Who Are the Ani DiFranco Road Crew?
Why does this girl need a road crew? Isn’t she just some chick with an acoustic? What’s all the fuss about? Can’t she just get up there and tune and sing some damn songs? What could possibly be in that semi? How about an entire P.A. and lighting system? Enough shit to keep ten or eleven really sweaty people busy all day long? Yes? Hello? Really? Really. Who are they? What do they do exactly? Well, I worked as a stage hand with them for a day at The Moon in Tallahassee, Florida and this is what I found out…
HEIDI — Merchandise. VERY helpful and friendly. Possibly the only person in the world who looks cool in a spiked collar. Her hair changes colors frequently. While not selling T-shirts & CDs, she does some ten-finger typing on her laptop, probably writing the sequel to Atlas Shrugged or something. She informed me of five interesting facts: 1.) Despite popular belief, the road manager and the tour manager are two separate entities; 2.) Their booking agent books the gigs, as well as the gigs for several other bands; 3.) She doesn’t get to see very many Ani DiFranco shows; 4.) Two of the band members & one member of the road crew are from Canada, throwing my calculations and International Musician Olympic Scoreboard way off; 5.) She does not know if Ani DiFranco has ever read any Ayn Rand.
LARRY — P.A. Tech. I didn’t actually see him do anything but introduce Danielle Howle and act really goofy. I’m not ragging on him, he seemed like a cool guy. I just didn’t know who he was until it was too late. He used the word “vector” at one point while telling me where to put some heavy black boxes containing expensive stuff.
ANDREW — Canadian. He hauls ass all over the stage (jumping over lots of things moving in different directions) in a jumpsuit and does the monitor mix. Got a long beard, too. Ani, give this guy a vacation. He’s pooped.
JOHN — Always looks like he just broke something. During the show he shuffles a lot of papers and runs the lights.
REG — Guitar Tech. Said a lot of interesting post-modern things during sound check. He takes care of and tunes lots of interesting guitars in interesting ways. He pushes boxes around REALLY fast.
OSCAR — Big security guy. Basically sits on the edge of the stage and waits to hurt someone really bad, as far as I know.
JUSTIN & GRAMPS — Drivers. No idea who Justin is, but I met Gramps. He sat on the railing during the unloading and told lots of stories.
DAVE — Tour Manager. Never saw this guy, either. I would really like to know what he did during the day, though. Probably something cool.
STEVE — His official title is “Front of the House P.A.” but he is basically THE MAN. This guy is… umm… organized. Here are a FEW of the things he does: At 8:00 a.m. he begins unloading the semi. The guy has EVERYTHING memorized about what fits where and how many times you have to rotate it in the air and how many people it takes on each side and what boxes are coming out next and which side you push it from to avoid flipping them and what part of the stage they go on. Remember, this is an entire semi filled with road cases that basically say “A543” or “P6” or “GOOFY” on them. Yeah. Then, once everything is on stage… he herds up all the temporary roadie people that the club supplies and tells them how to construct the entire sound & lighting system. This basically takes about 4-5 hours and a lot of running around. I saw him at one point sweeping lots of garbage off the floor of the club. Once the gear is in place, he begins the wiring and sound checking. This lasts about 5 more hours. Once this is done, I’m not sure what he does until the show starts. He then shows up magically and 1.) Mixes the concert. 2.) Records the concert to 16 Track ADAT. You mean that’s all? During the show, one of his ADATS told him “nOFO.” That’s not good, if you know anything about these things. He looked a bit stressed and shook his head, pressing REC and REW about 5,000 times. In the midst of this emergency, he looked over at one of his little gooseneck mixer lights. There was a hair hanging from it. He leaned way over and pulled the hair off and went back to arguing with his ADAT. Shortly thereafter, I caught him adjusting a reverb unit. The reverb time was set to 3 seconds. He pressed a button four times, shortening it to 2.6 seconds. This is taking place in a rather large theater; but as I said, he’s organized. Once the show is over, he begins yelling lots of forcefully demanding things at the rest of the crew on his walkie. He then breaks all the equipment down and loads it back into the semi. By the end it’s about midnight or later. What a lazy bum.
I am assuming that Ani & Co. make lots of money. If this is true, they deserve every bit of it. They are the hardest working people I have ever worked with. Rick Adkins would fit in nicely with them.