Cheap Trick @ Sycuan Casino

Cheap Trick played at Sycuan Casino on September 23rd 2004 in the Showcase Theater which holds about 450 people. I have to say that this was one of the best Cheap Trick shows I have witnessed. They played a collection of their hits ranging from early in their career to their latest studio album “Special One”. What made this show so good was I have never seen the band (mostly Rick Nielsen) have so much fun and they were full of energy! For a band that has been touring for over 30 years, this was truly amazing.

During the show, Rick was constantly bouncing around the stage and skipping back and forth smiling just about the entire time. Sure, he has always been the character of the group, but I have not seen him like this for a long time. Did he down a case of Red Bull before coming on stage? For most of the show, he was pre-occupied with throwing guitar picks into the audience. Yes, he does this at every show, but never like this. As some points he barely made it to microphone for his backup vocal duties.

There were two security guards positioned at the left and right sides of the stage. Rick would skip over to them and pelt them in the back of the head with a pick (I found this pretty funny). He did this multiple times. Rick also enjoyed spending time launching picks down women’s shirts that happen to be in the first two rows. The riser that Rick stands on during different parts of the show seems to be covered with picks which at various parts he would just swipe thirty or more picks at a time into the audience. I believe he was frustrated that the picks were not coming off his microphone stand correctly and he would rip about ten or more at a time off of it, most went flying straight up into the air. I stood there wondering to myself how many custom picks he has to order a year for the Cheap Trick concerts.

After one song I saw something that I could not believe and made most members in the audience gasp. Before I tell what happened, I need to say that Rick plays a different guitar on every song (you never seem the same guitar twice during a show). I would say that all of them are either custom made or vintage guitars. After this song he walked up to the front of the stage and took off the guitar and handed it to a woman in the front row (this is what made everyone gasp). She actually hesitated to even take it at first. As soon as he walked to the side of the stage to get his next guitar, his guitar rodie came and got it from her. I got the feeling that he knew this woman and her boyfriend. Also at a few points in the show he let people touch his guitar while he was playing it and even strum the strings. I have never seem him do this before.

During the pause between songs, some guy somehow got Robin Zander’s attention and started talking to him. Rick came over and pointed an audience microphone at him (which was not hooked up to the main speakers). I think this guy was saying something about how great Cheap Trick was and it saved his life or something. I’m not really sure. Rick finally walked away twirling his finger around his ear… indicating the guy is crazy. After another song or two this same guy got Tom Peterson’s attention and started talking to him too. Both Robin and Tom were very polite about the whole thing.

Rick call the Sycuan theater a “mini theater” one time when he was talking to the audience. During another time, in typical Rick silliness fashion, he made fun of the Sycuan name. He call it “Suck One”. After he said this the second time, some woman in the front row that did not get that was making fun of it, corrected him. It was funny!

The show lasted the typical Cheap Trick length of one hour and seventeen minutes. The only thing negative I could say is that Robin’s voice mix though the speakers could have been better. I really liked the Sycuan theater because the seats were stadium theater style just like at the newer movie theaters and went right up to the stage. This made for a very intimate setting (I was in the 6th row). What I didn’t like about Sycuan is that it’s difficult to get to and if you want to have a beer or two before the show… forget it. They don’t serve alcohol at the casino at all.

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