Road requests

From cashew juice to flowers, venues have seen an array of requirements from touring performers

Urban myths surrounding musician rider lists suggest that they are all like Van Halen and have something against coloured M&Ms. Grad Club Manager Virginia Clark says the only reason the band requested solely brown M&Ms was to make sure their list was being read carefully.
Urban myths surrounding musician rider lists suggest that they are all like Van Halen and have something against coloured M&Ms. Grad Club Manager Virginia Clark says the only reason the band requested solely brown M&Ms was to make sure their list was being read carefully.
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When Hedley decided to play a prank, a line item of five rabbit costumes was added to their rider list.

At their Kingston gig in February, their opening act My Name is Kay got quite the surprise.

Given to organizers of a venue, a rider list comprises of items musicians request in their backstage area before their performance to make them comfortable.

Anne Lindsay, the Operations and Event Services manager at the K-Rock Centre, said these items can vary from flowers to animal costumes to expensive wine.

The venue is given the rider list in advance, but can sometimes scramble to pull together unconventional requests. “We had one artist play here that had a particular taste in flowers so we were given a separate flower rider and a budget of $1,500 to spend on flowers for that one day,” Lindsay said.

But occasionally costly florals don’t suffice.

Lindsay recalled one particular artist who requested the flower stems to be cut to a particular length.

Some other big name musicians have asked for a change to the regular décor of the backstage area at the K-Rock Centre.

“People have requested a certain colour of furniture so if we’ve got to provide furniture into the dressing room, some artist will demand it be a white leather couch.”

Black socks, condoms and fresh bars of soap still in the package are the most common items that Lindsay has had to find for her musicians.

However, the most popular celebrities are often more altruistic in their riders.

Canadian legend Neil Young, who played at the venue last weekend, asked Lindsay and the rest of the K-Rock staff to remove all plastic bottles in the backstage areas.

Water coolers were used to fill up reusable mugs and cups, Lindsay said.

“A lot of the celebrities we get playing here actually are very environmentally conscious,” she said.

Further up from the K-Rock Centre, Virginia Clark has fewer flower stems to cut at the Grad Club.

“The riders I get are never usually outrageous. There’s the urban myths about only brown M&Ms in a bowl like for the band Van Halen,” she said. “But the only reason they did that was to see if the person actually read the rider,” she said.

A common request Clark said she noticed on rider lists is a platter of hummus, pita, veggies and dip.

The biggest thing musicians crave while on the road is the accommodations of home, Clark said.

“Because they’re on the road, it’s not easy. They’re in transit all the time and don’t have the convenience of going home after work.” Achieving the comfort of home is occasionally taken one step further.

“The cutest one I’ve had is bands ask me to bring in any dogs if we had them at home. When Neko Case came, I had the Kingston Humane Society there and they had dogs for the band to see and they really loved that a lot, we even had one puppy get adopted.”

While most of her interactions with musicians playing at the Grad Club goes off without a hitch, Clark said there have been some rider list items she hasn’t been able to get a hold of.

“The hardest thing I’ve had is finding cashew juice in Kingston. I can’t say who it was, they were a pretty big act and they were from America,” she said. “It was the Holy Grail for requests.”

Noted musician rider lists

Queen: a mud-wrestling ring outside the dressing room to provide post-show entertainment.

Hollerado: a dog for the band to walk after sound check.

Celine Dion: dressing room to be kept at 73° F.

Deadmau5: inflatable pool toy for performance.

Michael Bublé: one local team hockey puck from every city.

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