how an event at even one of the more celebrated professional venues can seem terribly unprofessional:

this last weekend, i was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to play red rocks. for those unfamiliar, red rocks is a naturally formed amphitheater in the foothills of colorado. it is very scenic, and many bands and performers hold it in very high regard.

that said, i am very grateful that i had the privilege to play such a place. even the second stage, which was set up on the upper plaza, on the opposite side of the audience from the main stage, offered a terrific view. unfortunately, everything else about the gig, at least from my perspective, was poorly planned and completely unorganized.

the second stage for this event was thrown together at the last minute. bands were emailed less than a week before the show, which had me scrambling to cover my scheduled shift at work (i ended up having to get someone from another theater to sit in after i came in early and set everything up for him so that he didn't have to really do any work), and my band (i don't know abut the others) wasn't given our load-in time until the night before. additionally, that was the ONLY detail provided to us. we were not told how many other bands were playing, or who the other bands were. we were not told whether or not we would be paid for the gig. we were not told WHAT TIME WE WOULD BE PLAYING. we were not told whether or not we were allowed a guest list. we were not told whether or not food or drinks or water would be provided. only that we were to load in at 1:00.

we arrived at red rocks at 1:00, as instructed. we were aware of the other bands playing, thanks to the ads that ran in the local papers that week. we did not know who to check in with, as the promoter, or stage manager, or whoever it was that sent us the email, was not around. the employees working the door/gate/entrance were about as helpful as they could be, they gave us wristbands and let us load our stuff in. our guitarist got stung by a bee during this process. we set our gear down on the side of the stage, and drank some of the provided water (hooray! they have water for us!). our singer brought a bottle of vitamin water, but it had gotten warm on the drive up, so he put in in the ice to cool it down. one of the red rocks staff dudes started barking orders at us to help set things up, but he didn't seem to know what he was talking about because the tasks he tried to delegate to us were things that were very clearly the jobs of actual paid staff, and when we did try to help them, they told us they had it pretty well covered. at one point, event staff dude handed me a snake and said "figure out what this plugs into." he also stole our singer's vitamin water.

at that time, there still was no show schedule provided. none of the sound guys knew, none of the other bands had any idea, and none of us knew when we'd be clued in. one of the other bands was already setting up on stage, so we figured at least we knew we weren't going to play first. this is about a half an hour before the venue is scheduled to start letting people in.

i decided to try and find out if we had a guest list. the folks at the entrance we loaded in from told me to talk to the box office, so i went looking for the box office. another event staffer offered to help me find who i needed to talk to, and after about 15 minutes of walking around, we found another staffer who was able to call the box office shuttle guy (the box office is apparently a shuttle ride away from the entrance) and have him come around to help us. after a couple minutes, a white van pulls up, and the driver asks for names to put on the list. i guess we do get a guest list! i gave him a couple names and he drove off, and i headed back up to the second stage area. still no information on the show schedule, an hour from the advertised start time.

by this time, all the initially-provided waters had been consumed, and there would be no more brought out for the remainder of the time that we were there. one of the other members asked about getting more water for the bands, and they were told they could buy some.

at 4:25, five minutes before the advertised start time, our sound man received the show schedule. this schedule had the first band starting at 4:15 (smooth), and for whatever reason it was not the band that had already set up. that band was cool with playing first, except that their singer had not yet arrived. why the band from colorado springs whose singer was still at work set up first, i do not know, but that was where we were at. they waited ten minutes, and then started their set, sans singer. the guy showed up in the middle of the third song, and basically ran straight through the crowd and jumped onstage. it was actually pretty cool.

it had looked like it was going to rain for about a half an hour, so the crew brought out a tarp just in case. during that first set it did start to rain, but no one took action. my band took the initiative to cover all the bands' gear, and as we were doing that, the sound guys came to help us cover their stuff too. the other two bands didn't seem to notice.

the first band finished up right before the first main stage band started their set. even though we were off schedule, that seemed like that the way it should work. my band was scheduled (by order, not time) to play next, so we set up and sound checked and got started just a few minutes after the first main stage band finished their set. there were a few issues with the monitors (sound cutting out occassionally), and it was raining, but overall the set was okay. we cut three songs, and even still the next main stage band started during our last one. we might've cared more if the crowd was interested in watching us, but they didn't seem to mind, so we didn't either.

after we got our stuff off stage, i took out my phone, and found i had a message from our friend that we put on the guest list. apparently the instructions we were given to give to him were completely misleading, and it took him 45 minutes to even find where he needed to go before being told that he was, in fact, not on any guest list.

when i went to pull my car in to pack up our gear, i asked the security guy by the entrance where i could park. he said i could park in the driveway just in front of the gate, so i did, and i went to grab our stuff. upon my return with arms full of drums, i was scolded by the door/gate/entrance guy and told to move my car as soon as i put in what i was carrying. coincidentally, while putting those drums away, an old friend of mine greeted me from the line to get in. i said a quick hello, and was promptly scolded again to move my car. the door guy reiterated once more as i loaded in the last of what i had carried up. it may be petty, but after a long day, it is THE MOST IRRITATING THING IN THE WORLD.

after finally getting everything packed up, the band unanimously agreed that it was best to leave and go unwind somewhere that doesn't suck so much. we picked up our non-guest listed friend from the box office, and left, more bitter than we've ever been.

now, two days later, i am still unsure whether or not we will be compensated for our time and effort. not once did i meet, speak to, or even see the guy who was supposed to be in charge of the second stage. i don't know if we missed something, as a band, like maybe we did something wrong, but even as exciting as playing such a cool venue was, it was terribly disappointing.