Meet Australia’s Jared Nelson – See What Goes On Behind Music Events!
My name is Jared Nelson, I am a Roadie and this is my story.
Did you ever look at the world around you and get a little jealous of the people who seemed to have very cool jobs but you had no idea how to get those jobs because they were not advertised in the paper? Well that was me, I knew there was cool jobs out there like sound producers and roadies but when I looked in the paper the job that came after sandblaster or salesperson was not “sound producer wanted – to be trained up to have the coolest job in the world” but instead the next job was more like “Store person wanted – must be reliable and willing to move stuff around lots”
So that was me a young store person who dropped out of a chemistry degree to pursue big dreams of being a musician or a producer or both but having no idea how to get there.
I had one thing going for me though, the ability to dream big, and that I did. I dreamt and wrote in my journal about being on stage in front of thousands of people and they were cheering at me. It was real and vivid and I believed the sky was the limit in the music industry.
Fast forward a few years and I had the craziest déjà vu moment. I was on stage at the South Bound Festival in Busselton, Western Australia. It was often my job as a “lampy” or lighting system technician to climb the front truss on the main stage at a festival to “focus” or point the lights where the main act wanted them pointed. I had done this plenty of times before but this time was different. As I climbed the steel rope ladder the crowd were cheering as loud as they would if the main band was about to play. As I acknowledged them it hit me, this is my dream come true, my visualisations manifested. This feeling of déjà vu was real because I had already been here in my mind so many times in my youth that it felt like I had already seen this moment.
The things I know now about visualisation, mental scripts and manifesting your reality would tell me that I did not paint my dreams with enough detail and colour in my youth but the reality is I found my dream job through a persistent desire to be a part of the music industry in some way or another.
For over ten years I have been working at music related events and getting a back stage pass to some of the biggest and the smallest concerts, festival, parties and weddings that Perth and Australia has seen. I never have to queue, get my bag checked, get ripped off for drinks I don’t even like or most importantly go to filthy toilets with queue’s longer than the line at Crispy Crème launch day.
There has been some down side too, like being so under the pump that eating takes second place and you live on sugary drinks, working some excessively long shifts because every promoter in the world decided to put a show on the March long weekend in Perth and dealing with the over inflated and non-compromising egos of some American touring crew for some really big name acts.
So when I meet a new person and they ask what I do, I tell them that I set up concerts. The response is usually something like “That sounds like a cool job, do you get to meet the band?”
Here is my answer to the collective audience that has never been Behind the Wall of light and sound at a gig. Yes it is a cool job and sometimes you get to meet the band but it is usually the last thing that concerns you because you are just so happy or relieved that the deadline was met once again and the “show is going on”. The truth is that artists are working to a different schedule than the crew. They make an appearance for sound check and then are whisked off to their band room by their crew where they will lay low until show time.
It is a work place back stage, it is calm and artists rarely get drunk. Everyone else back stage has a job to do during or after the show so if you’re not doing something you find a place to stay out of the way and observe the show. Or if you’re tired hide and have a sleep. There is a lot of noise around the stage so non-essential chit chat is seldom and if any usually relates to observing a drunk punter or something that makes you laugh. If you are off duty there is a lot of moving from one spot to another for no particular reason or random walks around the venue to kill time until bump out.
For me the live music industry is a great community where I have met many friends and seen many great artists walk on and off stage but when I leave this earth my memory will not be of which artist were the best but of the mateship and sense of achievement building show after show on time and keeping the fans happy.
THE LIFE OF A ROADIE
Many hours are spent planning preparing and maintaining the equipment we use in live concerts and events. This is usually a bunch of crew working together with their favourite tunes on, turned up loud. You grab your prep list along with the stage plan and push all the road cases into a pile. Next a very important cable prep to suit the gig you are doing. If you have the time you will label all the cases and prep the show as much as possible so its plug and play on gig day. This is a must for touring shows. Once you are sure the prep is done its all hands on deck to load the truck. This is the most physical part of the job because some of the road cases can be heavy.
The Bump in
Many hours or even days before a show starts Roadies all over the world are doing bump ins. The bump in is a fast paced high energy event. This is where your leadership and expertise counts and can make hard day easier or an easy day a nightmare. There are 3 levels of crew. Loaders – The crew who take instruction and help with all the lifting and lugging. Local Tech Crew – The local suppliers of the “kit” who supervise the install and work to the plan of the touring crew/ band. Touring Crew – these are the techs/ people who tour with the band and sometimes work directly for them. These people know the show in and out and are in charge of the gig and have the final say on any changes that will be made.
The bump out
If you thought the bump in sounded crazy then bump out is chaotic. It’s now dark and there is drunk punters everywhere. You have a bunch of random fatigued crew that you have to herd like sheep to get your kit back into their road cases and into the truck before the sun comes up.
The After Party
I’m sure you all have an image of sex drugs and rock and roll right? Wrong. Well mostly. Out of the thousands of shows I have done there has only been 1 percent of them that I have gone to an after party. Mainly because the party is happening while we are bumping out. This is a good thing because the next day usually means the next show and the job is so much harder with a hangover.
Behind the Wall offers real training that aims to get you real jobs. We also want to help you think long term and mentor you throughout your career. We will do this by staying in touch with the industry an always using current and experienced subject experts to deliver our training courses. Our courses are short and contain relevant info and provide an immediate return on investment for participants by helping them earn money straight away. We offer 2 main courses Roadie School and Band camp and we are targeting bands and people who want to work with bands to participate in our valuable short courses.
As part of our launch we are crowdfunding the first Band Camp experience which will give one lucky band an amazing boost to their career. We want prove a concept and revolutionize the way music industry training is delivered.
You can follow this project and pledge your support to a great grass roots on our website at here.