For a lot of new bands and artists, the first time you play a support gig for a prominent band or open a festival for the first time, can be one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences of your fledgling career and the same goes for journos, PR and management staff the first time they get that glorious lanyard.
Janine Morcos, head of publicity for Cooking Vinyl Australia, has seen plenty of bands and young industry workers pop their backstage cherry numerous times and knows all too well the do’s and dont’s for behind the scenes behaviour.
As part of our campaign with AustralianSuper, helping you kick start your career in any and all aspects of the music or creative industries, Janine is here to lay down the facts, when it comes to not being embarrassing yourself backstage.
1. Don’t be a jerk, be a good dude.
It’s the number one rule! It’s a general rule in life and it’s really not that hard when you think about it. It’s like when your friend drags you along to a party and you’re surrounded by new people. You want to get along with these new people and actually make a good impression, right?
That same attitude applies backstage, so be polite, friendly, offer to help a techie move a speaker, ask people how their day is going, you know, that sort of general non-jerk behaviour. You’d be surprised how many people simply don’t use manners backstage!
2. Don’t fan boy over your favourite artist.
The backstage area is a haven for an artist; it’s their home to chill out and relax. It’s where they have time out from the fans. If you’re welcomed into their domain – act cool, calm and collected. Don’t start freaking out, burst into tears or start blurting out how much you love them and you are their number one fan. Well, you can, but it’ll change your dynamic with the artist pretty quickly.
Have you watched Wayne’s World? Remember the ‘we’re not worthy’ scene with Alice Cooper? See below, if you need a reminder.
I’ve watched many artists walk away from a fan boy situation awkwardly, so my advice is keep it as cool as possible!
3. Don’t try and drink someone else’s rider.
Would you walk into an office space or a stranger’s home and help yourself to their kitchen and booze without asking? Would you steal someone’s lunch off them? I didn’t think so. A band rider is for the artist, as they get ready for work. Don’t be a thief, man!
I was once with someone and it was their first time backstage at a festival. I thought “Yeah I can trust them, they’re not a jerk”. Anyway, we go to see the band play and this person disappears during the band’s set. I walked back to the dressing room after the set to find this person busted by the band and their management diving into their drinks and food rider.
Let’s just say that person was never invited back there again!
4. Don’t pass swap.
Passes are the key to the entry of the backstage world. They are allocated to those who need to be there, so don’t abuse the privileges. Giving your pass to someone else is not only careless but also dangerous.
Would you hand someone your credit card? Yeah probably not. Trust me, you stand out backstage if you’re not invited back there. You don’t want to be that guy who gets walked out of the festival in front of your favourite band because you broke the rules and snuck someone in. Also it’s a quick-fire way to lose your job or your spot on the festival lineup.
5. Don’t try and talk to the band as they get off stage.
You know how after a footy game is over and a journalist shoves the microphone in the player’s face and they are gasping for air? It’s kind of the same concept. You never truly know what is going through a band’s head when they get off stage.
What might have been a cracking set for you watching side of stage, could have been an absolute stinker for the artist so give them space to get their head around what just happened and let them recover.
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