Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm With The Band

Just about a month ago I did a post on the disturbingly common idiocy of concertgoers. I also mentioned the fact that I'd been to many, many concerts, but not always as a ticketholder. I spent much of the 90s working, at least part-time, as a stagehand.

I had never seen the Rolling Stones when they came to town on their "No Security Tour," (a total lie by the way - they had security like everywhere) so I arranged to work for the crew, meaning a free show, but hard work until the wee hours. After arriving just prior to the show, I got my "working crew" pass - essentially a backstage pass without the privilege of hanging with the band - and staked out a spot near the back of the arena so as to watch the show without interfering with paying customers.

The show began, and it was very elaborate and loud, as expected. Within a few minutes a, I'll just call her an "overdone concert floozy," wandered over, cigarette in one hand and expensive-yet-cheap beer in the other, and started talking to me about the Stones, her kid, her junior high days, etc. Basically, all crap I had no interest in knowing about. After all these years I wanted to watch
the band.

Before long the topic of my backstage pass came up, and she stated that I could "get
so much 'slice' with that thing." (It's noteworthy to me that one of the most disgusting expressions for the female organ I've ever heard came from a woman.) I really wasn't interested in "slice" or getting sacked for giving my pass to someone or explaining that it wasn't a general backstage pass but one for working crew only. At the moment I only wanted to watch the show.

way too long it became apparent that there would be no backstage pass forthcoming, and the woman shook my hand and said it was nice talking to me. But not before putting her hand on my chest, right where the pass happened to be affixed, and saying, "Wow, you're in really good shape! You must work out."

Give me a flippin' break, lady. Your disingenuous and self-serving flattery will get you nowhere. I'm a man of average, respectable build, and have never had anything resembling a "six-pack" on my chest. Though I have had many a pint in my hands.

So, I still have never really enjoyed a Stones show in person. Mick seemed cool. He waved at us working crew stiffs as he hopped into a limo after the show. In my experience, most artists did not acknowledge the plebeians.

I had a similar "floozy fan" experience at a Meatloaf show during his 90s revival. She got my attention and said that she wanted to pose as my wife or girlfriend and go backstage with me. I explained that it didn't work that way. She grabbed my hand, ostensibly looking for a wedding ring, and said I could call her sometime if I wanted. I told her it still didn't work that way. I guess you can't blame her for trying.

Me with my idols, Yes, on their 35th Anniversary Tour.

I find it interesting that the first concert where I ever saw women taking their tops off and throwing them at the band was (purportedly) Christian rock band Creed. Hmm.

A show where the tops stayed on but the girls screamed at the tops of their lungs was *NSYNC. I actually stood out at the front of the stage in the dark, with 20,000 screaming girls at my feet, holding a line to a curtain which I was to yank down on cue at the start of the show. During the performance itself I was also in the envious position (from the audience's perspective) of occupying one of two small booths at the back of the stage where *NSYNCers would retreat when one of their cohorts was doing a solo spot. I was pretty much invisible in there.

Prior to the show, when the group arrived, "Young Mr. T." made it known he was not pleased with our old, ricketty stage. "Yo, this stage is fucked up," he said, complete with ghetto gesticulations.
Yo, you're a pathetic poseur, Mr. Whitekidfromthesuburbs. Mr. T's future (or then-current?) girlfriend, a newcomer named Britney Spears, was the show's opening act. I later gave my pass and t-shirt from the show to a friend's preteen daughter, who, stunned, coveted if for days before taking it to school for "show and tell."

I wish I could remember the name of the rap or hip-hip artist who came to the venue with his own security posse, which then proceeded to tell our in-house security staff they were not permitted anywhere near the backstage area. Yeah, right. It made for some tense confrontations, let me tell you.

Country singer Travis Tritt, who I'm no fan of music-wise, was a pretty decent guy. He stopped on his way out after the show, while us stagehands were loading the trucks, and said something to the effect of, "I want to thank you guys for all your hard work. I really appreciate it." Respect. I actually valued my $7.00/hr. that evening.

I had an interesting run-in with (now) late Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon. Or, rather, he had a rather interesting run-in with a large metal door. His band opened for Lenny Kravitz (possibly?), and as Hoon ran unsteadily off the stage after their set I held a door open so he could go back to the dressing rooms. He failed to notice me and instead ran right into an adjacent door that was barred shut. Hence, my holding the good "door" open for him. He then stumbled through my door relatively unharmed.

I once stumbled across Sheryl Crow backstage. Not literally, but I happened to pass by once as she was playing ping-pong. A good musician, but let me tell you, her appearance on album covers and MTV was a miracle of modern makeup. She looked rather, umm, road-weary, in addition to having some "complexion" issues. Oh well, nobody's perfect.

One from my goatee days:
Olivia Newton-John was totally hot.

Steve Winwood is a talented little guy. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. I worked for him on a show during the 90s revival of Traffic. I walked just feet behind him pushing a roadcase after the show, and noticed he was quite the diminutive fellow. But, again, very big on talent. Way to overcompensate, Stevie Boy!

Also on the small side was Ronnie James Dio, who was back with Black Sabbath for a stint, and who formerly sang with Rainbow and, aptly, Elf. But RJD had a big heart. He was very gracious with his fans, stopping for pictures and autographs after the show. He even gave them his trademark "devil horns" salute. Nice chap.

