Life Backstage In 2010: My Experiences As A Runner

Joe Copeland

I am often the runner for True Endeavors shows, which includes buying all the weird things on a band’s rider as well as driving artists and their crew back and forth from hotels and other random spots. On the flip side there is also a lot of standing around while waiting backstage for the tour a to tell you what he needs, and carrying cases upon cases of beer up and down stairs.

I often get asked “What’s the craziest thing that happens backstage?”

To be honest, life on the road is pretty normal for most of the bands.  It isn’t always wild parties and glamor—sometimes it’s the simple moments that stand out.  For example: Upon meeting Henry Rollins, we spent half an hour wandering around Best Buy for him to buy the first season of Mad Men, and another 20 minutes in the car while I showed him how to use his new iPhone.  There was also the time Neko Case and new boyfriend Tad Kubler (from The Hold Steady) sat in my car excitedly talking about just meeting Tad’s mom for the first time.

Here are some more memorable experiences from 2010…

Funny items I bought for artists:

  • Grape Philly blunts for Ghostface Killah (I wonder what he uses those for?)
  • Crunch ‘n Munch for Citizen Cope’s very stoned and giggly tour manager
  • Condoms and socks for Wiz Khalifa (one of which was size XL)

Distinct Backstage happenings:

  • Valient Thorr getting tattooed backstage at the Orpheum
  • Amos Lee’s tour manager trying to get me to recruit a farmer friend to grow weed for him

Absurdly nice bands:

  • Dr Dog: This show was one of the first times I really had to try hard not to make a gushing fool of myself.  In turn, they were incredibly kind, and willing to talk about shared favorite musicians from Philadelphia.
  • The National: Maybe it was because the guys were in high spirits after playing for President Obama, or maybe they just thought I was super cool, but they sure went above and beyond other bands. The lead singer Matt Berninger invited me on the bus to give me a bottle of wine, and they gave me multiple records and t-shirts (not to mention a nice tip)!
  • Atmosphere: Every-time Atmosphere comes to town they blow me away, not only with their live show but with their willingness to take time and just talk to people. This year was my third time seeing them, which proved to be no different.
  • Brandi Carlile and Band: In 2009 I met the incredibly sweet Brandi and her band. This fall they came back to town and upon seeing me again they remembered my name and the 10 minute conversation we had a year ago. Pretty impressive!

All of this is to say that it is encouraging to see that the people we look up to and who entertain us, are simply “real people”, and not just the sum of their songs.

–Joe Copeland

5 Responses

  1. Very nice, Joe. It’s no wonder to me why artists like you so much. You are one awesome dude.

  2. Knowing you Joe, I am certain that The National DID think you were super cool. Obama doesn’t get all the credit! Madison-bound musicians are in good hands!

  3. Woah, Neko Case dated Tad Kubler? That’s crazy.

  4. Do you have any advice on landing a job as a concert runner?

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