Like, I’ve done some pretty cool shit over the years, but aside from that time I got free guac from Zambrero not a whole lot comes close to building a 20-foot-tall 50 tonne fire breathing metal spider. I am the roadie who looks a thousand miles with his eyes (Black, J. 2012). Through a series of fortunate events I managed to land my first gig on Arcadia, the aforementioned travelling spider which tours the world. In sea containers, mind. It doesn’t actually walk around the planet.
Accompanying the spider (Yes, it’s a spider. I know it only has 3 legs. What are you, a biologist?) is a small crew mostly hailing from Bristol, who make sure it’s well fed on a diet of petrol and fence jumpers. They are ... an eccentric bunch.
Ever enthusiastic as the perennial new kid, I tried my best to make a good impression on my first day working events. Brandishing my usual sunny disposition, I skipped cheerfully through the gates of Elizabeth Quay, which evidently organizers thought was the perfect location to host a giant steampunk arachnid. *shrug*. Having received little to no instructions prior, I bounded over to the first group of people I saw – a tall, bald man heavily covered in tattoos, another man wearing a helmet and layers of complicated rigging gear, and a shorter bearded pierced gentleman who gave me a look that suggested I had shat in his cereal. I had not, as far as I could remember.
“Hello gents!” I exclaimed merrily. “Do you know where I’m supposed to be working today?”
The trio glared at me. The man with the harness spat on the floor. The tall one was focused intently on my face, his eyes boring into my soul. None of them responded.
“Fair enough! Good talk lads!” I backed away, the tall one still glaring with disappointment. I was largely unconcerned. Everyone looks at me like that.
Scanning the area for the person least likely to shiv me, I spotted a friendly looking man who I thought resembled a middle school English teacher. I headed over to him and he visibly sighed as he noticed me. It was then I saw that he had an obscene tattoo of a woman on his neck. Probably not an English teacher, actually.
“Cheerio, old chap!” I said, in a thoroughly butchered British accent. He did not find this endearing, and stared at me a moment before tiredly rubbing his eyes.
“Ah. Yer local crew. Fantastic.” With a scowl, he started looking around. “I’ll find… summin’ for yeh ta do…” His eyes lit up as he noticed a small pile of white plastic. “'Ow bout yeh go over there and start buildin’ chairs. An’ try not ta fuck it up.”
So it goes, the glamorous events work began with me constructing IKEA chairs in the sun. 50, to be precise. Well, ya gotta start at the bottom. At around the halfway point I decided to get a drink, because my spine was resembling a bell curve and also building chairs sucks. Walking under the shade of the giant looming spider, I noticed a slender woman in her 40s wearing a harness and hanging one-armed from one of the surrounding lighting towers, some 30 feet in the air. Her other arm was preoccupied powerdrilling a spotlight housing. It was, no lie, one of the most badass things I have ever seen. She saw me and flashed me a grin. My heart may have skipped a beat.
As I returned to my little chair building retreat she came up and introduced herself as Lexi. “Don’t mind anyone who gives you a hard time,” she told me, “they’ve not had the best experience with local crew recently. Our last show was in Korea, and we needed a translator for every little instruction. It would’ve been faster to spend the hire money on Adderall and do the extra work ourselves.” She nodded wistfully.
That made sense, I thought. “Lexi,” I asked her, earnestly. “How are you so badass?”
She laughed and told me her story. She was raised very conservatively at an all-girls religious school, which she despised. One day she’d decided enough was enough, and so she shaved her head and joined the then-blossoming British punk scene. This is once upon a time when punk was all about hating the man and rebelling against the system instead of being dumped at high school ball. After hanging around gigs so often, eventually the bands started asking her to help set up and pack down. She became a roadie and never looked back. Her enthusiasm and free spiritedness was contagious and I contemplated how long it would take me to pack up my life and join this ridiculous motley crew.
It would never work. I realized. How can I shitpost from an airplane?