All of the winners and most of the press stayed in Inuvik for two days, flew to Tuk three hours before the concert and left immediately after the show. I felt sorry for them. Sure, they were warm, well-fed and soused on complimentary beer, but they missed out on the sight of rock stars roaming the short streets of an Eskimo hamlet. Most of the musicians stayed in town.

The day before the show, I ran across Courtney Love and asked her about her days as a stripper in Anchorage during the late Eighties. "Well, I worked at a place called PJs (a biker bar) and another called the Crazy Horse. I was bored shitless, but it was good for me. I hung out at the skate shop and there was a really great Value Village [a thrift store]."

Ursula, a member of the Portland band Candy 500, started to tease Love about being a stripper. "You bitch," Hole's singer shot back, "can't you leave that alone for ten hours?" Love turned back to me. "'Pour Some Sugar on Me' was my biggest moneymaker," she said, then sang a few bars of Def Leppard's cheese-metal sex anthem. Love posed for a photo with Rachel and signed an autograph "Courtney Love Cobain."

Later, I struck up a conversation with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and asked him for his take on Tuk. "You know, I really didn't come up here with any expectations," he said. "The people seem really excited. We've definitely played in places that were less excited, so this is really all right."

Ulrich laughed about playing under a Molson banner in a town where it's legal to drink but not to buy or sell the company's product. "That's the paradox," he said. "At the end of the day, I don't think it matters to the kids who the sponsor is. It could have been Exxon or some insurance company and these kids wouldn't give a shit. I'm glad they're having fun."

The word on the streets of Tuk was that Ulrich and Courtney Love suffered from a personality clash that had erupted in several verbal firefights in the halls of Tuktoyutuk Inn. Asked about his hotel mate, Ulrich replied, "Most conceited person in the world."

I told him about the graffiti on the old school and he seemed impressed. "We're really popular up north."

Prior to the contest drawing, hundreds of Alaskans called Molson corporate headquarters to inquire about access to the show. The response was always the same: "Stay away." The company line was that no one but Tuk natives and contest winners would be admitted to the event--no matter how far you drove to get there.

Most would-be beach partyers evidently took Molson at its word. Shortly before the concert was scheduled to begin, however, those of us who had decided to call the beer company's bluff gathered outside the makeshift venue: a custom-built, clover-shaped tent. Heated, of course.

It didn't look good. Burly security guards from Edmonton, Alberta, barred our entry. Dejected, we stood shuffling our feet in the cold as the concert began. It started to snow.

Local dancers and drummers opened the show, followed by the Canadian power pop band Moist.

The sound of live rock coming from the tent spurred my fellow gatecrashers to action, and they used markers and scrap wood to hastily construct pickets that read, "Let Us In," "We 'Got Up Here'," and "Molson Sucks."

A Canadian camera crew came over and started to set up for interviews. Within seconds, we were all ushered in to the show.

Inside the white tent, multicolored lights flashed, and the Molson Ice Beach Party logo revolved on the ceiling. After Moist's set, Molson's vice president of marketing presented the village's mayor with a check for $35,000 Canadian. The mayor said the money was earmarked for a new youth center.

Veruca Salt front women Nena Gordon and Louise Post came onstage in matching aqua suede jackets with enormous fake-fur collars and sleeves.

"This song is for the girls of Tuktoyuktuk," Post announced as the band kicked into its hit, "Seether." The girls of Tuktoyuktuk screamed.

I moved to the front of the crowd for Hole. A local guy who had given me a ride across town in the back of his brand-new pickup handed me a dented Coke can and motioned for me to drink. The concoction was 90 percent vodka. Perfect.

The crowd chanted, "Courtney, Courtney" and lurched forward when the grunge diva stepped into the spotlight. Love wore a black negligee, black stockings and knee-high black boots--the same outfit she had on for her band's MTV Unplugged performance.

At one point, Love stopped the music to show a ring to the audience and sarcastically announce that Lars Ulrich had proposed to her. "My name will be Courtney Love Cobain Ulrich," she said, holding up the ring. "Sixty-five thousand dollars, fucking Cartier." After the set, I talked to several Canadian reporters who had believed her.

Hole played all its hits and still wouldn't leave the stage. The band did three songs that weren't on the set list and Love dove into the crowd. She seemed miffed at the audience response. "You won't mosh for us but you'll mosh for Metallica, right?"

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