Goth night in Centennial (d*c entry #2)

Backstage: it's not what you'd expect. It's more, it's less, it's completely different from what you've imagined. The world behind the curtain is very, very different from the world that the fans see.

Godhead and Clutch performed back-to-back on one of the last nights of the convention. The setup had been bad, the soundchecks were later than scheduled, and from what we were hearing on our radios, we had a riot brewing outside. Some all-knowing fire marshal had decided that the crowd in the lobby was exceeding safe capacity, so everyone waiting to be let in for the Godhead/Clutch concert got bullied and shepherded outside with bullhorns.By normal time, it was late in the evening—somewhere around 10 p.m.—but by convention time, the evening was just getting started. The exhaustion was being kind enough to hold itself at bay, causing nothing more than a bit of fuzziness around the edge of my vision and a vague headache—but more pressing on my mind was the question, Are we going to have a riot tonight before all this ends?

The convention had been going too well. As Jody put it, "The Fuckup Fairy is looking for us, and she's pissed."

And here I was, sitting backstage in a grimy shirt and shorts that hadn't been washed in a few days, blue hair extensions clipped into my hair to identify me as tech staff, sitting backwards on the same type of chair we provided for the audience, and looking at the division between crowd area and backstage.

When you're wondering if there's going to be a riot outside due to pissy fire marshals shooing out a thousand semi-drunken goths from the hotel lobby, a mere cloth curtain serving as a divider doesn't look like much.

The bands weren't in much better moods. Nobody had shown up with backstage passes for their friends and family, so everyone who didn't have a backstage pass was getting interrogated every ten minutes by every staffer and security person who passed backstage. In a vague attempt to remedy the situation, I'd introduced myself to the band members of Godhead and told them if they kept having problems, to send the people to me.

A few minutes later, someone wearing a tech headset flinched visibly. "Someone's throwing empty beer bottles from the seventeenth floor onto the pool deck," she said.

At this point, I'm wondering if I should just go to my room and hide—but no, I have work to do, so I pull up a chair. Turn it around backwards, rest my chin on the back, stare at the curtain. People are starting to trickle in now. The nervousness begins to get to me—if the crowd is going to be pissy and start throwing stuff around, I really don't want to be separated from them by a few swaths of cloth.

A hand clamped on my shoulder. Jody. Oompa, we call him. "The bands need Gatorade for after the concert." My look—where am I supposed to find that?—must have been pretty plain. He shrugged and grinned. "Find a way. Make it happen. We need it in thirty minutes."

I run around the hotel. Asking questions of people who don't know the answers. Gatorade? No, we don't have any.

Then it dawns on me—we're going to have to use the tech staff Gatorade stash down in Harris. I corral Jeremy; we head downstairs to Harris. Sean finds an empty water jug—the kind that bottled water is dispensed from—and I get directions to the hotel kitchen to fill it up with water. Sean brings it back to the tech staff room, and we create a makeshift funnel and dump every bit of powdered Gatorade (orange) into it. Sean shakes the bottle until it's all dissolved, and we take a taste.

It's terrible. It needs more powder. We don't have any—but … wait, we have a half-empty can of Powerade powder. Flavor? Fruit punch or something like that. Either way, it's red, and it won't conflict too badly with what's already in the jug. Makeshift funnel again, and in goes the powdered Powerade.

Shake again, and taste. It's not great, and the flavor is unrecognizable, but it's all they're going to get. I put it on a cart and take it upstairs, where the jug is set up, placed on a table, and left for the band. I take the cart back to Harris, and rejoice over having accomplished the impossible once again.

The lobby has quietened down. Most of the people milling around before have gone in to see the concert. Security is standing around and looking nervous, and the fire marshal has laid down strips of yellow gaffer's tape to mark exit lanes from the doors that have to be kept clear, but even the drunk conventioneers seem to have calmed down.

I head toward the door for backstage. Ahead of me is a surly fellow who blows off the security person and keeps walking. I'd talked earlier in the evening with the woman who was staffing the door, and she knows I'm staff. She points at the man's advancing back and says, "He doesn't have a backstage pass."

At that point, my favorite epithet comes out of my mouth: "Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket." Just what we need. I hope he's a band member. If he's a gate-crasher, I'm tempted to just rip his throat out. Either way—as a conventioneer or a band member, he should know better than to blow off security.

I catch up with him backstage. I put my hand on his shoulder and turn him around. "May I see your badge?"

"I don't need a goddamn badge; I'm the fucking singer for Clutch." He's got a guest tag, but so do a ton of people at this convention. His badge says nothing about a band, and given his current pissy attitude, I'm not terribly inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

"I wouldn't know you from God himself." I look around frantically—thinking, can I please have some backup here? he's bigger than me!—and holler to the staff members, "Can we get some confirmation that this guy is who he says he is?" Larger men from tech staff show up and start asking him questions. Whoever he is—singer or not—he can get pissed and just get over it.

At that point, I decided I'd had it for the time being. I went downstairs. Kat gave me some mead. I decided it was time to take an hour or two off, so I turned my badge around so that it looked like a regular convention attendee's, and wandered off to relax somewhere with some friends.

So, if you wonder about what's going on behind the stage curtain, don't sweat it. You're probably having more fun than they are!