When management showed up it was either very good or very bad news. This time is was very good news. In 2 weeks the band would be playing 8 songs live on a major music TV network. This wouldn’t be an in studio performance either, it would be in front of 25,000 fans at an outdoor stadium. This was the boost we were looking for on a tour that was not doing the business we were hoping it would.
There were 10 days to go before the band got there and I needed to keep them focused on the present. The show on the night prior to the broadcast was being rescheduled so that we could get in early and have a full TV sound check. About a week before the show there was another management meeting to go over details. They only had one rule for the broadcast – no swearing. We also learned that the show would be re-run 8 times that week and a total of 16 times that month.
We got into town early the morning prior to the TV broadcast and everyone involved was excited for a weekend of hotel life. We would be in town for 3 nights, a mini vacation in the middle of this long winter tour. The sound check was 22 hours away so everyone had a full day to unwind. Well, not everyone. After checking everyone in I jumped back in the bus and, along with the crew, headed to the venue for load in.
The local TV crew were already setting up when I got there and were very welcoming. I had a brief talk with their rep and he told us how excited they were that we were there to co-headline the event. He ran through the basics for me and mentioned the no swearing policy almost as an afterthought. 4 hours later I was back in my hotel room and excited for the coming day.
The band started every show the same way, they played a short intro while the singer hyped the crowd from backstage. The first song would kick in and the singer would run out and the crowd would explode. Having witnessed this about a hundred times I knew the adrenaline rush he felt when he hit the stage was a real moment of concern when it came to him slipping and swearing. I tried to focus him minutes before showtime, told him to prepare those first words. He told me he was ready. Get your hands up – that is what he was going with.
The band hit the stage and kicked into the intro. I stood by the singer as his did his hype rap from behind the amps. The first notes of the opening song rang out and off he went to deliver those first words. GET THE FUCK UP, GET THE FUCK UP! I saw the reaction at the mixing console and knew they were now on high alert. 10 seconds in and all the goodwill was gone. Two verses in and he slipped another one in, this time it seemed to go unnoticed. He made it through the second song without swearing but I knew what was coming during the third song and was hoping he managed to resist.
I remember reading the memo from management a few days later. The official count was 26. It was a bloodbath of fucks. Not only did he say FUCK 26 times in one song, he also had the 25,000 give the viewing audience the middle finger for a solid minute. No camera angle was safe from it, there was nowhere to hide and the look on his face during the closeup showed he was loving every second of it. I had not seen the rebroadcast footage until I recently watched it on YouTube. I still feel for the TV crew who had to try and make something out of that mess.
Nobody from the TV side approached us after the show. They were pissed but they were pros. They thanked us for a great performance and could not have treated us any better, I wish I could say the same for the way we handled the show.