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We are there, too, in the dark under the show, behind it, and above it. > Each prop or cool trick, every costume or scene change requires the hidden help of someone behind the scenes. In a few hours, you will have gone home, but we will still be here, tearing it all down. We will pack up the gear, load up more than a dozen tractor trailers, and head out to the next city. Tomorrow, we will build the production again in a new building. We’ll greet another audience. We’ll put on another show.
From load in to load out, watch a production build toward show time. Hear true stories from the rock and roll roadies who’ve helped create the world’s biggest concert tours with interviews from dozens of touring technicians.
Read an Excerpt
I can pick the roadies out of any crowd. A small army, surrounded by a sea of civilians, we tend to dress in uniform. Faces will be tired, maybe unshowered, 21 Hours Until Show Time 2and most likely wearing either a “Fuck Off” or “Fuck Yeah” defiance. Wear all black, always. That’s basic. We need to blend in, unseen backstage. Closed-toed shoes, preferably steel-toed boots. Cargo shorts or utility belt, even on nights off. Some will be missing chunks of fingers. Others may be missing full fingers. One I know will be missing an ear. Tattoos are a plus, worn as badges of honor, as are beards, mohawks, piercings and shaved heads. When in doubt, asking about these artistic identifiers always gets us talking. We walk in like we are taking over, and usually do. Our laminated backstage passes—discreet, yet purposefully visible to any who bother to look—grant us VIP access almost anywhere, including private clubs, closed liquor stores, and most likely, your hotel room, if we ask. We are not groupies. We are not fans. We are with the show. We are touring live entertainment technicians. We are roadies. If you go without pissing people off, you can stay. But out here, it is more than a job. It is a lifestyle. Like any community, there are certain rules you have to follow. Call it a pirate’s code, to self-govern the chaos. Some rules we’re told. Straightforward, and essential.
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