This is it: the night that RUSH fans have waited for since 1999, when the group was first eligible to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Thursday night, the Canadian trio -- a staple of classic rock radio stations -- will jam onstage with their fellow class of inductees.
We should feel vindicated, right?
For the last 13 years, fans of the band have been outraged as the Hall of Fame overlooked their heroes. From the moment RUSH was eligible for consideration, fans signed petitions and wondered what kind of critics could be keeping their heroes from the limelight.
Even now, fans still feel slighted.
You see, these are fans who are used to explaining -- and being summarily dismissed for -- their love of the band, said "RUSH: Beyond the lighted stage" documentarians Sam Dunn and Scot McFadyen.
RUSH has been a band almost 40 years. Their music has encompassed genres ranging from heavy metal to new age. They even penned a rap once (and caught a lot of flak for it from fans, too.)
Despite selling millions of records and achieving top-of-their-field musicianship, they've never really had the respect of music critics.
By extension, neither have their fans.
"I remember reading once (RUSH drummer and lyricist) Neil Peart got voted one of the worst lyricists of all time," Dunn said.
"And I can't imagine the rage that that would inspire in a lot of fans," he said. Peart's lyrics are a major reason fans cite interest in the band's music, he said.
They identify and connect with Peart's words so personally, "I absolutely think it's 'By attacking RUSH, you're attacking us,' " Dunn said. "And it's war."
Likewise, Geddy Lee's vocals are an unavoidable hurdle to RUSH appreciation, which fans are well aware of. His singing voice is highly pitched, in the tradition of singers like Robert Plant or Roger Daltry, but in an extreme.
"I think one critic said it sounded like a hamster in a blender," McFadyen said. When they were working on the documentary and discussed with people in the industry what they were doing, people would tell him, "Oh, I detest RUSH. They suck. I cannot stand Geddy's voice."
He's heard that before. He knows Geddy Lee's singing has a polarizing effect on people. But if you love it, you love it for life, he said, and you don't mind that it's complex, nerdy music.
At their core, RUSH is a trio of outsiders. They grew up in suburban Canada, where guitarist Alex Lifeson and bassist and singer Geddy Lee were both first-generation Canadians from immigrant families, doing the best they could to avoid being the target of bullies. They didn't graduate from high school. And although they forged a career as one of the best-selling rock bands in history, the only thing rock 'n' roll about them is their music -- no drug overdoses, no sex scandals, no trashing of hotel rooms. Ever.
Musicologist, author and RUSH researcher Christopher McDonald said fans deeply identify with the band because of that nonconformity.
While the first wave of RUSH fans in the 1970s were seen as a homogenous audience of jean-jacket-wearing, frowning boys, it soon became obvious that the fan base was far more diverse.
RUSH was dismissed by critics for their complicated songs and epically tackling fantasy and sci-fi topics in their lyrics. According to McDonald, those same qualities won them the attention of a nontraditional fan base, people who loved Dungeons & Dragons.
"RUSH didn't always go after the pop culture cliches," McDonald said. "The songs were sometimes very long, the song topics were sometimes overwrought. They would have songs that quoted Hemingway, songs with a science fiction theme, an album that drew ideas from Carl Jung," he said.
"Who's going to be interested in something like that? It's going to be some of the people in the Chess Club."
That's why 43-year-old Web developer and proprietor of RUSH Is A Band Ed Stenger likes them. He's the first to admit you can "count the number of RUSH love songs on one hand."
Like many fans who were exposed to the music of RUSH before 1980, (including McFadyen) he was ushered into the fandom by an older brother.
"When '2112' came out, he was 14 and the time and I was 6," Stenger said. "RUSH was the background noise to my youth." And once his older brother went to college, it was easy to dig up old RUSH LPs and cassettes.
The science fiction-evoking titles caught his eye first. Then he noticed "2112" was a 20-minute song.
"I was like, what?!" Stenger said, "A song can't be 20 minutes long!"