Touring gigs vary drastically in workload, responsibility and exposure to stress. Equally diverse is the schedule that each roadie in the herd maintains.
Riggers - are the sharp edged early risers. First in and last out, they calculate and hang the heavy loads safely over our heads. These clean, mean and meticulous machines effortlessly climb to frightful heights. The upside is that they typically can get a nice long mid day sissy nap.
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.
Production roadies include the production manager, stage manager and production assists. With their early load ins and late outs they have possibly the most stressful gig of the bunch. Their chosen tasks of keeping the whole show running smoothly, sooner or later brings every unresolved issue into their lap. Plus they are responsible for organizing all the humans and gear to show up in the right place, right time, within budget and as many people as happy as possible. The positive side? Well hey, they run the show so if they need something they just ask themselves if they can have it and that has its advantages.
Lighting Techs. One thing about lights is that they take a lot of power. Big power means big heavy wires and a heck of a lot of them. These roadies are coming in soon after riggers and are at the gig till the hairy end. If you look to the upper sides of stage during the show, you will see there are four follow spot roadies. Those the specialized lighting people you see climbing ladders right before the Peppers play. We carry two of them, the other six are locally hired each night. Lighting techs to this day tend to be some of the more rugged roadies, maybe it is the wires or genetics but the work hard/play hard ethic runs strong in lampi world.
Carpenter. A highly specialized roadie whose purpose is to be able to fix, repair or build anything the tour may need and then do what ever else need to be done afterwards. Carps are cool!
Catering - In Europe we, as most large tours, carry full catering. In the US, the opposite is true. Why that is, heck I don't know. On this tour we carry a band chef and he also looks after the crew a bit as well. They shop, they cook and they feed and though it is a good solid day of work over hot stoves, the appreciation they get from grateful eaters is not in short supply.
Video Techs - Video is a bit of a newer gig compared to old school lighting and sound worlds and as such tends to vary quite a bit from tour to tour. With huge video sets like we have out here, the vid crew is running about the same workload/schedule as lighting. With the current video setup including two active cameramen and two roadies in real time control over video shots, they keep pretty busy during show time.
Sound Techs - A bit later call times than the lighting, the sound techs get to do a lot of waiting and then have a bit of a crunch to get set. The sequence of events during load in is usually rigging, lights, video, sound and then backline, with overlaps of course. The state of the art sound systems that we use today are a far cry from the old "hang a pile o boxes here" mentality of 5 or 10 years ago. Currently, every room is measured with laser range finders to determine the dimensions. The data is input into 3D sonic prediction software that calculates optimum coverage, potential volume levels and determines the precise angle of every speaker box. To learn this, the techs go through a training course and are certified as such.
Dressing room coordination - As you get closer and more directly involved with the artists, things take on more of an air of finesse. A far cry from thousand pound set carts bouncing on a forklift, building the happiness escape that keeps the musical humans smiling and harmonious is the job of dressing room humans. A world of comfort within a world of frenzy. Their day starts later but the end is dictated randomly by who stays how long. So, flexibility and adaptation are the name of the game while being the delicate buffer to protect one of our most valuable assets and the reason we are all here, the band.
Backline Techs and Monitor Engineer- These techs have an even later of a call time and finish relatively early in the big picture. The workloads are fairly light comparatively but the responsibility huge. Each backline roadie deals directly with their band human, one each for bass, guitar and drums while the monitor engineer with all four in he band. Every nuance from which guitar tuned how and when, to making absolutely double extra sure that the guitar, bass, drum and monitor rigs operate as close to perfection as possible, every single show. There is no error unseen by either the band member or possibly the entire audience. They have both awesome gigs and mind bending stress as each of them is pretty much responsible for the band hearing themselves and each other so they can perform the show.
FOH World - Lighting designer and FOH Sound Engineer live in a bit of a different realm. On one hand they are far from the fray of stage where the action is, on the other hand, everything the audience sees and hears is at their finger tips. The mass of ears is a unique critique that responds to feeling and emotion. Meanwhile, there are enough people in the know at each show that errors do not go unnoticed. It's an ethereal slow distance once removed stress that can pop into immediate trauma if something important goes pear-shaped. A gig I love and would not trade for the world.
Band Entourage includes the tour manager, TM assist, the band members and a few key people that keep 'em in tip top shape. The band entourage travel separately from the rest of the tour crew and many mysteries surround them. Actually, I am just side stepping the description as the documentary Spinal Tap has already adequately covered the facts from the band angle.