This is Tour Manager James checking in from the Orlando, FL date of Van’s Warped Tour 2012. For the last month, I have been riding aboard the OurStage.com tour bus with Larry G(ee) and his band, as well as a few stage hands, and thought it might be a nice change of pace to shed some light on my day-to-day life here on the world’s largest traveling music festival.
Every morning, I rise around 7:00am and check with our driver (Jens) to learn about our arrival time and whatever information he is able to offer about the venue. We arrive and I wake up Larry so he and I can begin promoting the day’s performance. We stroll the venue, setup merch, locate stages, promote on social networks, drink coffee, and sweat the equivalent of roughly two gallons of water before getting the day’s set times at 10am. Once that happens, the grounds become a rampage of managers and promo kids doing their best to get the word out about their act’s time. It’s hectic, it’s crazy, it’s Warped before gates.
Once the gates open, the real day can finally begin. The band and I regroup from our morning promotion then set off to promote within the gates until (and usually after) the performance. When Larry has somewhere to be, something gig-related to do, or when the band is in need, I’m there. When they perform, I’m there both as manager and photographer. On the rare occasion the day allows for me to have some time to explore the grounds, I do my best to catch as many sets as possible (most of which I’ve shared on the OS Warped Tumblr) and, if at all possible, shower.
Evening brings a cooler temperature, but our efforts never end before dark. I assist Larry and his band as needed, begin packing up our belongings, and do my best to catch a glimpse of the sunset before diving into some editing work on the day’s photos. It’s tiring, and most of the time you want to sleep for days on end, but the night Warped Tour crew BBQ keeps us up and lifts even the lowest spirits. It’s one of those rare moments when everyone from main stage to catering is really together, and not one has passed that’s let us down.
After all this, Larry, his band, the crew, and I return to the bus and exchange stories before bed. It’s a long, long day, but one you’re always excited to begin again in the morning.
I’ll be writing another entry next week highlighting my favorite moments of this tour, but for now, here are a few of my favorite images thus far:
More like this:
With summer right around the corner, we can’t help but be totally stoked for Warped Tour. In case you haven’t heard, we’ll be sponsoring our own stage for twenty-two dates and bringing twenty-three artists out to perform on it. Twenty-two acts will snag a performance at their local tour stop, and Dallas native Larry g(EE) will be rocking the stage at each and every date. In addition, there are a handful of other OurStage artists already booked to play various dates of the tour. We decided to catch up with them to get the scoop on their summer plans.
Bassist Wes Hoffman is one of eight members in The Constellations, an OurStage band with a plan for world domination. This eclectic Atlanta group mixes elements of R&B, indie rock, blues and electronica, creating music that pleases people of all ages and backgrounds. We caught up with Wes to talk about the Atlanta music scene, who comes to their shows and what it’s like to work with the one and only Cee-Lo Green.
OS: You guys have eight members in the band. How did all of you meet?
WH: We met in Atlanta, through various other projects…work…the Atlanta music scene is pretty small, everyone kind of bumps shoulders with everybody. Myself and Elijah [Jones, vocalist] were involved in other projects before The Constellations, so we met each other doing that. My project came to a sliding halt and I started getting involved with other stuff, like booking shows. Before I was a member of the band, I actually booked them a couple times. I was trying to get them on this one show and the guy that was playing bass at the time couldn’t do it because he was out of town with his other band. I offered to fill in and that was almost three years ago.
OS: Since your music spans a few genres, do you see a significant mix of people in the crowd at your shows?
WH: Parents come to the show with their kids and they’re both fans, believe it or not! [laughs] Some of the hip-hop/soul kids that are there for the rhythms, and then there’s hipsters, standing there with their arms crossed, and then there’s people dancing, having a good time. It’s totally across the board, as far as age goes, too…young kids to grown adults, which is cool.
Every day, somebody once told me, deserves its own soundtrack. So, according to Hollywood, does nearly every film. But unlike the old days when the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack became as popular as the movie, and films like Dirty Dancing and The Big Chill had soundtracks so successful that they spawned sequels, movie music rarely scales blockbuster heights anymore.
On the Billboard 200 album chart for the week ending January 21, Hollywood only had two albums in the Top 40”the soundtracks for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. So did Florence and the Machine!
Unless the music is linked to the TV series Glee, chart traction is no longer guaranteed, not even for songs from the biggest blockbusters. Bruno Mars scored one of the few big movie hits of recent years with his Twilight Saga track “It Will Rain” (No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100), which, astonishingly, was the first chart hit launched by the massively successful vampire franchise.
