The entire gym is without power. 1500 people are standing around with nothing to entertain them but free beach balls and drugs. Three electricians are scratching their heads in the 120 degree room where something electrical stopped working, and The Roots’ drummer ?uest Love has missed his flight. There is no power, and potentially no band. People keep asking me when the power will be back on…as if I know.
This past Saturday was Springfest, the biggest show put on by SA Concerts (or UVM Concerts bureau as its now called). Jenna Gabriel and I are Co-Presidents of the club and had been planning the show for roughly six months. We had put together what we believed to be an awesome line up, securing both The Roots and Thievery Corporation, along with supporting bands. We were well ahead of schedule in most aspects of planning and in many senses we were on top of things. This did not however, prevent some epicly bad luck.
Wednesday, 2:45 PM (3 Days Before Springfest)
We receive word that ?uest Love, drummer, icon, and face of The Roots, had independently booked a show Friday night, and would not be able to make it to the show.
Wednesday, 3:50 PM
After exploring flight options (including private charter jets) it is determined that there is NO WAY that ?uest can make it to Burlington before 4:45.
Wednesday, 4:36 PM
We decide to push the show times back, to accommodate ?uest Love. Our middle agent has to run this by ?uest’s management, and says that we will hear tomorrow. It is still not clear if we will be having The Roots at Springfest, despite them having signed a lengthy contract that said otherwise. It is around this time that there is no way to have the show outside, and the decision is made to hold the show in the gym.
Thursday (2 Days Before Springfest)
Tensions are high waiting for word back from The Roots. It starts to sink in that the show will be inside, and calls are made to vendors and staff who will no longer be able to participate. There is not a whole lot of work to do…the quiet before the storm.
Friday, 10:05 PM (The Day Before Springfest)
Because our place in the gym was reserved only as a backup to having it outside, we had to wait untill 10 for a AAU basketball game to get out to start setting up the stage. Stage setup is back breaking work, but we get it done quickly. Most of us get home by midnight, but all of us have to be up at 5 AM Saturday morning to start work on the show.
The day is a bit of a blur to me in retrospect. Sleep deprivation and a constant feeling of everything going wrong seems to have done something to my memory… What I do remember is after the student bands had finished, and Lazerdisk Partysex had started their transition, all the lights went out. It wasn’t just the speakers…everything…pitch black. A few seconds later the emergency lights kicked on to dimly light what was a clearly disgruntled crowd. I quickly called the power company, stupidly thinking it would help. Radio reports from the basement informed us all of electrical rooms that were as hot as saunas, but no word as to how, or when, we would get power back. After some intense arguing/yelling/talking, we decided to order a backup generator. Sometime around this point we were informed that ?uest Love had missed his flight. Things did not look good, especially with the dim overhead emergency lights flickering on everything.
I talked to the Brothers McCann’s manager about their drummer getting onstage to just entertain the crowd for a little. He did not seem into it, but after a little discussion we decided that it would be good for the crowd, electric guitars or no. The drummer hopped on stage and every ear in the audience perked up. In what seemed like a few seconds, all the members of the Brothers McCann were on stage, belting out an acustic set. It was one of the greatest concert moments I have seen. The Brothers really saved what was already a dwindling crowd and instilled a little hope into what was basically a hopeless situation.
After what seemed like two hours (it was more like 30 mins) the generator arrived. I had to (temporarily) steal a truck to make room for it to park. Initially there was concern that we couldn’t even use the generator because of concern that the exhaust would get sucked up by the buildings air intake…luckily the intake didn’t work because THERE WAS NO ELECTRICITY. Once everything was hooked up, the sound guy played a track off his ipod and the crowd went nuts.
Once the genny was hooked up, the Brothers McCann got on stage with full power to their guitars. At this point they only had a short amount of time to play their set, but they killed the time they did have. Up next was Thievery Corporation, spinning a DJ set. I would be lying if I said I saw much of it…I was more concerned with wether or not The Roots were going to go on.
Around the time Thievery was finishing, we received word that ?uest had landed. Lazerdisk did a quick, but impressive set and it was time for The Roots.
Our advisor FM, insisted that Jenna and I get on stage and say something. I was a bit nervous, but after tossing out a few t-shirts to the crowd, the vibe was good. Unfortunately the mic was not working. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t embarassing to try to speak into a dead mic in front of 2000 people, but who cares, The Roots were about to go on!
The Roots charged the stage just after we left it, and performed and incredible set. They saved the show, and made everyones wait worth it.
For those that stayed, it was a great show, despite the outage.