What: Rockin' The Regulars
When: Thursday, Feb. 11, 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $8 in advance, $7 Club Shred members, $10 at the door
Whistlerites have never needed much of an excuse to party but there's a big five-ringed reason heading straight our way and the first of many epic shakers takes place this coming Thursday night.
Leigh Edwards is night manager at Merlin's. In the past two years at the beloved Upper Village hotspot, he's watched the community weather the trials and tribulations that have come along with the lead up to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now, as opening day approaches, the mood is starting to change.
"It's funny, there's obviously been a lot of negativity about (the Olympics) over the past say three or four weeks, but now that people are starting to see marquees go up and VANOC roll into town and the media and helicopters, there's now sort of an aura of excitement around," Edwards said. "The inconvenience factor's gone out of it."
"Personally, I'm jumpin' out of my skin!" the Australian said with a laugh. "I think it's going to be brilliant!"
Though there are sure to be plenty of parties on offer in the coming weeks, Edwards realized that many would only be accessible to VIPs - media, visitors, athletes and sponsors - with many local residents left out in the cold (quite literally) waiting in line, or working straight through the Games.
"I've got a folder at work full of VIP tickets - every single person in this town has got a different type of VIP pass," he joked, adding that Merlin's staff just had a meeting on the 15 types of VIP passes they need to be on the lookout for.
While they'll definitely be open to the public during the Games, they will be giving priority to VIP pass holders.
"It's going to be so hard to let your liftie or your dishwasher from the Roundhouse in or whatever because so many of the VIPs are actually sort of priority," he explained.
To recognize the hard work and patience of locals, Edwards and his fellow staff at Merlin's are gearing up to host the ultimate pre-Olympic party for the masses.
"So many members of the public can't get tickets, so they're working or have made travel arrangements, that sort of thing," he explained. "So the idea was to really blow the lid off Merlin's the night before and we were lucky to score a big band in NOW."
"Rockin' the Regulars" will offer residents an affordable way to start the Olympics off with a real bang on Olympic Eve (Thursday, Feb. 11). The night will include three musical acts and, of course, an Olympic theme. People are encouraged to dress accordingly.
"The theme for the night is Olympics, and I've told people to interpret that as they wish. You can come as a mascot, you can come as a bobsledder, you can come as a VANOC official," he trailed off.
One of the more creative costume concepts he's heard so far has been a "drug cheat" (someone in a muscle suit with syringes hanging from the arms).
Headlining the night is No Other Way (NOW), an Ottawa-based punk, '80s metal and thrash-rock band that has gotten a lot of play on MuchMusic for their song Hollywood Horror Show. NOW has been interested in performing in Whistler for a while, so when this pre-Olympic gig came along they bit.
"I was looking for a big act and it just so happened that the phone rang that day," Edwards explained.
Taking the stage at 10:30 p.m., they'll play an intense blend of hard rock, metal and punk that's been handpicked to get the masses amped up and ready to party.
Two local bands - Brother Twang and The Tell Tales - have also been tapped to perform that night, playing a blend of classic covers ranging from Jack Black to Motorhead, plus a few originals thrown in to keep things interesting.
"We've got full sound production, so we're gonna lift the lid off Merlin's that night!" Edwards said.