Monday, 1 January 2001

Being a profeccional musician for dummies

This one is REALLY old. It's written the second year I worked at the venue, but it makes me smile, so I'm keeping it. To be young and dumb again! (That goes for both me and the bands. We were about the same age when this was posted, and teenagers, even those old enough to vote, don't have everything figured out yet.)

Considering how much asshattery and general stupidity I have experienced during my two years as a volunteer at the concert scene in this town, I thought this would be a good help for bands and artists who either are new to doing this professionally or just don't get it.

This is an instruction in how an artist can get along as painlessly as possible with the different kinds of workers behind the scene.

First a warning: these guys are the ones who decides if you sound good or not, and unless you are in a boy band, the sound is the reason most people at the concert is there. They have the suck button at their disposal, and they have no problem in pushing it if they feel you deserve it. Don't fuck with these people.

Other things not to do:
* move around PAs and speakers on the stage without their say-so. (note: PAs on the stage are placed very carefully to avoid loud screeching sounds also known as feedback and other sound nastiness, and often also to have room for the instruments for several different bands (depending on the scene and situation). Picking up and moving a PA is something you don't do in the same way you just don't meet up for a christening without clothes on).
* Have your roadies do the sound check just because you can't be bothered to (especially if you are the singer. That guy didn't sound anything like you).

These are the people standing between you and the audience. If they try to get the audience to stop throwing beers at you, don't work against them and encourage the audience. If they try to stop stage diving, it's because the people jumping from the grids get too close to you and can hurt you. in 9 out of ten situations, they know their job better than you know yours. Don't work against them.

The guards are not there for you, to be your servant or messengers to band/groupies/random people. If they choose to do as you tell them to (fetch you a glass of water, tell person A that you will meet them after the concert) be happy about it, because it is outside their job description.

Their job is to evacuate the building in case of fire, to clean the venue before, during and after the concert, to stop fights and throw out people who are too drunk. No where in the job description is the words 'personal servant' or 'groupie'.

Note: Just because a guard happens to be female does not mean that you have the right to ask/tell her to have sex with you. In many cases she is the most clothed person in the venue, sober and not interested in your music at all. If you want groupies, they are the ones squeeing when they see you, dressed in short skirts and see-through tops who actually knows the name of your band.

Despite what most people might think, the guards are generally nice people. Often they are doing their job for free just because they like to help, and simple things like treating them like human beings, holding open doors for them when they are carrying dirty beer glasses/trash/your instruments/someone too drunk will often put your name on the list they have over nice bands.

Taking some time to talk to them, helping them by telling which groupies you want in and which you don't instead of screaming at them when they refuse your wife entrance to the back stage area after you told them to not let anyone into the band room will put your name on the top of the asshat list. It won't be forgotten.

One important thing to know about the bartenders: these people are here to fill up your beer against payment. If you want free alcohol, you take that up on the raider or with the venue coordinator, not with the poor bartenders. They can't clap their hands and make the beer free just because you happen to play drums. This is also true if you just happens to play drums in a popular band. If they give you that beer, they can get fired.

The bartenders are not there to: have sex with you (see note under 'guards'), let you pour your own beer or mix your own drink, entertain you (and complaining to their boss that they refused to sing along to your songs or talk to you when they were busy doing their job will not help a bit) or to look after your stuff. Things you are afraid will be stolen belong either in the band room or the wardrobes where people are payed to look after them.

Like the guards, these people can be nice if you are nice. They can make sure you get your drink just the way you want it, and they can take good care of your ego and make sure your favorite beer/wine/drink is in the house if you are a returning customer.

Here is the part you might like; the venue coordinator (or whatever you choose to call them, we just call them either 'poor sods' or 'the guy/girl responsible for the band') is a person that is working for the venue to make sure your rider and wishes are being filled. They are the closest thing you can get to a personal servant next to your own manager, and they will do a lot to make sure your experience at the venue is a pleasant one. They will import, pull strings, cook themselves what the resturants refuses or can't, hire a boat and generally do anything to help you be entertained, full, drunk and satisfied.

But they can't do magic. Asking for a type of jam that has to be imported from spain around midnight the day before you are holding the concert won't do it. They can't make girls magically like you and or make sure the weather is just perfect for you to go around shopping before the concert. This town has 260 rainy days. If you happens to be here on one of them, don't be passive-aggressive towards your poor "servant". They didn't decide the weather.

And when you see the vein in the fore head bulging and the clock showing 24:00 when the posters and contracts said that the concert were to start at 22:00, take it as a hint to get your asses onstage.

That is all for now,
Your friendly venue worker

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