Nowadays, the studios and indie houses seem to use all of the best music in the movie trailers anyway. Better to hear a familiar pop song (say, Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”) selling a Julia Roberts rom-com (say, Eat Pray Love) than to have to sit through the millionth comic-relief/release oldie sing-along just as the main characters are triumphing over plot-driven (and driving) conflict.
Maybe I just don’t see as many mainstream films as I used to back when Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton had their I-will-survive moment in The First Wives Club while singing “You Don’t Own Me,” but thankfully, the number of soundtrack sing-alongs have been waning in recent years.
Still, despite the dearth of hit soundtracks and Motown karaoke moments, music is alive and well in the movies. Here’s how it’s being best put to use these days.
1. To Wake Up Moviegoers: The Constellations‘ “Perfect Day” in Horrible Bosses. Not that anyone needed to be roused from slumber during what was a surprisingly smart and spry comedy, but for those who did doze off and missed the sight of Jennifer Aniston wearing next to nothing, this 2010 track (watch the video here) was the perfect wake-up bomb.
2. To Illuminate the Action”: Desire’s “Under Your Spell” in Drive. Just in case you didn’t get that Ryan Gosling was digging Carey Mulligan in Drive (and the film didn’t exactly, um, drive that point home before deciding that he would die for her), this song’s opening lyric””I don’t eat/I don’t sleep/I do nothing but think of you“” told the entire love story in under twenty words. More than any film in my recent memory, Drive merges sound and vision so brilliantly that I don’t think the movie would have been nearly as effective without its perfectly placed music.
3. To Reflect the Action: Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde in Melancholia. Who better than the man who wrote an entire opera cycle, Gotterdammerung, devoted to the twilight of the Norse Gods, to provide the backing track for a movie about the end of the world? I’ve always imagined that something by the nineteenth-century German composer would be playing in the background, via some invisible loudspeaker in the sky, when the end of days rolled around.
4. To bring on the waterworks: The National’s “About Today” in Warrior. If you weren’t moved, at least nearly driven to tears, by the family drama or the opening strains of the National’s 2004 track, cued right after the brothers played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton re-bonded in the mixed-martial-arts ring, then check the space where your heart should be. There might be something missing.
5. To score an award”or at the very least, a Top 40 hit: Madonna’s “Masterpiece” in W.E. Its Top 40 prospects are grim, but the song Madonna wrote and sung for her second directorial effort is already a Golden Globe Best Original Song winner. Unfortunately, this is the end of its road to the Oscars. To be eligible for a Best Original Song Oscar nod, a tune must be composed specifically for the movie and appear in its body or be the first song that plays when the credits roll. “Masterpiece,” alas, was the second credits tune. By saving the best for last, Madonna killed her Oscar chances. Better luck next film song!
No discussion of the last twelve months in music would be complete without a proper shout out to Adele, the blue-eyed, soulful Brit who ruled 2011 with one album (the multiply GRAMMY-nominated 21) and two No. 1 singles (“Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You”), so here we go.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s what was hot and not about the rest.
1. Drake: Last year, he called his debut album Thank Me Later, so now feels like the right time to express our genuine appreciation for the Canadian rapper who balances tough and tender so perfectly. With his second album, Take Care, and two of its key cuts, in particular”the fantastic first single “Headlines” and the title track (featuring Rihanna)”he brought sexy back to rap for the first time since ladies loved (LL) Cool J.
2. Girls on film: From Britney Spears’ “Till the World Ends” to Lady Gaga’s “Judas” to Jennifer Lopez’s “I’m Into You” to Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” it was an excellent year for women in pop videos. But it was Ke$ha in “Blow,” Kelly Rowland in “Motivation” and Rihanna in “We Found Love” that injected new energy into a decades-old art form and elevated it above and beyond promotional tool to indispensable companion piece.
3. Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams “Moanin'” on American Idol: I didn’t love the bulk of their solo performances during the 10th season of Idol, but when Reinhart and Abrams came together on the Top 8 results show for the vocalese version of Charles Mingus’ “Moanin’,” the unexpected result was the best musical moment I saw all season.
4. Diana DeGarmo on The Young and the Restless: Speaking of Idol losers, season three’s runner-up’s stint as Angelina on daytime’s No. 1 soap hasn’t been so well-received by critics or fans, but I dissent. There’s both artistry and comedic gold in DeGarmo’s portrayal of a tone-deaf “singer” and daughter of a New Jersey mob boss, and I’m looking forward to being as wowed by her Pygmalion-style makeover as I was by her Idol rendition of “Don’t Cry Out Loud” all those years ago.