A Day In The Life Of A Drum Tech
4:00 p.m. Line Check. Every tech is in position with instruments and every line is checked to insure that each microphone and instrument is tested through the monitor system and front-of-house speakers.
4:30 p.m. Springsteen and the other members of the E Street Band arrive with the admonishment that no pictures are to be taken while the band is in the house.
5:00 p.m. Sound check. Pretty much business as usual. As the band played through the sound check, it became apparent that this was simply a formality. The band clearly knows the material and this exercise merely helps them to get a feel for the venue. One surprise arose in that Don Henley was coming in to rehearse a song he would sing during the show with Springsteen that night. McCarthy preceded the current Springsteen tour by being the drum tech on the Eagles last tour in the summer of 2002. We got a “Don and Harry picture” just to show it happened. Then Henley got the heck out of there and McCarthy went back to work, getting everything ready for that night’s show.
6:00 p.m. After about an hour of playing through pieces and parts of songs, the band heads off to catering and the house opens. McCarthy stays behind to fine tune any problems that cropped up during sound check and to replace a slightly cracked hi-hat top that Weinberg had questioned during the sound check. The crowd is coming into the venue and filling up the place. The video cameras are being adjusted to correct a blacked out square in one of the 20-foot by 30-foot screens that are on each side of the stage. Three cameras will shoot close ups that will be projected on these mammoth screens. This is a large arena and it’s been sold out for weeks, so everyone is intent on getting to their seats and gearing up for the show.
6:30 p.m. After making sure that everything is okay, McCarthy heads to catering. By the time we get into the catering room, the smell of steamed rice and drying chicken breasts is lingering on the air. Even though the catering folks have gone all out with a change of table linen, lamps, centerpieces and low level lighting, it was still a cafeteria line dinner, but as McCarthy so aptly pointed out, it was free and plentiful!
7:15 p.m. After checking in with Weinberg, McCarthy heads back to the stage for a final line check at 7:30 just to be sure.
7:45 p.m. McCarthy heads for the production office. It’s a hectic scene with all the techs for the band waiting to get their copy of tonight’s set list. McCarthy heads back over to Weinberg’s dressing room to discuss any changes that may be needed. It’s off to the stage to put out the drinks on the riser, then into the trenches. McCarthy’s workstation during the show is located directly underneath and slightly behind Weinberg’s riser on stage. A cutout in the stage gives him a clear sight line to Weinberg at all times.
McCarthy puts a copy of the set list up on his work table and confirms the tempo settings so that Weinberg has a reference to help him to count off each song at the right speed. Having been together as long as these guys have, and playing very emotionally moving music, the ebb and flow of the groove is single-minded and focused throughout the marathon of a three-hour show as Weinberg carries the big beat in his ever so capable hands.
8:00 p.m. Showtime! As the band comes on stage and McCarthy goes into show mode, it’s plain to see that all the people on this tour are ready. Kind of like watching a bird dog on point.
8:15 p.m. Lights go down and the roar of the crowd is deafening as the band takes the stage. As hit after hit from Springsteen’s prodigious catalog rolls out through the speakers, the crowd roars appreciatively. There are very few breaks in the action and we don’t dare interrupt. The show is almost three hours long, so the pressure to keep the energy up and the show on track is pretty intense. The production is flawless. There are no apparent glitches with Weinberg or McCarthy. The only breather McCarthy gets during the show is when Springsteen heads for the piano for a song without the band. We go under the stage to watch from that angle for a while. This is the point where Henley is coming in for his guest spot and McCarthy handles the additional duty with no problem. The show concludes without a hitch.
11:00 p.m. Starting at 6:00 a.m. with the arrival of the riggers, the setup for this show took all day long. But once the show is over, a scant 45 minutes has passed before the stage is bare and the crew is hauling cases off to the truck in preparation for load out. McCarthy has the kit torn down and in the flight cases before the audience is all the way out of the building! After supervising the removal of his cases and a few last minute details, McCarthy’s job is done for the night.
12:05 a.m. McCarthy grabs a quick shower in the dressing room and changes into his favorite sweats before heading to the bus, which will take him to the next day’s show in a city eight hours away.