Finding a suitable Halloween costume worthy of being worn at a rock show while out on tour presents some interesting challenges. Things like rubber masks are not only uncomfortable but the fact that they often inhibit hearing or reduce the ability to see clearly make them less than optimum. Furthermore, mobility, safety and other factors are key need to take into consideration. Finally, the effort required to assemble an interesting, unique and acceptable costume can be quite prohibitive while traveling on a rock and roll tour. Fortunately, during a pow wow discussing the optimum costume, Scott came up with an excellent and quite feasible idea of becoming The FOH Swim Team. So while Leif and Nick the Fly were setting up the gear and unaware of the plan, Scott and I went shopping.
After the four of us cautiously got dressed in the back lounge we headed out of the bus walking only in a single file line and adding in an occasional light jog. First stop, the dressing room and with a referee whistle blow we started our loosely choreographed callisthenics routine for the band and then off to do a few photo shoots:
Next order of business was a lap around the venue backstage and a lap through the audience area before settling in at FOH to do our job of presenting the sights and sounds of the rock show. Judging by the reaction we received it became quite clear that swimmers are very popular in Cleveland. Who would have guessed?
Setting the equipment up properly is crucial:
As it turns out we all agreed that we were quite fortunate that no one else came up with same idea. How embarrassed would we have been if there was a Mars Volta swim team? But as you can see, we lucked out.
We were not the only ones dressing up. Have you ever heard anyone say Chad looks like Will Ferrel? Well, I just don't see the resemblance but whatever.
And I don't have pic but Chris Warren dressed up as Chad.
Oh, I got a shot of Flea the flying witch, zooming around while playing Bass.
And in order for Flea to Fly. The system had to be rigged. Here you can see test subject Casey preparing to be the guinea pig. Casey, by the way is a way cool Lampi that is on the Mars Volta payroll. As I was doing research into the R.A.W. though, there was a unanimous request to include Casey in the Peppers crew. Turns out that Casey has been so helpful during load in's and load out's that he actually is depended on as an active member of the Peppers crew. Please welcome Casey, the flying test witch:
If all that was not enough excitement for one day, check this out. Higher Ground has migrated back into the set list and it was amazing! I have always liked the song but forgot how much energy it created when they play it.
And to bring the evening to a close, after a long day comes the hard work of load out. For today's sign off I will leave you with one last glance at Nick the Fly going above and beyond the call of duty, much to the local crew's dismay.
The hoping I have not traumatized anyone with the pics,
Today I set my alarm four roadie shifts early and headed into the venue to investigate what goes on in the wee hours and stumbled into a cool adventure. My curiosity ended me up in an elevator with a bunch of local up-riggers headed for the high steel. Soon after I was traversing a maze of Cat walks in the roof with heart shuddering views and riggers clipped off
over death defying heights, dropping ropes and pulling chains.
Fun scary stuff, just don't look down:
The black dots are humans, the red squares are chain motor cases and the white chalk marks are where the motor points will hang.
**** Meet a Roadie Campaign Episode 8 Continues ****
Here it is, the last and final installment of this years Meet a Roadie Campaign and teary eyed end to Roadie Awareness Week. None caught the math error including myself but the 8 days of R.A.W. is now hearby revised to end whenever is does. In fact, lets just make it roadie awareness year, every year.
Excerpt from Day 89:
Bus and truck drivers have even earlier call times as they drive all night and sleep all day, these nocturnal roadies like riggers, hold our roadie lives and the safely of our beloved wires in the grip of a steering wheel. An interesting side note is that bus drivers typically get carted off to a hotel during the day, while truck drivers sleep in the micro hotel room located in the cab of their truck. Bus drivers drive straight through to deliver their roadie cargo while truck drivers do showers at truck stops that are setup for exactly that, along the way.
An official definition of 'Roadie':
The road crew (or roadies) are the technicians who travel on tour with musicians who handle every part of the production except actually playing the music. This catch-all term covers Tour and Production Managers, Stage Managers, Front Of House Engineers, Monitor Engineers, Guitar Techs, Bass Techs, Drum Techs, Keyboard Techs, Security/Bodyguards, Lighting Techs, and pyrotechnics technicians, among others. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roadie
From the above description it is clear that truck drivers and bus drivers are not actually true roadies but a clearly a related breed, possibly similar to the koala bear not being a true bear but actually being a marsupial. Regardless these cross country haulers of gear and humans are absolutely critical to our world, so I dub them all honorary roadies. Many of these guys, and we got ourselves one gal as well, are surprisingly specialized and tend to haul almost exclusively musical production. In no particular order and I apologize for the ones I could not capture on film, please say hello to our truck drivers and band bus drivers:
Bobby (Flea Bus), Doug (Crew Bus 1), Kurt (AK Bus) and Bobby Lee (Dimmers and Grid truck)
Now this cool shot with Roger (Sound/Subwoofers truck), Doug (Lights 2) and Nick (Wardrobe truck) standing next to the fuel dude. Why do we have a fuel dude? Well, we converted all the busses and trucks to Bio Diesel in Albany and so now a truck full of Bio fuel comes and fills 'em up at the gigs. How cool is that!
And look! John's bus driver, Eddie is an especially friendly bus driver and can be seen here offering us some food.
Security Dave practicing on our lead driver Scott (Rigging truck) and about to take a head slap is truck driver Vic (Backline truck).
Not shown but no less important and appreciated are Jack (Lighting truck 1), Nancy (Versa Wall truck), Bobby (versa Spines truck), Luc (PA truck), Chris (Truss truck) and Jason (Video truck).
Ok, gasp and wow, this was a much more challenging project than I anticipated but I have to say it has been an incredible learning experience, not only about the roadies but also about the tour. While doing my research and interviews I actually have a solid grasp of what the heck they all really do. Best of all, after five months on the road, the head nods of crossing paths are now hello's with names attached and that rules!