Musicians’ Strangest Requests- An Ode to the Concert Rider

Snoop Dogg’s rider from Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest.

It’s hard to imagine the life of a touring musician. With multiple stops in different cities, sometime countries, each week and a tour bus as your home, life is sure to be a bit hectic. But after experiencing a few tours worth of life on the road, many musicians have found a way to make up for some of the creature comforts they miss out on by being away. Some in bigger ways then other…MUCH bigger.

Enter stage left: The artist rider. The rider is a list of requests (demands?) a performer submits to each venue of day-of-show requirements, ranging from specific foods to personnel needs to safety requirements.

Inspired by the picture we received of Snoop Dogg’s requests for Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest, we decided to explore this subject a bit further. Just for funsies, we’re going to highlight some of the most outrageous rider requests known to man. Special thanks to The Smoking Gun, our source for the majority of this outlandish information. Here goes nothin’.

1: Van Halen

Bron M&M’s are a no-no for Van Halen. Image courtesy of Flickr user Stijn Vogels.

The cream of the crop and where crazy requests may very well have gotten their start. Van Halen’s rider, in

addition to very specific technical requirements, requested that a bowl of M&M’s be placed in the band’s dressing room with all of the brown M&M’s removed.

As it turns out, this diva-esque request was actually made with the best of intentions. David Lee Roth revealed that this was actually a test for the band to judge how closely the venue had followed the specifications of the rider. If a brown M&M was found in the jar, it could be deducted that the venue had not been as thorough as necessary, which in candy terms since silly, but when applied to electronic equipment and heavy stage sets, it actually makes perfect sense. By not following Van Halen’s rider to a T, the venue could possibly put the lives of band members, fans, or the road crew at risk.

Little did Roth know that he opened up the door for a new generation of over-the-top rider requests, most of which seem to be a bit more trivial…

2: Mariah Carey

This brings me to our next jewel. This may not be a shocker, but it’s safe to say that Mariah Carey may be a bit high maintenance. Her requests for one particular gig included a $200 bottle of wine, lamps to avoid harsh dressing room lighting, aromatherapy candles, and two dozen white roses. But, perhaps my favorite of them all, was Carey’s request of a “staircase assistant” whose main task consisted of testing stairs to make sure they are safe for the singer to walk down (more details here).

3: The Foo Fighters

While the Foo Fighters have a very length, very detailed rider, they managed to take the diva status down many notches by spicing their requests up with creativity. Creativity of what kind, you ask? To start things off, they included a coloring book and activity pages. But the most entertaining aspect is the wording of the request themselves. Below are a few of my favorite excerpts:
•    “Every lunch should feature a vegetarian soup. Dinner should have a different vegetarian soup. Please use as little cream as possible in the soups. Roadies get bloated and become colicky when they’ve inhaled too much Cream of Cauliflower.”
•   “PASTA/ITALIAN FOOD DISHES: As the boys in the hood say, “Bring your ‘A’ game.” Italian food has to be decent. Olive Garden should not outshine your food. Pasta is not noodles in dishwater. Let’s be wowed. A pasta bar with a clean, sober chef making the entree makes the roadies feel less like 5th grade lunch kids and more like actual civilians on a cruise ship (you can skip the ice sculptures, Rodin).”
•    The hospitality room request list included such gems as: “6 Rich guy coconut waters with extra priviledge (in cardboard cartons)” “18 Cans of Red Bull Energy Drink” “0 Cans of Tiger Blood” “108 Large Bath Towels- if they are new and unwashed, you will receive a wedgie.”

4: Katy Perry

Apparently decor ranks high on Katy Perry’s list of priorities. Additionally, she has high expectations when it comes to flowers. Future Perry suitors, take note. Below is an abbreviated list of her dressing room must-haves:
•    “Two (2) comfortable arm chairs- egg chairs, one with footstool, in cream
•    One (1) coffee table- Perspex modern style
•    Two (2) floor lamps- French ornate style
•    One (1) refrigerator with glass door
•    Arrangement of fresh flowers- consisting pink. White and purple hydrangeas, pink & white roses and peonies. OR if the above is not available selection of seasonal white flowers to include orchids- ABSOLUTELY NO CARNATIONS.”

5: Adele

We have to give kudos to Adele for including such a selfless requirement in the rider from her 21 tour:

“All guests at all Adele shows will be asked for a minimum donation to charity of $20.00 per person, in cash when they collect their tickets. There will be no exception to this rule.

North American beer doesn’t fly with Adele. Photo courtesy of Flickr user marinmatamoros.

We will also expect that all guests of the Promoter and/or Venue to also make the same donation when collecting their tickets….
At Adele’s personal request, all money collected will be donated to “SANDS”
This is a charity dedicated to “supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives”

The singer does, however, squeeze in a few requests to benefit herself including:

  • “1x Pack Marlboro Lights plus 1x disposable cigarette lighter”
  • “1x Small plate of assorted freshly made, individually wrapped sandwiches, to include chicken salad. Sandwiches must NOT contain tomatoes, vinegar, chilli or citrus fruit”
  • “1x selection of various “bite-size” chocolate bars (ie Twix, Aero, Milky Way, Mars, etc.)”
  • “1 x Bottle very best quality red wine (Italian, French, Spanish or Australian)”
  • “12x selection of bottles of best quality European lager beer. ie Becks, Stella Artois, Peroni etc. North American beer is NOT acceptable.

