Staging, Lighting, and Sound, Oh My!

Being up for over 20 straight hours once a year for three years is something I never thought I would actually enjoy. Every year at the end of April, Western New England University puts on Spring Event, where a musician or comedian comes and performs in our field house.

The last two years I worked on the E-Board as the Publicity chair, and this year, I applied and didn’t get the position, but decided to work backstage and help out (mostly because I’ve already done it twice already so I know how things go). My first year we had Boyce Avenue and Andy Grammer. As a sophomore on my first ever E-Board, I felt overwhelmed, but it was a great experience and was why I continued to get involved with the event. Andy Grammer is a wonderful human being (I still have a video of him playing ping-pong in our aerobics room on my phone), and I now hate Fiji Water thanks to Boyce Avenue (long story short: apparently they needed Fiji Water and I got roped into going out to get it. We ended up going to three stores and came back with $90 worth of water like an hour before doors opened).

BA group
E-Board with Boyce Avenue
AG group
E-Board with Andy Grammer

andy grammer

Last year, we managed to get Gabriel Igelsias aka Fluffy. The only trade off was that the show was on a Wednesday night. Everyone on campus was excited to see Fluffy, and the show pretty much sold itself. I worked closely with the Box Office chair, and we were able to get a sellout show between tickets bought before the show and tickets bought day-of at the door. Set up was different because, in addition to the stage, lighting, and sound, we had to set up 1,200 chairs.

All 1,200 chairs in their glory.
view from the track
View from the track.

Fluffy had two openers with him, and he did stand up for about two hours. We practically had to force him off the stage at midnight so we could get everyone out and do breakdown.

E-Board (and meet and greet winners) with Fluffy and his two openers

Fluffy was super down to earth and a great guy. I was in charge of making t-shirts for the E-Board and security, and he ended up posting a picture of the t-shirts on Instagram.

fluffy instagram.jpg
Super cool!

As I previously said, I didn’t get the E-Board position this year, and although I was really disappointed at first, it was less stress for me during the spring semester. The girl who worked on Hospitality last year was doing Production this year, so I offered to help out backstage during the show.

This year was Dan + Shay with Sister C and Brothers Osborne as openers. I was excited to see them perform but felt awkward not being on the E-Board. I knew my help was appreciated, and I knew most people there, but I think I had prided myself so much on having that t-shirt that said “STAFF” on the back and a walkie-talkie that I let it get the best of me.

I tried to focus on the task at hand and have fun backstage. Thursday night we set up the stage, lighting, and sound, and Friday more stuff came in that was already set up by the time I got there at 1:00pm. We were ahead of schedule, so it was more sitting around and waiting until the doors opened. But little did we know that we were going to get to meet the performers before the show. E-Board got to pick a handful of their committee members to go to the meet and greet. The only picture I have so far is the one of me with Dan + Shay.

dan + shay

All of the performers were super nice, and I learned that Brothers Osborne are tall. Like really tall. And everyone smelled good.

me and alex
Alex, who was in charge of Production, and myself before the show started

The crew I was on backstage was in charge of set changes during the show. So after Sister C was done, we went up and got their microphones and moved two speakers off the front of the stage. Brothers Osborne was a little more involved because they had mics, two racks of guitars (there were about 6-7 on each), an entire drum set, and a riser the set was on. We were given 30 minutes to get everything off, but it only took us six. The rest of the time we were helping Brothers Osborne’s roadies get everything packed and into the trailer attached to their bus. One of their guys randomly gave me a guitar pic, so I’m not going to complain.

Oh, I should mention that the group I was in was me, two girls who are Alex’s roommates, six football players, and a hockey player. So we definitely made the guys do the heavy lifting. But they were so funny dancing during the show.

Dan + Shay performed for about an hour and fifteen minutes and they were great. They had such an exciting stage presence, although I swore Shay was going to fall off the front of the stage a few times. They finished at 10:45 and immediately we were on the stage helping their roadies take down all of their equipment. We got everything off – mics, guitars, risers, drum set, and a whole bunch of lights and cords – and packed into their trailer and bus.

Everyone else had already started to take down the stage, but we learned that Brothers and Dan + Shay weren’t leaving until 1:00am and both of their buses were behind the gym. We had to get the staging trucks back there but couldn’t until the buses left, so that set us back until around 1:00am. Then came the fun part: loading the three trucks.

It quickly turned into a haphazard mess, and we were still loading cases and the stage pieces at 3:00am. Most of us had hit the 20+ hour mark of being awake, so it’s safe to say we were starting to lose it. At 3:30am, the majority of us were sent home. Boy was I glad to see my bed.

I set my alarm for 11:45am, but when I was leaving the gym, my phone almost died/was on the fritz, so somehow the alarm I set was set on silent and never went off. I ended up getting up at almost 1:00pm, and I’ve never slept that late before. It sort of messed up my day, but I got done what I had to.

Spring Event is something I’m so happy I became apart of, and it’s given me the opportunity to not only help put on three shows, but meet so many great people in the process.


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