Saturday June 20th!
Finally we get the big pay-off of a year of planning and a big 12 hour day setting up the staging/sound and lighting…it’s the day of the show and its going to be a long one! Some of the EMP overhire is just on the load in of the headliner. Others come back after the show to tear it all down. Then there is the core group of EMP staff and our trusty lackeys cadre of dedicated overhire (one of whom has flown in from NYC to work for us) that are there on Saturday for the long haul: 7am-3am.
Its a glorious start to the day of the show. The weather is going to be sunny and clear, we are ahead of schedule…so we were totally ready for The Decemberists 53′ semi trailer (everyone, say hey! to Ron The Decemberists truck driver!) to arrive and start unloading a massive amount of stuff: costumes, loads of guitars, extra lighting equipment, audio snakes, control boards, sets, drops, motors and truss.
Calexico, Yeasayer, and Solid Gold are using lighting and sound from our staging vendor. But The Decemberists travel with all their own gear, so we work most of the morning to get them set up in time for an 11am sound check with the band. Until then, the crew is testing mics, firing up the audio gear for the first time (amplified sound permit with the City of Mpls starts on Saturday morning), unpacking the headliner’s gear, setting up The Decemberists lighting, unloading the backline (the instruments and amps the band will be playing during the show), and generally racing around getting things done. Being sure to swing by the crew/band tent backstage for a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll as often as they can (wait, maybe that was just me…)
Meanwhile, other areas of the event are springing into action. There is a whole other part of the EMP crew getting all the vendors powered up, inspected by the City of Mpls electrical inspector (for our permit with the City) and all the cable covered with cable ramps so ticket holders don’t trip and spill their beers!
And another part of the crew is working with MPR’s The Current to get them set up with power, ISDN lines for the live feed from onsite and working with their audio engineer to get tied into the audio snake so they can record the show for playing back over the radio later.
All of this happens while the staging crew starts sound checking bands one after the other in reverse order…the goal is to finish checking Solid Gold last so we are already set up for the top of the show.
Another part of our department’s crew is assigned to backline/staging. They basically work with the bands to figure out what goes where, and how it plugs in…every band has a different configuration with different instruments and a variety of needs, so the trick to to lay it all out in a way that is logical and makes sense with a good group of people that can trouble shoot quickly while the bands are working and performing.
Incredibly, we are on schedule through all the sound checks! Vendors are up and running! The electrical inspector has given us a valid permit!
(A frantic dance of joy! Complete with jazz hands!)
Ellie, master planner of all things Rock the Garden comes over radio at 3pm and gives the go: Doors are OPEN!
It was pretty cool to watch people stream in from the entry tents. If you have a chance, I encourage you to watch the time-lapse video of the set up and show that Andy, intrepid EMP videographer, took on Fri-Saturday. It cracks me up everytime. One minute: bare expanse of green lawn. The next minute: people pour onto the hill (Bleah….)
I guess it would be totally uncool to sit here and unload some saucy gossip about any of the bands shenanigans that may or may not have happened backstage. But I WILL tell you that my favorite photograph I took on Saturday is the one I like to call “How many technicians does it take to fix a golf cart hotwired by Solid Gold?”