In the Arena, 1/25

25 Jan

BY TODD HUNT

Welcome to the dirt-filled blog for this week.  We spent Monday trucking in enough dirt to cover the entire arena floor with eight inches of red dirt in preparation for this weekend’s rodeo.  The real challenge for our crew will be in removing the dirt on Sunday and Monday so that the CDF Business to Business Expo can take place on the same arena floor.  For some reason, the CDF didn’t want to use the rodeo dirt for their trade show.  I wonder why?

Early in the life of the blog, someone asked me to review a typical day at the arena.  While there really isn’t a “typical” day here (which is one of the reasons I love this job!), I thought I could touch on what goes into a show day.  Here’s a basic layout:

7:30 a.m. – Breakfast for the road crew.  Ever heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day?  Well in our business, it is very true.  A good, hot breakfast (and most importantly good, hot coffee!) sets the tone for our entire day.  The road crew often has spent the previous night sleeping on a bus traveling to Tupelo which must make for an uneasy night’s rest.  If our breakfast isn’t perfect, the road crew’s mood can turn ugly.  That makes a long day seem even longer!

8 a.m. – Unload the trucks carrying the production (sound, lights, band gear, sometimes even a stage) for the concert.  Arrival time can vary from 7 a.m. – noon depending on the size of the show (and number of trucks).  We’ll have anywhere from four to 80 stagehands available (again depending on the size of the show).

11 a.m. – 2 p.m. – Lunch for the crew.  Hopefully by now the trucks are unloaded.

2 p.m. – 5 p.m. – Sound check for the artists.  Each show is different.  Some artists perform their own sound check, others allow their instrument techs to handle these duties.  Some artists are onsite all day leading up to the show, others arrive just prior to showtime.  Then there are the artists who don’t arrive at all, but that’s a story for another day.  I try to block those shows out of my mind as best I can…

5 p.m. – 7 p.m. – Dinner for the crew and the artist.  I’ve seen everything from fresh Maine lobster to ribs from Rendezvous to peanut butter and jelly on the backstage spread.  As with almost everything related to the event, it depends on what the artist requests.

5:30 p.m. – The event staff (ticket takers, ushers, t-shirt security, medical, concessions, custodial, etc.) arrive and are briefed on the night’s event.  Again depending on the size of the event, we will have anywhere from four to 150 workers on hand.

6 p.m. – Doors open.  The first guests are allowed into the venue.

7 p.m. – Showtime.  The lights go down and the audience cheers (we hope!).

10 p.m. – Load out begins.  All of the trucks that were unloaded earlier that morning must now be repacked.

1 a.m. – The last truck leaves the building.  Security turns off the lights and we start thinking about tomorrow (or today, as the case may be).

That’s the basic outline of a show day.  Obviously a lot of preparation goes into the event prior to the actual event day.  Potential acts are contacted, contracts are signed, advertising is planned, tickets are sold, concessions products are ordered, the building is set up to the specifications of the event, part-time workers are scheduled, etc.

During the show day, it’s important for us to be flexible as many things can change over the course of a tour and even throughout the course of a day.  We also spend time arranging for various daily needs of the traveling performers and their crew:  doctor’s visits, dry cleaning, workout facilities, you name it.

Now you know what goes into a “typical” event day here at the Arena.  Fire away with any questions you might have and I’ll answer what I can.

Look for me at the rodeo this weekend.  I’ll be easy to spot; just look for the only guy not wearing boots or a cowboy hat…

Until next week,

Todd

4 Responses to “In the Arena, 1/25”

  1. Daniel Lee January 26, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    “Then there are the artists who don’t arrive at all, but that’s a story for another day. I try to block those shows out of my mind as best I can…”

    *cough*DavidAlanCoe*cough*

  2. Todd January 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm #

    Good one, Daniel. With Mr. Coe we found out early in the day that he was ill with the flu and would not be appearing. At least he had the decency to let us know early on. Some artists have waited until showtime (or later) to let us know that they will not be able to perform. Those are the ones that really drive us crazy. Luckily that is now the exception, and not the rule. The “No-Show Jones” days are hopefully behind us (knock on wood)…

  3. steven January 29, 2008 at 7:46 am #

    Man that would be so bad if reba and Kelly could not show, My wife, and I are looking forward to that concert ( Mainly my wife, but I like Kelly also). Have the tickets sold out yet….Heard a lot of the venues they are playing at have sold out.

  4. Todd January 29, 2008 at 9:58 am #

    Steven,

    Tickets are selling briskly for that show but a few still remain. We anticipate a full house for the concert on Feb. 14.

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