This is getting long, so I'd better wrap it up.

Back in about '93 or so Foreigner did a coheadlining tour with the Doobie Brothers. I'd never seen either, so, as a child of the 70s and a grownup wanting to make a few bucks and see a show for free, I worked the gig. Say what you want about a generic "corporate rock" sound, but Foreigner really kicked ass on stage.

After their set founder/guitarist Mick Jones stepped off to the wings near me, Les Paul still on his chest, and lit up a cigarette.
I was applauding the band as much as anyone in the audience, because the show really was good. After a few puffs, Mick stamped out his cigarette, and gave me a wink and a nod (it was a "Thanks, mate!" kind of thing, not a gay kind of thing, as some infantile acquaintances have suggested) before heading back out for an encore. That was cool.

I don't exactly miss my stagehand days, but I do enjoy recalling some of the memories. I worked a lot of shows I didn't detail here - INXS (with the late Michael Hutchence), Santana, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, EWF (Earth, Wind & Fire), Moody Blues, Snoop Dog, Jethro Tull, ZZ Top, Boston, Jimmy Buffett, Duran Duran, Stevie Nicks, Reba McEntire, Kenny G (dear God!), Steve Miller Band, Pat Benatar, and the list goes on and on.

Now you know why no one is ever allowed to play Jackson Browne's song "The Load-Out" in my presence.

Note: Pictures of me with artists were not taken during my stagehand days, but later. This just seemed to be a good post in which to include them.


Anonymous said...

Hey, you dont like scoring the slice at concerts?

Pete Bogs said...

anon - I don't need "slice" from self-serving floozies... especially when it will lose me my job...

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

loved it. i knew it would be a fun vicarious ride with you. i HATE the load out song. i pretty much despise JB's music anyway so....howled at your account of baby justins tantrum. glad to see you with yes...did you mention once that somebody from the band was seriously sliding?? still love the sound quality at the beginning of roundabout.


Jack K. said...

You gotta watch out about slice. You could be the one bleeding at the end of the encounter.

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. The photos are cool too.

Pete Bogs said...

k9 - I thought you in particular would enjoy this... I don't remember talking about Yes before, but I had one of their videos on here...

jack - it's not the most, um, appealing (was gonna say appetizing) expression, is it? better to stay away from anything called that!

K9 said...

/bark bark bark

bogs, i have a complimentary post to this...with photos. however, i have not posted about it since i cannot either bluetooth or usb from my phone the photos i took...youd love it though. its the rig paul mccartney travels with, being used now by faith hill and tim mcgraw. ive got lots of cool behind the scenes stuff....28 tractor trailers worth of gear. a stage thats a flat video wall....and basically, the whole things run from a little mac set up and pro tools. im not kiddin.
my friend is the guitar tech for tim'll die when you read this....he's pulling 6 figures, he pays for nothing on the road...they stock their buses with whatever they check off on a list (so if you were him? youd write down a case of guiness pints and it'd be there when you loaded up) he doesnt load out...he loads about 6 guitars into the bus and leaves. and he gets paid in the off season.

they gave us seats, we left early, but i never even saw tim mcgraw pick up a guitar during the concert.
so, what a cush job. im happy for him. wish it were me tho'.

i do the photos someday...maybe ill go to verizon and get them to email the photos to me or something.....


CROAK said...

ok ok I am impressed. Nice to know you like our Aussie girl.

Didn't picture you so tall.

Glad you have discerning tastes, Bogs, in women. Makes you more interesting.

Good flow of stories there.
More Please!

Pete Bogs said...

k9 - I worked as a stagehand for Reba McEntire several times... her crew told me she's the best person to work for - keeps them on the payroll year-round... so, some of those country folk are mighty nice... also owns all her own lighting and sound equipment, I understand...

croak - I'm just about 6' tall... and I do have a variety of musical and other tastes that include Aussie women... Naomi, Nicole, ONJ, etc.

Bird said...

my band experiences are limited to being the "girlfriend" of the bass player (yeah, i've always loved musicians and roadies - just can't help it - bass is my fav - those deep lines laid down low - yeah...)in a cover band years ago (playing local bars and one very bizarre senior prom in King City in the valley)

loved the post bogs. and my goodness -you're looking good in those pics. gee - got a pass for me?



liberalbanana said...

Oh god, "slice"?? I wouldn't have had any idea what that woman was talking about if you hadn't explained it. GROSS!

Those were some great stories. I thought of you when I saw Fiona Apple in concert a few weeks ago... This chick sitting next to me was singing along the whole time and although I couldn't hear her (thank god) I still wanted to say, "Seriously? We all know the words. You don't need to prove what a huge fan you are by singing along to every. single. word. You're distracting me beeatch!" But I didn't.

K9 said...

goede ochtend bogshond,

ja! ik denk you nice met body.
i cannot offer to you any cake im droevig!
too bad it is mijn aroma goed!

vaarwel voor nu,

Pete Bogs said...

bird - I sold most of my passes on eBay, or gave them away to good homes... sorry...

banana - I am jealous... I missed Fiona earlier this year due to an incorrect tour schedule on the web...

freya - thanks, I think! ;-)