When my guys headline a show and there’s a support act, we make every effort to make them feel welcome. We do however have a few rules:
1. Respect the schedule
2. Stay out of our dressing room
3. (If it’s a cover band) do not play any Blue Öyster Cult songs
Other than that we really don’t care if you hang upside down from the lighting truss. We don’t limit or turn off parts of the P.A., or cut down on the amount of lighting a support act can access. If a support act wants to play loud, I don’t really have a problem with that—as long as the systems engineer is not worried about the safety of the gear. I know that when our set starts we’re going to sound great, whether it’s loud, soft or somewhere in between.
That’s why I find it so upsetting when we’re treated with disrespect at a show. Like them or not, Blue Öyster Cult is an international recording act that’s sold millions of records and probably logged close to 10,000 shows over the course of their career. They’ve earned the respect of their peers.
Several years ago we were on a show in support of another very well-established act that took their sweet time with a soundcheck that never actually happened. They finally turned the stage over to us 25 minutes before doors opened, leaving us with minimal time to set our gear on the stage and test it. They then proceeded to turn off two-thirds of the P.A. system for our portion of the show. Isn’t that nice? They should have been ashamed of themselves.
We recently had a similar experience, and although the “headline” act did not restrict our access to production (come to think of it, they did limit the amount of lighting we could use), their crew harassed my crew relentlessly before, during and after our set. Their stage manager gave us grief over the timing of our soundcheck, even though we were well within the boundaries of the schedule I had advanced.
My guys are quite capable of reading a clock and planning set times, so for another act’s stage manager to spend the show looking over the shoulder of one of my techs making comments like, “Tell them to cut this song! The set is going to run too long,” is absolutely uncalled for, not to mention obnoxious, distracting and unprofessional.
When our set was over, two of my band guys immediately left the venue. I later spoke with one of them who said, “I’m not going to stick around where I’m not wanted.” That’s a shame, not just because he’s a great guy but also because we’re in the entertainment business. It’s supposed to be about providing the audience with a few hours of a good time — not marking one’s territory. I hope we never make a support act feel like that.