Backstage with Baldy
Jacksonville – April 27th
There was a giant roasted pig in catering at lunch today.
I’m a carnivore, so although I ingest meat, I still get a little freaked out when I see the face of something I’m about to eat, so I would imagine that the vegetarians and vegans amongst the bands & crews at today’s festival were more than a little traumatized by the sight of an enormous dead pig laid out right next to their salads.
It’s a rock show though, so there’s plenty of trauma to go around, whether it’s backstage, onstage, or out in the crowd.
Some of my trauma today revolved around organizing the band’s photo shoot for Kerrang magazine, facilitating the day’s interviews and meet & greet, and running around like a monkey trying to get things ready for the band to do a runner after the show.
What’s a runner you ask?
A runner is when the band or artist leaves the show directly after they’re done playing. That means basically walking off of the stage directly onto the bus or whatever other vehicle is waiting.
The main reason for a runner is to beat concert traffic, which anybody knows can be a major pain in the onions after a show.
Back when I worked for Elton John, he did runners after every show, and he had it down to such a science that he even changed out of his stage clothes into a sweatsuit before his last encore. That way he was in his travelling clothes before the show was even over, and he was set to go the second after he hit his last note.
In spite of our best efforts to properly prepare for it, our runner in Jacksonville was not up to Elton standards.
The buses were pulled up right next to the stage, we had a police escort, everyone’s stuff was cleared out of the dressing room, and we even had our after-show food waiting on the bus.
Rule #1 when executing a runner? Leave immediately, which we failed to do.
Two or three minutes can mean everything, and those three minutes cost us.
Rule #2 of a runner? Have your police escort clear a path through the traffic, not get five cars in front of you, leaving you stuck behind a truck attempting an illegal left hand turn into oncoming traffic.
So our runner was a complete failure, but we eventually made it out of there, and
back to the hotel where another tauma was awaiting: getting the band members up to their rooms in the middle of a hotel that was full of people coming back from the concert. Not to mention hundreds of drunken conventioneers dressed as pirates.
Yes, pirates. I’ve dealt with plenty of drunken hotel guests over the years, but it’s a bit disconcerting to have the elevator doors open and have a drunken pirate jump in your face screaming “Aaargh” and getting all swashbuckly.
Fortunately we got everyone to their rooms without getting harassed or kidnapped, and the pirates allowed our tour buses to leave Jacksonville intact. But I won’t be forgetting the pigface or the pirates anytime soon…