Thousands of Canadians attend summer music festivals, but how many of us get up on stage and play in them?
Well, Blenheim’s Renton Huggins can say he did just that.
Renton, 14, played guitar for the band OK Go at the recent Big Festival near Barrie, Ont.
He and his family attended the festival in mid-August, which featured a number of bands, with headliners OK Go and Weezer.
Renton, a big music fan, spent much of the afternoon parked near the main stage, watching other bands and getting ready to see the two main acts.
His parents and siblings slipped in nearby as OK Go took to the stage. Imagine their surprise when their son is being pulled on stage.
“It must be part of their set. The lead singer (Damian Kulash) asked if anyone played guitar. Thousands of people put their hands in the air. He pointed at Renton and said, ‘Come on up,’” father JP said. “I was in disbelief. It was insane; they were pulling him up there in front of all those people.”
Renton said he raised his hand like so many others, not knowing what was to come next.
“I never thought I’d get to play on stage,” he said.
But security personnel made sure he got up there and Renton soon had a guitar – albeit a modified one – in his hands in front of upwards of 20,000 people.
“The guitar was modified. I only had to hit one note. It had one string so I couldn’t mess up,” Renton said. “It was a pretty easy concept.”
Still, he performed with OK Go as they did a cover of Blur’s Song 2.
Even when he had to give the guitar back, the moment lingered.
“As I walked off stage, the crowd was chanting my name, ‘Renton, Renton, Renton…,’” he said.
“When he put the guitar down, everybody started chanting his name afterwards. It was just amazing,” JP said.
Moments prior to strapping on the guitar, Renton handed his camera to a stagehand and asked if he’d capture the moment.
“I had my camera in my hand and asked if he could take a video. He walked around the stage and did a great job,” he said.
The next day, OK Go thanked the festival and concertgoers, singling out Renton one more time.
JP credited his son with perseverance, which paid off at the concert.
“It was general admission. They had bands playing all afternoon. From about 3 p.m. onward, Renton was right up against the stage to try to get a good spot,” he said. “Renton would stay there when other folks would walk away between bands.”
JP said Renton has played drums for years, but only recently took up the guitar. Renton said he still only knows the “easy guitar chords,” but wants to learn more and improve his playing.
Being handed the modified guitar might have also been a blessing, as JP said it was a right-handed guitar, but Renton plays left-handed.
His time on stage, is one Renton won’t soon forget.
“I was a fan of OK Go before the concert, and now I’m an even bigger fan,” he said.
But is he as big a fan as his mother, Catriona? That remains to be seen.
“My mom loves them,” he said.