Rex Frick, guitarist and lead vocalist
of the band Frick and Frack
was really in his prime before that night.
Their second album, Frickula and Frackenstein,
had just been released and was already
topping the charts, inspiring people
to actually buy music
and read the liner notes again
and listen to the whole album
and really think about what it all meant.
The shows of their fall tour
sold out in seconds,
and although they could have filled
the largest arenas in the largest cities,
they chose mid-size venues
for a more intimate concert experience.
On November 3, 2018,
Frick and Frack
were playing the Aragon Ballroom
in Chicago, Illinois,
their second of three shows
before they moved on to Detroit.
And we all stood and waited in anticipation,
patiently tolerating the opening acts,
pushing through the crowd to reach the bar.
Sweatshirts and coats tied around our waists,
the body heat of 5,000 Frick and Frack fans
had made the room sweltering.
At least 50 years of spilled beer and old gum
adhered the soles of our Converse sneakers
and Doc Martens to the floor.
Cheers rose up when someone walked onto the stage.
False alarm—just a roadie
making imperceptible adjustments
to the drum set.
the room went completely dark,
and the screams of thousands of people
hung above us,
and the intro music played,
and any second now,
any second now,
and the rest of the band
would saunter onto the stage.
Rex would pick up his guitar,
and for about 90 minutes,
we would all transcend
to a place beyond these worldly cares
and mundane annoyances.
But something was wrong.
After the intro,
there was darkness
and no music.
Just the screams of the crowd,
until the moment lasted just a little too long,
and the screams turned to questioning murmurs
and then angry shouts
as the house lights turned back on,
and a middle-aged, terrified man
tiptoed onto the stage.
He was the general manager of the Aragon,
and he had to inform us
that the show was canceled.
The show was canceled.
The most anticipated show of the year,
if not the decade.
A show we were prepared to remember
for the rest of our lives.
Over before it even began.
The apologetic general manager,
dodging cups of beer
and someone’s shoe,
explained that the band
was just about to walk on stage,
was actually walking right towards the stage,
when Rex Frick vanished,
vanished right into thin air
in front of his stunned bandmates.
There was no warning.
His eyes widened,
and his body faded into nothing,
and he was gone.
And a lot of “Ha, ha, very funny dude,”
and “C’mon bro, let’s go,”
But it was no prank.
Rex Frick was gone,
never to be seen again.
There were a lot of theories as to what happened…
some kind of interdimensional portal,
a Russian mafia hit,
something with the Illuminati,
or perhaps a really severe OSHA violation.
The other members of Frick and Frack,
traumatized, their faith in God and physics shaken,
never played together again.
Even with the theories and the biographies
and the award-winning documentary,
it’s hard to explain
the enormity of our loss.
We lost Rex that night,
lost all our old favorite songs
and the new songs in his mind
we would never get to hear.
There are some who believe he’s dead, of course,
but others who believe
that he lives still in the shadows,
the eerie moments of déjà vu,
the distant notes of a song that sounds so familiar,
but you can’t remember the words.