Feature by: Mark Steinwachs
Gallery photos courtesy of Brent Baxter Photography & img stock
Video courtesy of Tenacious D VEVO

Mark Steinwachs spent 12 years on the road touring with all forms of music and theater acts and is now the General Manager at Bandit Lites, an industry leader in concert lighting production.

“Are you kidding me?” I said.

My stomach gurgled angrily, to which my response was rapping on the door, hoping someone in the arena would hear me. “it’s an hour before load-in, you’d think somebody would have opened the—” The door pushed open as I finished, “—fucking door.”

“Thanks,” I said as I brushed by the man. I really didn’t get a good look at him, but with my luck, he was some important venue guy and I probably pissed him off. Great way to start the day. I walked through the upstage center vom into the dimly lit arena floor, the homasote shifted as I walked on it. I barely glanced at the stage and kept focused on the task at hand. Sure, I passed two bathrooms when I came in, but those probably weren’t going to stay private for very long. The bathrooms at the other end of the floor, those should be clean with no one else around, a few minutes of privacy, my last of the day.

I made it there just in time. My stomach problems were getting worse, and that is no good for a guy in my line of work. I got done and finished my morning routine, nothing different about that from anyone else’s really. I looked at my phone, 7:10. Time to get at it. I walked back to the stage and set my bag on the ground underneath the upstage right corner and grabbed my tape measures, gaff tape, and chalk from it. My bag would sit there until we were fully loaded-in and I went to the crew room for a shower. If anyone wanted to steal it, they were only going to get my clothes (some dirty, some clean), a book, my shower kit, and my stage gear. Nothing to write home about.

I found a water fountain and got my chalk wet, then walked to the front of the stage and set my 100’ tape measure and gaff tape up on the deck. I found center and pulled my 25’ tape measure from my belt, making a mark four feet from the downstage edge. I slipped into my groove and marked the stage left point, then stage right, the cable pick, and fall arrestor. There was a pretty good-looking grid, so dead hangs should be the order of the day. I hopped up on deck. With no stairs in place, this was getting to be a little more difficult for me. I marked the centerline on stage and stood up to look around. For me this is the start of a show day. The whole show gets built around that C with a line through it. In less then twelve hours this arena was going to be full of people trying to forget about all their problems for one night and I played a small part in making that happen. I taped the start of my 100’ tape measure in place and pulled it straight back to the upstage edge of the stage and taped it down again. We were three weeks into the tour and I had my rigging plot memorized and started marking the motor points on the stage. I knew I would shift some points today to make them the ever popular dead hangs, but I would wait for the local riggers for that.

About halfway through, the lights began to turn on and warm up. I pulled out my phone, 7:30. About ten more minutes and I would be done and ready for breakfast. I marked my last point on the midstage truss when I heard a voice from the vom I had walked through about thirty minutes earlier, “What are you doing up there?”
I looked over to a weather-worn gentleman with gray hair. I would have bet my life savings that he was the steward here. “Morning,” I said, walking to the edge of the stage to meet him. “I’m Xavier. Lighting crew chief and defacto rigger.” “Morning, Xavier. I’m Paul, I’ll be your steward for the day. Did you get permission to mark the stage early? We don’t normally do that unless we have one of our riggers here.” This is not what I wanted to hear. That’s 0-2 for the day and it’s still a half hour till we load in. “I’m really sorry about that, no one told me. I’ll stop.” “How many points do you have left?” he asked. “Six and a fall arrestor.”

“Finish it up, but don’t let me catch you in here on the next tour doing that. Got it?” “Thank you, Paul. I got it.” I said, and went back to work before he was off the floor. I finished the last points up and packed up my bag. Twenty minutes before load-in. Time for breakfast.

Now where the hell is catering?

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