The Week in TicketCity Search – Feburary 17th

TicketCity Week in Search

Week of
Feb. 13th
1 - New York Knicks
2 2 Madonna
3 3 Drake
4 - Maná
5 5 San Antonio Rodeo
6 7 Justin Bieber
7 6 Van Halen
8 - Adele
9 - Kevin Hart
10 - Houston Rodeo

Well, ordinarily I’d be wondering why the Knicks came out of nowhere to capture the top spot on the countdown this week, but it was fairly hard to escape the hailstorm of media coverage garnered by one Jeremy Lin. Were it not for Mr. Lin, the countdown would have been concert exclusive.

Madonna and Drake remain stationary in the second and third spots, while Maná returns to the countdown with a new tour. They were quite popular on the countdown during their last tour, but don’t worry, I think I used up all my role-playing terminology puns then.

Down in the bottom five, recent Grammy sweeper Adele appears. Currently no dates are available, but she has stated she’ll be working on a new album soon and so another tour will likely not be far behind. Kevin Hart takes over comedy duties from Daniel Tosh this week, and the Houston Rodeo rounds out the bottom five as the San Antonio Rodeo did for the top five.

One For The Roadie: Did Adele’s Concert Dates Go Up In Smoke?

Working at a place where our fingers are always on the pulse of what’s going on in the entertainment world gives you a certain worldview on things. So when Adele cancelled two sets of dates on her latest tour this year, we understandably went bananas (and not because we had tickets to her Austin show at Stubbs). Was this the beginning of the end for one of the best music stories to come out in the past five years? Laryngitis comes and goes, but hers seemed to be persistent, essentially shelving her North American dates.

As someone who recently lost their voice screaming for hours at the Raiders/Texans game, I am totally sympathetic to Adele. It’s been three days and my voice still hasn’t come back. However, I lose that sympathy when I remember reading articles about her and she’s always smoking, or talking about smoking or posing for pictures smoking. “A-ha,” I’d think to myself in my mom’s voice, “it’s the smoking that’s doing her in!” Well, according to her, it’s not the smoking. It’s the talking. And even though she’s quit smoking in the hardest way possible–cold turkey—she will never blame her true love. That being cigarettes, not the dude she wrote 21 about. As she told Brit Tabloid, The Sun

“Smoking is not the reason I got laryngitis – it was because I was talking too much. I damage my voice offstage, not onstage. Onstage I am fine as apparently I am technically great, but when I talk I damage my voice big time. I have got screwed into giving up smoking.

If I wasn’t a singer I still would be smoking 25 a day. Smoking is my favourite thing to do in the world, I am gutted I have had to give up. But I have been tough – no patches, no gum, no hypnotism. It [expletive] sucks.”

Of course, if she heals properly now, we won’t know what is actually was. Occam’s razor would tell me it would be her [expletive] cigarettes, but at that point we wouldn’t care. If she’s all of a sudden in Austin belting out “Someone Like You,” then it could’ve been an obsession with eating broken glass that kept her voice under wraps. We would have her back. But there will always be a side of me that thinks that this could’ve all been avoided had she treated her voice like the beautiful instrument it is and taken care of it by not smoking.

However, if it is because she talks too much, I’d be even more devastated. She gives the best song intros during her shows that I’ve ever heard. Check out her awesome segue as she goes into Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Be well, sweet Adele. We’ll see you in Austin soon.

The Week in TicketCity Search – October 7th

TicketCity Week in Search

Week of
Oct. 3rd
1 3 Texas Longhorns Football
2 - Georgia Tech Football
3 2 Taylor Swift
4 6 Adele
5 1 Dallas Cowboys
6 8 Justin Bieber
7 - LSU Football
8 5 Mississippi State Football
9 - Texas Tech Football
10 - Texas Rangers

My prediction about Taylor Swift’s chart success hit a snag. A “small” one: Texas-OU Weekend. The Red River (totally not a) Shootout goes down at the Cotton Bowl tomorrow. TicketCity will have a team up in Dallas for any exceedingly cautious fans who made the decision to go at the very last of minutes.

Dedicated football and Taylor Swift fans can have quite the day in the greater Dallas metro area, as her big concert at Dallas Cowboys Stadium is also Saturday evening.

Rounding out the top 5 are the Cowboys, who drop from the top spot last week.

The bottom five finds a few more college football teams, some of them making their first appearance on the countdown this season.

Way down at the bottom we find the Texas Rangers, who just clenched an appearance in the ALCS. The Rangers made it all the way to the World Series last year, but lost to the SF Giants. I’m sure they plan to change that this year.

The Week in TicketCity Search – September 30th

TicketCity Week in Search

Week of
Sept 26th
1 6 Dallas Cowboys
2 - Taylor Swift
3 5 Texas Longhorns Football
4 - Virginia Tech Football
5 4 Mississippi State Football
6 9 Adele
7 10 Alabama Football
8 8 Justin Bieber
9 - Oklahoma State Football
10 - Clemson Football

I see by the clock on the wall it is still football season, and the countdown reflects that quite clearly. Back to the top this week are The Boys, who meet the (and this sounds odd) undefeated Detroit Lions this Sunday in a home game up in Arlington. That game is going to be a lot more interesting than it was a few months ago.

After slipping off the countdown last week, Taylor Swift roars back to the #2 spot, an impressive achievement in a football heavy environment. She has something in common with the Dallas Cowboys, too. While they are away, she’ll be borrowing their stadium for a huge show on October 8th.

Lots more college football on the list this week. The also undefeated Longhorns hit the #3 spot, followed by Virginia Tech, who returns strong after a brief absence. Mississippi State rounds out the top five, having lost a spot since last week.

Adele stages a bit of comeback to kick off the bottom five, where we find some more of the usual suspects, as well as a couple more teams that haven’t been on the countdown quite so regularly: Oklahoma State and Clemson. Miss Swift will probably make a strong bid for #1 in the new couple weeks, we’ll see if she makes it.