The Strength to Carry On

I don’t consider myself someone who is necessarily strong. Sure I played soccer for 13 years so I have some leg power, but my arms are another story. There is a time where this weakness is put to the test: load in and out. This strength test happens before a concert when we load in all the sound equipment, instruments, back line and if it is a large scale concert the stage and lighting. The Wilson Concert Series has required me to put my arms to the test 3 times this semester. This year I have loaded in for Corey Smith, the Wale, Jason Derulo and DJ Earworm show, Cartel, B.o.B and now finally Sara Bareilles. You would think I could bench a log by now but that is not the case.

Yesterday’s load in began at 11:30 am with sound arriving. Around 15 of my Center Stage crew along with UPB exec lugged the speakers, cable cords and sound board into Wilson Hall. Once these things were in place we moved on to the back line at 1:00pm. The back line is a wide variety of cords, instruments, and equipment that will remain on the stage. Our sound company and Sara Bareilles’ tour manager lead us in the organization of equipment so that when the audience arrives the stage looks organized instead of a chaos of wires.

One important part of a stage appearance is something that the audience normally does not notice. The drum risers, which lift a piano or drum or DJ booth around 2 feet above the ground, allow the audience to see those members of the band who are placed father back stage. The day before the concert these large 4×8 pieces are moved into the venue. 2 pieces create one riser so for this show we have 4 pieces to create 2 drum risers. The next time you see something raised on stage silently commend the lifter of those pieces, they are not light.

Sara’s crew is late so back line doesn’t arrive until 2:00pm. After sitting around for an hour we are ready to return to moving the expensive sound pieces. Once all these pieces are in place we continue to prepare the venue for the 1200 people coming in less than 5 hours. Signage explaining the legalities of the venue are put in place along the walls. The merchandise area is allocated with tables and workers organizing the t-shirts and cds. Line stanchions go near the doors for the early attendees to form a line. This show is general admission so it is first come first serve in terms of seating.

The venue is now ready and it is 5:00pm; time for sound check. The volunteers go home to rest their muscles and prepare themselves for the show, their call time is in an hour. I settle down into a chair and allow Sara Bareilles to serenade me while they play with the balance of the instruments, voice and vibrations of the venue. Only 2 hours until show time and the validation of planning since July is about to become a reality.

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