Don’t Sugar Coat the Storm!

I’m posting this one about tough weather roadie’s face in their travels. Living in South Florida I helped a lot of local bands in my area and I faced a lot of adverse weather issues. Hurricane season came every year and every year we had to develop a strategy to cope with potential disaster. I remember one year setting up for some bands for an outside festival.


When we first got there, our area was under hurricane watch; after we were done setting up we heard on the radio that it was now a hurricane warning. These things happen that fast. Everybody was pretty worried at that point, and you could see it outside, we were in a covered stage but still in the open air. We could feel the wind building and see the dark and gloomy clouds; but the thing is when people set up these shows months in advance once it is play time, no one wants to back down because no one wants to give all of those fans a refund.

So that is why sometimes tragedy happens, that was the case a few years ago in Indiana when Sugar Band was performing right in the middle of a tornado. Everyone could see weather outside was horrible but no one dared say they were going to cancel because big money was riding on the event, and really it is this kind of complacency that trickles down to everyone else involved. The managers don’t care and act like the weather means nothing so no one else moves a muscle and keeps on acting like everything is fine and then this influences the fans who otherwise would probably just go home, but since the promoters and facility crews act like nothing is wrong, the fans just shrug off the wind and rain and continue to hang out.

I’ve seen this happen many times myself, putting the musicians, technicians and fans in unnecessary danger. Really, even forcing a band to play through a simple thunderstorm is too much. If lighting hit in the wrong place the whole stage could become an electrocution board. These things are serious but they are not taken that way by big music moguls.

Like I was saying about my own personal experience, that time in Florida when we finished setting up and immediately after a hurricane warning went out; we were pretty much told to disregard it or get fired. And most of us just needed the money so we carried on. That’s the music biz; the show must go on, yes, that is the catchphrase.

In our case we lucked out, it looked really scary and bad out, but we were just in the perimeter of the hurricane during most of the show. In the end though it was shortened, local officials declared that all unnecessary personnel needed to get off the road and stay indoors. So we rushed it to a close, shut down the shop and went home early. The bosses only grumbled a little bit, but even they couldn’t hold back when county officials put their foot down.