Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Devil is in the Details: Good, Clean, Christian Fun (Part 2)

While New Orleans is known as the "Big Easy", artist William Christenberry told me during an installation of his art at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans he referred to it as "The City of First Sin." The implication was that New Orleans was visited by the young men of his time to find pleasures not freely available in the countryside. It was in this city, known for easy pleasure, in the late 90's that the New Orleans Convention Center was host to a Christian Youth Music Fest.

A local crew was put together by David Nick, LLC, to provide riggers, lighting, and sound crew to get the Christians sounding and looking good. We were "Team Satan," all dressed in our showblacks, ogling the virgins and making inappropriate comments about the skills of the production crew. Our boss, David Nick, was an awesome guy, but the devil will be welcoming him with open arms. He told tales of drink, drugs, and whores, with new stories everytime he returned from a traveling gig.

We didn't have a problem getting all the equipment ready and the local crew got everything up and running just fine. But all was not well. The hired sound guys never got their act together and after the show opened to the 4,000 kids in attendance, they heard feedback during performances. One of those firing, never-to-be-hired-again, mistakes. But their audio guy just didn't do it once or twice, but many times.

None of us could believe it. And apparently we were too loud in our criticism as the Christian crew backstage cut us off from the free food, and basically treated us as "unclean." After the show ended, the air-conditioning was turned off, the freight doors opened to the humid summer air, and the semis were brought in to be loaded. We got all the gear deinstalled, packed and ready to go... and we waited... and waited. There is an art to directing the flow of equipment into waiting trucks. Crescent Sound and Light had a guy named Bruce who could see everything in his head and presided over the packing of a truck like a conductor.

The Christians could have used Bruce, instead Team Satan took over. Impatient that the job was lasting much longer than needed, David Nick kicked people out of their own truck, placed his best guys in and made it happen. The main truck loaders were a collection of huge black guys from the 9th Ward called the Soul Patrol. They told us what they wanted and we gave it to them. Dimmer pack, light racks, speakers, sound boards, all flew in the trucks. As a punishment for their incompetence, the Soul Patrol packed the heaviest stuff highest. Whoever unpacked these trucks at the warehouse was hating life.

To paraphrase Mae West, "when we were good we were very good, but when we were bad we were better."


The Devil is in the Details: Good, Clean, Christian Fun (Part 1)

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