Artists, man. They’re the key ingredient to our trade but none of us would really mind going without. In World Wrestling Entertainment productions they’re called “Talents”, which is an insult to the word inmyhumbleopinion.
Today’s band in the Kinky star club was late. Two hours late, which is longer than the time it takes from the place they live at. The sound tech was a very okay dude so he didn’t complain much about having to wait, although he had a right to. He didn’t complain either when the guitarist, after setting up his gear, started testing strings and pedals like it was his first time, while the techie was rigging shit dead in front of the amplifier. Now that’s just rude, and I politely told him.
Let’s get one thing straight: If you’re an artist, regardless of who you are, you are not the most important person in the room- Au contraire. The audience is not there to see you. The technician is not there to work for you.
Truth is, you are there for the audience. To entertain them, like a clown entertains children without it getting to his stupid clown head. You are working with the technician, for the audience. It’s your job, and even though some fans might think impossibly high of you, you are no better than the man sweeping the street.
So showing up late, is rude. Making noise, is rude. Working against rather than with the people around you, is counterproductive and makes you a lousy artist, and you’re not even at the start of the concert.
That doesn’t mean artists get too much credit, that too is a misconception. They might get pampered by their promoter, if they’ve got one, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Successful singers or bands often gain a reputation of being stuck-up and arrogant, asking ridiculous things like blue m&m’s only or their hotel room to be painted white weeks prior to their arrival. When I say I’ve met a few big shots like Bono and got to observe them from up close, people often go,
Using my twitchy communication skills, I deduct that they mean to ask if they are “as expected,” as these huge figures tend to be. To answer the question, the impression I got from Bono is that he’s a professional. He doesn’t fuck around, he’s got to be in Africa by 7 so he just points and tells people what he needs done, while managers around him make lists, and he fucks off again. My kinda guy.
Did he seem arrogant? Certainly. People who don’t smile, don’t chat about small stuff and don’t even notice me eavesdropping come over as arrogant. But picture me, if you will, the average day of an artist on tour:
Wake up in a hotel. Notice paparazzi outside the window yelling things at you, so forget about looking outside for too long without causing riots. Spend some time missing home.
Early morning, meeting with manager, who tells you what you’ll be doing today, and that your hard work just got sold to some brand of salami for a commercial.
Then, a radio interview. People hitting your limousine window on the way there. You might picked up the sport of trying to guess which question will be next, because while every single reporter tries to ask clever and insightful questions, they all fail. They ask you how you like Belgium. You say you love it and the people there are so warm.
Next, a photo shoot. People hitting the limousine window on the way there. nobody gives a shit if you enjoy sitting in the make-up chair or how you’re feeling, smile your teeth out and strike “that pose you do” because this is for a sponsor magazine.
Meet-and-greet. People hitting the limousine window on the way there. Walk in, four girls start screaming, crying, hugging you regardless of your human contact issues, flash cameras in your eyes. Want to talk to you about the guy in the music video.
Two hours of prep before the show. People hitting the limousine window on the way there. Hot, loud, chaotic, stagehands trying to sneak a picture. No shower in the building, oh well. Terrible food. Couldn’t find the note that said “Antwerp, Belgium” and went with Amsterdam, instead. Got it right the second time, and tried your carefully practiced French phrase. Critics hated it, and so did everyone else. Later hear that Antwerp is Dutch speaking and is generally intolerant towards anyone who does not.
So if Bono wants a few changes to his stage and doesn’t smile at me, I am not in the least bit offended. This guy needs to force a smile all day, every day, please every single person around him in order to keep the money machine working. In the end, he only gets a percentage of that. He might be getting rich, but there’s whole companies riding on his back and doing the same, at his expense.
J-Lo probably never asked any room to be painted. She just asked a white hotel room, because she’ll be away from home for months and happens to like a white bedroom. Live nation went ahead and took that to absurd extremes because the more comfortable the artist is, the more of this shit they can take before snapping like Whitney Houston did. As for the blue m&m’s… I’ll bet your ass there is some sponsorship deal involved.
So as far as one can tell from such a short encounter- yes, most big artists are arrogant. You would be too, if you are recognized, loved an harassed where ever the fuck you go. You can’t blame them for that.
If they don’t give you their practiced smile, take it as a compliment- it means they distinguish you from their screaming crowd and see no reason to give you the paid treatment. They understand that their job is to entertain, and when they’re not working, they see no need to do so. Would you? Do you?