We did three years hard time at the Gorge. Every weekend in the summer, we logged the three-hour trek from Seattle, with vans loaded to the hilt with food to feed anywhere from 60 to 500 people, three meals a day, depending on the show.
Festival shows like the Lilith Fair, or Lollapalooza were crazy. We had up to 12 dressing rooms to supply, all with very specific, contracted items. If someone wanted St. Paulie Girl beer in their dressing room, there was no substituting Molsen. Not if you wanted a job the next week.
Many of the dressing room items had nothing to do with catering, but were things the artists needed, like socks, condoms, (or a brand new toilet seat because Ms. Jackson won't sit where others have).
The Gorge was particularly challenging because it is literally in the middle of nowhere. It sits on the edge of the Columbia River Gorge, in a desert landscape ringed with farmland. The nearest Costco is 2 hours away. Four hours round-trip for a forgotten item doesn't really work in catering time, where everything must be up and ready at a specific moment.
You made sure it was in the van before you left town. All of it.
It was also hot. Sagebrush hot. Rattlesnake and jackrabbit hot.
And hilly. And we had to roll case after case of beer up those hills, in the heat. I don't miss working there, it was a job for young bodies, but it sure was nice to visit last weekend, especially because we got to go like we're used to at the Gorge.
I have no idea what the Gorge is like as a "regular concert goer". Saturday, I must admit, was no different. We had backstage passes. 15 years later we drove up, in a catering van (only not as a working caterer, ours had a blow up mattress in the back), entered the gate like we used to, and went backstage. The funny thing is, I don't actually think we were supposed to park back there. But they waved us through and, since we knew how things work there, we quietly found a spot and didn't do anything un-kosher, like ask for an autograph or take pictures without permission.
We had great seats. 2nd row, center section, lookin' up the nose hairs seats. Because of that, my little digital camera pictures aren't that bad for concert shots.
Erykah Badu was amazing (how have I missed her?), Sheryl Crow and her amazing band of 14 years rocked the house, Sugarland was full of fun and energy, and Sarah McLachlan serenaded us with her beautiful voice and spirit. Here are some of the pictures.
Oh yeah! Since this is a barbecue blog, I should tell you. The backstage caterers boiled their ribs. We watched them dump 'em from the pot. Someone eating them a bit later asked me "If they are good, though, why is that wrong?" My answer was it's not wrong if you like them, it's just not barbecue. If they taste good, then by all means, have another.
I invite you to comment.
Not only can she look glamorous in an old pair of yellow sweats, a t-shirt, farmer's apron, ten-gallon hat, and gold earrings, Erykah can sing her heart out!
Sheryl Crow played mostly crowd-pleasers plus a few songs from her upcoming album. My favorite was the rowdy Led Zeppelin show ender, complete with smashed drums, keyboards, plenty of reverb.
Bassist Tim Smith
While Sugarland is not my cup of tea musically, no one can argue that they put on a high-energy and fun show. Except maybe Eric, but he's a cranky person by nature. He doesn't trust exuberance.
This is the view from the catering tent.
And one last shot of the sun going down....