The Red Bulletin Magazine just published an article on the holy grail of all things music festival related – how to get backstage. While the eleven points they gave us were spot on, I took it upon myself to add some helpful tips of my own.
1. LOOK LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING
This age old adage never fails to be applicable in any scenario. Red Bulletin recommends that you bring any sort of laminate or as many as possible. While laminate never hurts if you want to look like a real music industry pro just walk around by scowling angrily at your cell-phone, make sure it’s the iPhone 6 of course as nothing else will do, while wearing ALL BLACK – no matter how hot it is outside. A tip to the inebriated: show no emotions and try your hardest to do nothing but walk forwards in a straight line with your eyes glued to your phone. Any deviance from this path will most likely result in your immediate removal from the premises.
“Giggling, fist-pumping, high-fives, inability to handle one’s intoxicants, selfies, and general unprofessional behavior will blow it for you.”
2. FIND YOUR ACCESS POINT
This is a big one. All the VIPs, be it festival organizers, DJs, press, or the people who spent way the extra 150 bucks just to skip the lines, have their own place to enter the sacred festival premises away from the noise and long lines of the crowds. Find that secondary entrance and get on in there. I quote, “if you get stopped by a guard, state some bogus name, “I’m Jack Frost with Poorly Kept Records, Bob Bobbington said I should be on the parking list.” Better yet, find out who runs the venue, GM or Director of Operations. Act extremely perturbed when the guard doesn’t find you (“I’ma KILL Bobbington!”), push back to a degree, and if that doesn’t work, enter with the punters.” Scratch that last part. Don’t give up, the second they realize you’re not who you say you are it’s all over my friend. Alternatively, try coming early before security tightens up to scope the joint, odds are you’ll find a place where security will be lax and you might just swing it.
3. PAIR UP
This one’s the tried and true “buddy system” which basically gives you an out to say, “it was his fault I swear!!” when you both get caught. Jokes aside, having a friend whom you can readily engage in deep conversation at a moment’s notice with about the wonderful intricacies of the music industry as you navigate past security with your chests puffed and cell phones chirping in your hands just might swing the odds in your favor. Remember not to get caught asking people for autographs and photos for too long (this one’s mostly applicable to backstage), anybody who seems like they’re bothering too many DJs will most likely get asked to leave.
4. IGNORE SECURITY
Ahh yes. In the event that nothing else works just stroll by security and pray that they somehow miss you. Red Bulletin reminds us that a majority of the security staff are low-paid hourly employees who probably don’t care all that much about the odd sneak-in. Just make sure not to willingly engage security or anybody with a radio for that matter and you should be fine.
5. STAY THE F**K OUT OF THE WAY
While everybody else might be having the time of their lives across the pond remember that the backstage is a work environment. Try not to touch anything, say anything to anybody who looks like they might be busy, or even breathe too loud near somebody who looks important. Also – god forbid that you bump into anybody doing artist liaison or worse yet, the tour manager busy yelling at them.
6. KEEP MOVING (UNTIL YOU HIT THE MAGIC SPOT)
It’s the same rule that they have outside restaurants, “loiterers will be asked to leave.” People who are glued to one spot in the middle of a busy outdoor environment with hundreds of people running around doing things tend to get noticed pretty easily. Don’t be an “Arena Wallhugger” – know where you want to be! Alternatively, don’t look like you’re trying too hard to find somewhere to be or you’ll just end up looking like a deer caught in headlights which is just as bad.
7. FAKE IT
Bring some props, this might make it easy for you. Walkie talkies, police scanners, pizza boxes (or any kind of food items), and huge boxes of water bottles are commonplace backstage. Vendors and caterers are constantly going in and out backstage, so you can try slipping in and pretending to be one of them. Uniforms are fine too, but there’s one golden rule with that – DON’T TRY AND DRESS LIKE SECURITY. It never works. Seriously don’t do it. If you’re going for that press/media look carry a backpack around (even if it’s empty nobody’s really going to know) and maybe a DSLR camera if you own one. People with the proper cameras have unrivaled access when it comes to the media.
8. NEVER, EVER GHERM
Truth be told, this is actually the first time I’ve heard the word “gherm”, but apparently it’s common industry vernacular so I’ll just pretend I’ve been using it for ages. “Gherms” are those who manage to get backstage and then subsequently lose all credibility they might have had in getting there in the first place by selling themselves way too hard. If nobody on SoundCloud or Twitter is going to check out your “fire mixtapes”, don’t think that professional DJs and music executives will think any better of it. Explaining who you are and what you do, if that’s relevant and somehow comes up, is fine. Borrowing people’s cellphones to show them your SoundCloud and try and get that one extra follower is not.
9. NEVER BE A FAN
This one’s similar to eight, fans belong in the front of house enjoying the music alongside the other fans. Backstage is not the place to engage tired looking DJs who have just been spinning for two hours outdoors for an autograph or a picture. Artists expect their privacy backstage, which is why there’s security in the first place, and people who infringe on that privacy are more than likely going to be thrown out. In the off-chance one of your favorite DJs comes up to talk to you for whatever reason, try your hardest not to fangirl and act like you talk to world famous DJs every day over breakfast.
10. HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
I call this one the safety net. Remember that you’re more than likely to get caught so if you really want to enjoy the festival, buy a ticket beforehand. If you get kicked out, but still have your ticket on your persons just call it a day and enjoy the festival with everybody else out there. Try not to run into the security guard who kicked you out in the first place again, and if you do – pray he’s suffering from some sort of vision problem.
The whole point of getting backstage is to experience the festival through the eyes of the proverbial 1%. Once you’re in the clear feel free to enjoy yourself! Drink, eat, and be merry. Just not too merry that you wind up getting kicked out, or worse yet, banished back to GA. Odds are you’ll meet some really cool people so be friendly, be an opportunist (invite-only after-party plans are almost always birthed backstage), and this festival might just wind up being the best one you’ve ever attended.
H/T: Red Bulletin