Date: April, 2004
Place: University of Maine, Orono, Maine
Ahhh, the college years. Though not as campy and short lived as the "Saved By The Bell" crew's romp through higher education, it was still memorable and well worth the $20,000 I drown under now and for years to come. (Or so I'm told.) My junior year in particular was less about fighting with my former football player R.A. (Mike, played by Bob Golic) and dealing with the shenanigans of an accident prone and perpetually smart, yet dumb best friend (a la Screech), but more about hanging in my apartment which smelled rich of Subway sandwiches from the restaurant below, doing as little school work as I could (text books are overrated), and rockin' with my band Now Transmission as the stunning and oh so talented lead singer that would have made Kelly Kapowski look twice. (It's my blog, you gotta let me exaggerate a little.)
This particular spring was a big one for the band. We were pretty well known across campus, played quite a few shows around the area and in Portland (THE big city of Maine if you're unfamiliar), had a quick tour of New England, and garnered the popular vote to play the school's now defunct big music festival, Bumstock, as the campus band headliner to play two slots before SoCal rockers Eve 6.
It was incredible to be able travel around and play the songs we created with assorted covers to please the drunkards. (Sorry, no Freebird!) It wasn't very glorious, we rarely got paid enough to cover the gas, let alone a meal, but it was really all about the rockin' and having fun.
When we did have that rock star moment, it was definitely memorable. That's where the "rider" comes in. If you don't know what a rider is, it's basically a list of requests by a band of what they want the night of a show for them and their crew. Items will include anything from certain foods to accommodations. You name it, it's probably been on some big bands rider. I actually stumbled on the backstage section of a site called thesmokinggun.com which is an archive of band riders. I recommend starting with Foo Fighters '08, it's hilarious.
But anyway, I digress. In April '04, before the big Bumstock show we were given the opportunity to open for one of my favorite alternative rock bands, Fuel. (This is before Brett, the lead singer left the band.) They were going to play on campus at the Maine Center For The Arts, the big performance hall on campus which seated somewhere around 1,500, give or take. Anyway, it was going to be the biggest crowd we ever played for. (But that's another story for another day.)
For such a big show, and because their budget apparently allowed it, we were offered a rider. This was a lot of pressure. I'm supposed to be a rock star yet I have no idea what I would want for a rider. We were provided a nice dressing room, cool. We were opening for Fuel, incredible. What more could I want?
Of course, their budget for us was probably meant for some drinks and a few snacks, maybe even a towel, so I didn't want to go overboard and look like an idiot. And I certainly wasn't going to go all Van Halen, making sure there were no brown M&M's or demand "real knives, forks, spoons, plates, and napkins" with the only exception being Solo cups like the Foo.
So you know what I asked for? Nutty Bars and Gatorade. I love Nutty Bars and they sure hit the spot. And how can you wrong with free Gatorade? You can't. The other guys settled for some of their favorite snacks and we enjoyed every ounce of free rock star goodness.
Was it very rock star of us? Maybe not. I'm sure the Zack Attack, the Zack Morris led supergroup would have outdone us, but we rocked the show just the same. We got to meet Fuel, watch their show from the back stage area and pretend like we were a big deal for a whole night. And it was spectacular.
Here's the real question. What would you include in your rock star rider? We're assuming that you're a small, but successful act. You're no U2 but people sing along to your songs that have made it to the airwaves. Let's hear it.
Photos courtesy of Holly Barber: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hbhocusfocus