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Riders: Not the Norm Pt.1

Back in the mid 90s I used to work with my brother Tom Padgett at a nightclub in Indianapolis called Sports Live which was a huge rock n roll club and sports bar complex with 2 stages, one for small local acts and the main stage which is where we had larger local, regional and national acts perform. The main stage section of the bar was able to hold about 950 people and was a pretty huge space to fill so we would do the occasional concert featuring a touring act playing venues of our size. 

 We hosted shows featuring some venerable acts of the day including The Smithereens, Bush, Candlebox, Letters to Cleo and other grunge-era notables. My brother Tom was the Entertainment Director and as his assistant it usually fell to me to take care of the arrangements for our out of town guests upon arrival. In other words, I was in charge of the contract riders fulfillment, the most interesting part of my job. 

A contract rider is a stipulation in a contract for the performance that dictates a variety of technical requirements, stage design, lighting and audio equipment specs and a wish list of items that the artists are requesting. This is where it always gets interesting. The rider is where the unusual requests bands make are always placed, such as the famous request by Van Halen in their 1982 tour to have bowls of M&M’s with all the brown ones removed. It was my job to handle those kinds of requests and I experienced a few doozies in my day. 

Luckily for us we now have the Internet and The Smoking Gun website with their Backstage Pass section to view some of the more entertaining riders of today. I’m gonna take you through some of the more amusing ones from that site today, and we will probably return to this well in the future as I discover more intriguing ones in the future. 

First up, a look at the Foo Fighters. TSG actually has two different riders for the guys from Foo Fighters, one from last year in 2008 and the other from 2000 from which we can compare and contrast the differences. The Foo Fighters rider from last year has become a legend in humorous riders fans circles and has been passed around in countless emails amongst concert biz insiders. Some of the 2008 items and requests are as follows:

  • A request for signs visibly posted at the crew entrance prior to arrival pointing the way to the catering area. Reason given: "Fat roadies must eat immediately so they can begin their arduous 70-90 minute workday"
  • On the breakfast menu section, a request for "Selection of cereal – unopened. Do not recycle from last night’s Dio show"
  • "Every lunch should include a Soup of the Day, please try to make it a vegetarian selection. Meaty soups make roadies fart"
  • An entire section imploring the caterer to "think outside the box as it pertains to the chicken breast"
  • A section devoted to "cool things to do with meat and meat examples" including a request for "Big ass kielbasas that make men self conscious"
  • A request for "1 bag of Pirate Booty, not Johnny Depp’s"
  • A request for "24 large bath towels – if they are new and unwashed you will receive a wedgie"

 And the list goes on for 26 pages. On to the more interesting items from their 2000 tour rider:

  • A stipulation on the number of tickets and backstage passes the band will need is discussed. In that section the venue is instructed that backstage passes must be approved by Foo Fighters’ tour manager. "Any house or venue backstage passes are null and void. The old "resume on a rope" is not permitted"
  • A dressing room provision for Heating or Air Conditioning "as is customary in modern times"
  • "4 pairs of white tube socks (US Size 10-13)"
  • "12 cans of Cran beverages. Ocean Spray or some other reputable cranberry company"
  • "1 fresh vegetable and cheese tray with hummus, pita bread and crackers (for 8 people). REMEMBER, CAULIFLOWER BLOWS"
  • "1 deli tray of various cheeses (Cheese, unlike humans, does not sweat) – DAVE LOVES STINKY CHEESE – please refrigerate until requested.
  • "Ten energy bars – Tiger Milk or granola type bars. Ask a hippy for better suggestion."

 Pretty entertaining if you ask me, but not entirely unreasonable. Some of the more outlandish requests are made by artists who would surprise you. If you have the time you should go digging through some of the riders on display at the Smoking Gun website. Its a great way to kill hours of time.

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Joh Padgett

Joh Padgett

I do the music column on Saturdays and the Primordial Grooves playlist on The Seminal blog on Sundays. I also own Layman Media, a social media production company in Indianapolis and I love cheese.