The hierarchy of rock

Finally made it home in one piece – or almost. Got sick in the process, but it’s worth it. I’m never sick more than a day or two, so I’ll be good to go when it’s time for the next trip to Thessaloniki, Greece next week for the Stop That Sound 2310 festival. Once again with Whitesnake and Judas Priest. :-) And of course Firewind, playing in their own hometown.

Then flying straight from Greece to the UK for the Sonisphere festival, and then back home again. Another week of very little sleep, but I can handle it.
An Australian friend called me a “rock’n’roll camel” earlier today.
“You store the nutrition and fluid in your humps for long periods without – and you travel long distances”. Where do people come up with this stuff, lol! ;-P

Anyway – Graspop 2011 was very different from Graspop 2010 for me. I played totally different roles and lived in totally different worlds, and you really need to be a split personalilty to be able to do that I think…

In 2010 I had every backstage-pass there was – I looked like a Christmas tree! I spent most of my time in the backstage area, relaxing, schmoozing, talking to people, hanging with Jon Oliva’s band and crew, just somehow not being a part of the craziness that was taking place outside, at the actual festival site.

Almost time for GRASPOP 2011!

Every now and then we went outside our little “den” and checked out some band, standing either on the side of the stage with the other “cool people” or on a safe distance somewhere – cause it’s very uncool to “mix with the rabble”…


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THIS year, I was joined on my trip by a dear friend, Bianca, who e-mailed me one day and said that she was craving for a concert experience, and asked if she could go with me to Graspop. That means that I didn’t do the “cool” thing this year, I was down there with the rest of the crowd, getting as muddy and soaked as everybody else. And frankly, in many ways, that’s a lot more fun.

Quite honestly though, I felt slightly weird checking out Firewind early Saturday afternoon.
The reason being, as I wrote to reply on a comment in this blog this morning:
“I must have looked damn professional standing front row in a rain poncho with my camera!
Some things dawn on you afterwards, when you realize what impression you must be leaving on people…! I suck at being cool, might as well learn to live with it.”

As much as I shouldn’t have to feel weird about it, I still do because it was only about a week ago that I was having a relaxed conversation with Gus two hours before he went on stage with Ozzy at Sweden Rock Festival. This time, when I wasn’t in that “VIP-world” for a second, it’s like it turned out kind of weird. You always need to remember the different roles you play in this business.

The best example would be when I thought I should go and say hi. I went to the signing-session that Firewind had at 5 pm, figured I’d sneak in and wave or whatever. But when I saw the long line of people, I thought that there was NO way I would stand in THAT line.Forget it.

So I went backstage, right after the signing session. Seemed like the most natural thing to do. However, sometimes things that are perfectly normal in your head, can turn out very wrong, seen from a different perspective.
As I was standing there, replying to a text message, it suddenly dawned on me that considering the different role I was in this time, this whole thing was ALL wrong if you were to follow the unwritten rules.

Instead of a friendly hello, it felt like I really shouldn’t be there at all, given the circumstances.
First I had been in the crowd watching the show, then I was at the signing thing and now I was here. Fuck, wrrooong! But it was too late to leave. No Scotty to beam me up.

Gus is a polite and nice guy so he was just as cool as always, whereas I once again learned that you can’t mix apples and pears. If you are part of the crowd – you have to stay there. If you are a part of the backstage-people, then it would have been okay. But you can’t be both.
Not at the same time. I should have learned after all these years, but sometimes I forget.

See, there IS a hierarchy in rock just as much as there is in a royal dynasty.

It looks something like this:

ON THE  THRONE – COOLEST OF THEM ALL – GODS, HEROES….

Rockstar

The BAND / artist


Important as hell:

Manager of the band, tour manager (those are not necessarily the same person) record company people, management people

Little less important as hell but people are jealous of them cause they’ve got a crew pass:

Roadies, stage manager, guitar-, bass-, drum techs, light techs, sound guys etc…

Other VIP-people, in pretty much that order:

A. Friends of the band (normally other musicians), girlfriends, wives or groupies who are allowed to stand on the stage behind the stacks and shit, and watch the show.

B. Journalists and/or chosen webmasters of the band.

C. Photographers

D. Security people

…and then on the absolute bottom of the Rock’n’roll-importance hierarchy, at least at shows and festivals – THE FANS. In other words, the people who are paying for everything, because without them the bands wouldn’t be selling any albums or get people to their shows – which in turn means that the managers wouldn’t make any money either, and there would be no need for a crew. No groupies would bother hanging around a band that’s not successful and no journalists or photographers would waste their time writing about or taking pics of a band that has no fans.

So, it’s funny how backwards everything is. Being a fan generates very little or zero respect, whereas being as uninterested and “cool” as possible, generates muchos mega respect in the business, with other so called “professionals”. Pretty funny if you ask me.

Definitely a bit of a snob-elite situation which I’ve sometimes have had a hard time with because I don’t feel like I belong to one side OR the other. I am both. What a pain in the ass that can be. Videos and reviews of the Graspop-bands coming up in a few!

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