Look at These Photographs: Nickelback's NMC Exhibition Is How They Remind You of Who They Really Are

Fans (and haters) can finally learn what the hell was on Joey's head
Look at These Photographs: Nickelback's NMC Exhibition Is How They Remind You of Who They Really Are
Photo: Dana Zuk
Alberta has been leaning into its pop culture strengths lately. Whether it's providing the background for the zombie infestation in The Last of Us or hosting the latest JUNO Awards, the province is primed to continue doing some big things in music, movies and TV in 2023.

Case in point: the new Nickelback exhibition at the National Music Centre in Calgary. Unless you're a skier, it might sound unappealing to visit Alberta in chilly-ass March. Luckily, your good pals in Nickelback are here to (quite literally) light up your winter. On March 9, the NMC debuted a new exhibition featuring the heroes from Hanna, AB.

The Nickelback exhibit at the Canadian Music Hall of Fame features everything from the band's instruments to outfits worn in music videos to a giant 20-foot video wall featuring never-before-seen content from the band's long career.

"I think the opening went better than expected," says Jesse Moffatt, Director of Exhibitions and Collections for the National Music Centre. "It was a really sweet moment to see some of the fans showing up on opening day."

The genesis of the exhibit came from the news that Nickelback would be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame at the JUNO Awards this past weekend in Edmonton.

"Every year, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame inducts a new inductee, and when they do so, we create the exhibition," explains Moffatt. "So, we've been working with CARAS, who does the inductions since last year, on the creation of this new exhibition. As a proud Albertan, it was really great to hear that Nickelback was being inducted, and the process probably started last October."

From there, Moffatt and his team at NMC interviewed the band and started developing themes on the narrative they wanted the exhibit to tell. He says the band and those in their inner circle were very hands-on and great to work with.

"They were extremely supportive. I would say that it was a lot of fun working with them and their manager, particularly their road manager. We ended up getting a few shipments of artifacts for the exhibit. One shipment came from the guys' personal items that they had amassed over the years, and then also another shipment of equipment that had been used in past albums or recordings or that had been used on the road."

Photo: Emily Holloway

Walking into the exhibit, attendees will immediately notice some sharply dressed mannequins. On display are the clean-cut suits and shimmering equipment the band used in the 2015 music video "She Keeps Me Up," directed by British filmmaker Nigel Dick, who's also worked with Guns N' Roses, Celine Dion and Britney Spears.

Guitar aficionados will dig the space for its unique and rare models. There's a limited-edition Gibson Longhorn double-cut solid body that frontman Chad Kroeger used on the Dark Horse and Here and Now tours, as well as a Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar Kroeger used in the video for "Photograph," among others.

Photo: Emily Holloway

Speaking of "Photograph," fans who visit the NMC will finally get an answer to the question that has plagued Nickelback lore for so long: what the hell is on Joey's head?

Moffatt got some insight into the answer early on: "I got a text message from their road manager saying, 'Hey, I got something really cool. What do you think about 'What the hell is on Joey's head'? And it took me a second to be like, 'What is he talking about'?"

The artifact in question is a champagne bucket that appears in a picture Kroeger holds up in the opening lines of the "Photograph" video. The picture is from a New Year's Eve party when friend of the band, Rob Mackie, lifted the bucket and put it on the head of Joey Moi, another friend of the band.

"Having that champagne bucket on exhibit is, in my opinion, one of the most iconic pieces."

Photo: Brett Cassidy

The band's sense of humour certainly shines throughout the exhibit, with tour itinerary books featuring more goofy pics from incoherent nights out, and tour laminates featuring characters like Ron Burgundy from the Anchorman movies and Jesus Quintana from The Big Lebowski.

Love 'em or hate 'em, Nickelback are surging forward in 2023. They're hitting the road in June in support of their latest hilarious album, Get Rollin', and everyone from Lights to Ryan Reynolds to DijahSB is taking notice.

Ultimately, the guys in Nickelback are just a bunch of down-to-earth dudes who want to keep doing what they do best. The exhibition is how they remind you of what they really are: four guys with a passion for music, a sense of humour and a love of their fans.

"When we did the interview, I was just amazed at how humble they are. They truly are. They're just in it to make the music. They want to make great music for their fans," Moffatt notes. "I think it's going to be a great experience for most people, and I hope they enjoy it."

Whether you're a genuine fan or just relish an opportunity to feed your curiosity, the Nickelback exhibit at the National Music Centre is well worth the price of admission. It's running until February 2024, so if you miss it, that's just, ahem, "Too Bad."

Photo: Kaden Chynoweth