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Mix Blog Live: A (Long) Day in the Life

It started out like a normal day on tour, with a call time of 11 a.m., but then one thing led to another and before I knew it, it was 1 in the morning and I was still settling merch.

Yesterday shouldn’t have been nearly as difficult as it turned out to be. The show was at The Egg in Albany, N.Y., with Jon Anderson & The Band Geeks, the fourth show of a tour that runs in three legs from now until September. 

Step 1 was renting a car to get from NYC up to Albany. I arrived at Enterprise in Staten Island (that’s another story) at 7:30 a.m. to pick up my rental, which was reserved for 8:00 a.m., only to learn that they had the reservation for 11:00 a.m. Furthermore, they had no vehicles in stock and didn’t know how quickly they could get one. Really? I’ve seen this movie and wasn’t hanging around to watch it again. I’d later hear one of the workers on the phone discussing that they had 35 rentals going out that day, but there were literally no rental vehicles in the parking lot. 

Have you seen that episode of Seinfeld

Jerry: “Do you have my reservation?”

Rental Agent: “Yes, we do. Unfortunately, we ran out of cars.”

Jerry: “But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.”

Good grief. 

READ MORE MIX LIVE BLOG: Breaking Up the Band.

Load-in was scheduled for 11:00 a.m., so I wasn’t about to sit around waiting for the blokes at Enterprise to find me a car. The scramble began and we booked a rental at Newark airport—the closest location. One of the band members lived nearby and graciously offered to pick us up (I was with one of the crew) and take us to Hertz at the airport. Unlike Enterprise, Hertz apparently knows how to honor the reservation. 

Sometime around 9:15 a.m., we rolled out of the airport. Estimated drive time: 2.5 hours. In my dreams. Almost immediately after leaving the airport, we found ourselves smack in the middle of rush hour traffic and would soon learn that the truck with our gear was suffering the same fate. 

We arrived at the venue around noon—90 minutes late—and the scramble began to set up the lighting and video gear we’re carrying, as well as our backline. While waiting for the stage to be readied for soundcheck, I started dealing with one of the less pleasant aspects of the tour manager part of my job: merchandise. 

The tour is offering five items (t-shirts, hats, etc.), two of which are available in six sizes. Anyone who has ever dealt with merch knows that all this stuff gets counted in during the day before doors open, counted out at the end of the evening, and then “settled” with the venue. Settlement means reconciling the number of items counted out with cash and credit card sales, taking into consideration sales tax and CC fees, paying a seller if necessary, and calculating the venue “cut” (i.e., the percentage of merch sales taken by the venue), which, by the way, can range from 15% to 35%. Now you know why band merch sold at a show is so expensive. 

If you think this sounds like a pain in the arse, consider this: Merch is settled at the end of the night, when there are precious few cells of any value remaining in my brain. Did I mention that we found a glitch in the merch sales app that added more than an hour to the settlement process? 

As I made my way back into the venue at around 1:00 a.m. (merch is typically sold and settled in the lobby), the venue was empty and completely dark, and the doors accessing the backstage areas were all locked. Fun. I had a brief moment of panic, thinking that I might be totally alone in the venue and spending the night there, but my crew and the house crew were still backstage and were willing to let me in. I love those guys!

The encore to all this was that a stage hand attempted to move one of our portable lighting trusses without any help and it tipped over, damaging one of the fixtures. This is a good example of what happens when people are in a rush to load-out and get home, but aren’t paying attention to safety. 

Luckily, no one was hurt, but it was a reminder that working safe and smart is far more important than working fast—even when the day is 17 hours long.