Doing what I do for a living, has it’s privileges. (I know I sound like a commercial for American Express, but its true!!) This weekend was no exception. Being able to treat my friends too, makes it even sweeter.
Day 1, My hook up this weekend has been the tour manager for Volbeat for about 3 years now. The first time Jeff G invited me to see them in 2011, I’d never even heard of them, now they are huge and headlining tours all over the world. It has been very exciting to see them evolve as artists.
This time around they were opening for Avenged Sevenfold, who was the headlining Tampa’s 98 Rockfest. I saw A7X earlier this year in Orlando from the Founder’s Suite at Amway Center, but this was even better with All Access!
Saigon Kick was on the lineup of this show, so I decided to see if my STRUT 80’s Coverband singer friend Lindsey Brown was available, since its one of her favorite 80’s bands and we missed seeing them at a few dates over the last year.
I also owe her one for inviting me to see Cheap Thrill this past November, where I met the former members of Cinderella
and fixed some Stagewear for Cheeney Brannon the former Drummer for Collective Soul.
Lindsey worked half a day, then we rolled out to the show, early afternoon. I asked Jeff if he needed anything sewn and he did have a few things for me to work on.
We arrived around 4, grabbed our tickets, wristbands and headed for the back door security entrance. Lindsey was carrying a heavy leather bag with my sewing machine in it and I had other bags full of scissors, blades and other contraband I was not about to try and walk thru the main entrance!!
As we past the outdoor stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, Lacuna Coil was playing and about to be followed by Trivium. Nothing More, Werm, We As Humans and Fozzy also played that stage. Lindsey knew some people from Fozzy, who we ran into in catering.
98 Rockfest Lineup Tampa, FL
Finally we get inside and find Jeff in the production office he shared with Chevelle. We grabbed some dinner (prime rib!) while we were waiting for the building to deliver a table I could use to set up my sewing machine.
The indoor arena stage fired up at 5:15. I caught the hit song Heaven Knows by Pretty Reckless, then headed backstage to go about my work.
Volbeat, if you’ve never seen them preform, have a very cool themed stage featuring Sin City style comic book graphics in a greenish gold tone on their backdrop, a graphic screen printed scene all across their backline guitar cabinets and a screen printed drum riser wrap. A few days earlier they ripped an “L” shaped hole smack in the front of the drum riser scene. It had some black gaf tape on the back side of it to keep it from getting worse. I stitched it back together from behind and retaped it to prevent it from coming open again. Here it is after I fixed it:
Then, I became a shoe repair guy and fixed Rob C’s boot. He’s the guitar player for Volbeat formerly of Anthrax. Lindsey took this awesome pic from inside the barricade.
While I was doing this Lindsey went out front to see Saigon Kick. By the time they were done performing, so was I.
Jeff gave us a mission for Volbeat, to go get some combs. Michael Poulson, the singer, has a rockabilly look about him. He likes to whip out a comb on stage, fix his hair, then throw it to the crowd.
We drove over to Walgreens, near the venue, grabbed the last two combs they had, some beer and headed back to the venue.
Black Stone Cherry
and Volbeat. Got some great pics.
As Avenged prepared to take the stage the whole backstage area went on lockdown. A7X access only.
We scooted out to the floor and watched the show from Front Of House (where they run the show from.) A7X has a pretty epic castle style stage by Gallagher, digital video screen scenes of medieval battle, a massive skeleton “King” prop (that I kept wishing would stand up and walk around!) and blasts of pyro flames you could feel the heat from FOH.
After the show we hung out with Jeff for a while and swapped some backstage gossip.
Lindsey dropped me off at my place and that was the last decent nights sleep I would get for days!!!
Day 2 woke up, dressed and headed from Orlando to Jacksonville. About half way there I got a phone call from Jeff. He needed me to take care of an urgent matter in Tampa, so I turned around and headed there.
I planned on getting my high school BFF Darlene on the way, but i was running so late, she opted out. This is a pic of Darlene and I at a Hellyeah show Jeff was touring with.
