible art-form is not awesome plain and simple.
We take the stage, they announce our name, the audience goes nuts. We open with All I Ever Do, an old familiar that we find great to warm up an audience that may not know our story and sure enough the first set went off without a hitch. I always like to stare at the audience, like I'm shopping for produce, it’s a very sensual process. During our set not once did I see a noticeable amount of folks walking out.
We walk off from the first set beaming with nervous enthusiasm, eagerly anticipating the news o show our audition went. We were greeted by the organizer shortly after. They shared with us that they fibbed about the number of walks outs the year previous because they didn’t want to freak us out, which apparently was 85 people. Now for us, it’s something that I’m awkwardly proud of, I mean you don’t want anyone to walk out on your show but it happens even when someone knows who they're seeing.
We were told four hundred and eleven tickets were sold and only nine of them walked out. We had one of our biggest merchandise nights ever and made many new friends and fans! All in all, when we are presented with an unexpected twist, we attack it the same way we always do, with grace, confidence and purpose. We give all of ourselves on and off the stage, no smoke & mirrors, we aim to be ourselves and have a good time with all the folks we meet. I feel confidence in saying that because I’ve garnered enough evidence and feedback through the years to support my claim.
Truly an unforgettable experience and we can’t wait to go back. Here’s to the amazing staff and crew at the Imperial. Also much love to the four hundred plus people of Saint John who on a very cold day in February took a chance on a secret show out of fun and because they support the arts. Our world needs more human connection, arts of any medium have always been an effective path and truly our night there was nothing short of magic.