How to Survive a 16 Hour Bruce Springsteen Show

Christopher McHale
4 min readOct 7, 2022

They never stop.

The roadie’s lament.

Arenas are big places.

You get there first thing in the morning and start to walk. Back and forth. Pushing anvil cases. Hauling cable. Working for rock and roll.

I get this gig working for Bruce Springsteen. I’m talking years ago, college days, and I don’t have a clue who Bruce Springsteen is. He’s another guy with a 48’ truck full of amps and guitars and drums and light and stuff.

I go to the back of the truck with every other grunt and start hauling gear.

Off the truck, down the ramp, up the ramp, along the hallway, up the ramp, into the arena, along the side, to the back.

Go back to the truck and do it again.

There’s a backbeat to it. I enjoy it. We all do.

You work like a demon with 20,000 souls hanging over your head. This entire thing has to be ready when they open the doors and let the crowd in.

I still don’t know who Springsteen is, but he’s got some nice guitars. You can judge a guy that way. Guitars reflect a player’s soul.

We keep hauling and unpacking and unraveling and untangling.

There’s an art to untangling cables. I learned it years ago and the master electrician spots my skill right away. He points to a mass of cables that got knotted into a heap of snakes.

I go to work on it. You kind of toss them around, get them loose, give them a nice cable massage and bingo, they lay down all orderly. Then you lay them down in tidy runs and tape them into place.

Backstage at a rock and roll show is a dark place. You don’t want anybody tripping over cables.

I’ve got some other useful skills I picked up along the way. I know how to run spotlights. There’s extra cash in it, and it’s a good place to watch a show.

Whoever this Springsteen guy is, he sold the place out, so something is happening here. He’s sold a lot of records too. I’ve seen the album covers in record stores, but I haven’t listened to any of them.

It’s not my current groove. I’m still untangling a different nest of cables in my ears —…

--

--

Christopher McHale

Writer | Composer | Producer | Human | Christopher writes about creativity, culture, technology, music, writing. www.christophermchale.com