Monday, February 16, 2015

The Jack White Tour Rider Fiasco

The publication of "tour riders" is best understood as an outdated meme or piece of gotcha journalism. It's the sort of thing you read on the archives of The Smoking Gun. It has nothing to do with reality. If you're going to mount any kind of tour throughout the world with more equipment than would fit in a 70s conversion van, you need to have a rider in order to be able to put on shows. That rider can be simple or meticulous, and it has nothing to do with being an asshole. It has everything to do with the logistics of actually putting on a show. Once everyone has agreed upon things, the rider is a quality of life deal because being happy is better than being miserable.

Here's a valid point from Jack White:

but in reality, it’s just some food and drinks backstage for the hundred workers and guests who have to live in a concrete bunker for 15 hours. some people bring their own living rooms on tour, some people ask for a huge spread. who cares? what you’re looking for is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s, sorry to disappoint.

 The rider, in and of itself, is a confidential document that exists between performer and venue; it's supposed to be an extension of an agreement to perform and it ensures that the venue and the artist reach a successful conclusion of their business arrangement. When we start talking about arenas and the large scale tours undertaken by artists of White's stature, you can be rest assured that there will be a specific rider with details in it that ass clowns will be entertained by and that's fine. You can read about a banana allergy and giggle and there's nothing wrong with that.

Anyone who actually does the work will tell you that the hours are terrible and the pressure is enormous. When you bring 100 or so people to an arena, you have to make your equipment work with theirs and you have to achieve maximum success as quickly as possible. You have time constraints to work with. Sending a crew member out to look for snacks is wasteful and unnecessary--just have a rider and be done with it. Cater in food for your crew and eliminate the distractions. Efficiency really does matter if you want to see a band play on time and for more than a few songs.

Most arenas are in the middle of a vast industrialized area where people do not live; hence, there are no grocery stores and few, if any, restaurants. Can you imagine being in the middle of downtown where the hell or at a socked-in music festival and then have to deal with finding water and food for 100 people? What a nightmare.

Asking people to grow up is a tall order these days. Meanwhile, the professionals will handle the logistics.

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