“The Cult” was headlining after Volbeat, so I decided to call my friend Chris to see if he wanted her backstage pass. (Of course he did!) He’s in a Cult tribute band with my other friend Robbie Sinn (former bassist for Flock of Seaguls), they were also on their way to the show.
Six hours later, I arrived in Jacksonville, mission accomplished.
I parked next to their tour bus and arrived in time to see Alter Bridge, Hellyeah and Volbeat.
I grabbed Chris out of the riff raff and handed him an All Access Pass. If you want to hear about everything Cult related read my other blog and wardrobe interview with Billy Duffy!
Here was the line up for the day and all the artists that were hanging around backstage:
Jeff had to head out with his crew for their next show in Chattanooga, TN.
As the night wore on, we partied in the Artist’s Lounge sponsored by 33star. Drinks were free, they had swag, sofas, a game room and it was where all the artists gathered to drink and party for the rest of the night.
It was then I realized the Artist Pass’s Jeff had given me were good for the following day. By 2 am, I was not about to drive back to Orlando. Chris had come up with Robbie and Vanessa from Orlando, so we all decided to go get some breakfast and try to find a hotel room. Because of the 2 day festival it took about 20 phone calls to find a room 15 miles away! Everything else was sold out. By the time we got settled it was 4 am. Between all the snoring, I don’t think I got more than 15 minutes sleep. Agh. Robbie and Vanessa headed back to Orlando while Chris and I headed back to the festival.
Here was the line up for Rockville Day 2:
On our side was Pretty Reckless, Black Stone Cherry, Theory of a Deadman, Staind and Rob Zombie. I took some pretty cool pics:
On the other main stage was Black Label Society, Seether, Five Finger Death Punch And Korn.
We met so many of the rock stars this day I lost track. I don’t recognize half of them, so most of the time I didn’t even realize who I was just taking to until later.
As much as I wanted to drink, as I explained to Chris, if one of these bands calls me to sew something I can’t show up drunk! So I opted on the safe side. For me this was fun but its also business. I can’t afford to have a bad reputation by getting drunk or being anything but professional.
Chris and I met some girls who were a bit drunk. One was getting molested by some guy to the point that we had to interfere and had the jerk thrown out. She thanked us for having her back and we later have them a ride to their friends house down the road.
We made a bunch of friends from Central Florida including these hotties.
I met a pair of girls who had the coolest jobs. They were bar tenders currently working in the Virgin Islands and planning a working bar tending tour trip to Europe next, how cool is that!!
The highlight of my evening was spent talking to Ivan Moody of FFDP. He was grateful to each and every fan who approached him, quite humble and very candid about his personal life and what it’s like in a day of his life as a rock star. He talked about his cat, kids, ex’s (2 of which we met!) and some interesting future plans.
In a bizarre twist of fate, I met my new best friend and future rock star Zakk DuBois drummer/guitar player/singer for hire, who was inspired and forever changed by the intense conversation we had with Ivan. His best advise to Zakk was to be careful what you wish for and be prepared to give up having a normal life if you truly want to be a rock star. Ivan said to spend most of your time listening and then speak loudest thru your songs. If you want to know me “Over and Under” is the best song I ever wrote.
In between intense conversations were also the ridiculous ones. Zakk and I became random facebook friends in Oct of 2013 and had no other friends in common. We met at Rockville and realized we were already friends on facebook. That was a trip!!!
I witnessed an epic groupie move I only thought happened in the movies. A silicon injected brunette solicited one particular rock star and basically offered herself to him in very explicit terms, in front of everyone. I was embarrassed for her and impressed with how politely he declined.
I spent some time taking to the members of Lacuna Coil. Christina was especially friendly. I met Justin Chancellor of Tool, who lives in Florida and was there hanging out with LC. That was exciting because they were about to play a show in South Florida with my stagewear clients Ornimental.
It was an amazing weekend for me and as usual exceeded my expectations ad was more than I think I deserve. I wonder what will be next to top this?
Stay Metal My Friends!!
Gina Vincenza Van Epps
A List Wardrobe Seamstress, Stage Wear, Costume & Couture Design & Fabrication