Thursday, September 23, 2010

GUNS N' ROSES Archive Story

Slash is bringing his solo band to the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina tonight, Thursday, September 23, and I had to use this as an excuse to tell a story about a Guns N' Roses show in Iowa City, Iowa back in 1993 on the Use Your Illusion tour. Here's a scan of the flyer for the show and my backstage pass.
I was helping out with the production company, and was initially supposed to be an usher for the concert. When I got to the arena in the early afternoon, the caterer needed an extra hand so I quickly volunteered. This had to be more interesting than standing around on some stairs all night. This turned into one of the most bizarre concert experiences I've had. Basically, I did all the crap work for the caterer that was brought in from Chicago - I washed dishes, set up meals for the band and crew, and dashed around doing odd errands.
Things quickly turned funny when I had to help set up the band's dressing rooms. Carver Hawkeye Arena served as a hub for athletics at the University of Iowa, and I first saw the band's crew ripping down every athletics picture, plaque, and lettering off the walls. It was later reported that at least $10,000 in damage was done to the backstage area. Cases of beer were stacked floor to ceiling along the entire wall in the dressing rooms but apparently this wasn't enough. Since I was the only local person there, several hundred dollars were stuffed into my hands and I was given a list of hard liquor to buy. The caterer whispered to me to also buy some porno mags, so of course I got the most nasty, sick ones I could find and set them prominently out on the band's tables! After we finished setting up the dressing rooms, the highlight of the night was spotting Queen guitarist Brian May as he entered the building and getting to briefly chat with him, axe in hand.
I never did see any member of G N' R in the backstage areas, but at least I was given a cool crew tour T-shirt. The only break I had was being allowed to watch about 30 minutes of the show from the soundboard area, but I was too exhausted to care at that point. More dishes had to be washed! I vaguely remember finally leaving the venue around 2 or 3 in the morning, completely drained and physically sore. I think the caterer did give me a wad of extra cash at the end of the night, but it's the memories from this that live on!

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