Hey Back of House Readers,
This is Claudia Stoops, and I’m our Associate Editor here at Back of House. I’m currently a college student from Michigan, but over the past two weeks I traveled down to Miami to work as the Event Operations Catering Assistant at Rolling Loud. Jessie, our Co-founder and CEO, was also here working as the Front of House Operations Manager. I’d attended many shows and festivals before the pandemic, but Rolling Loud has been my first experience on the other side. So I wanted to take the opportunity to talk with some of the many talented event professionals I’ve met…
Q: How did you start and how long have you been working in live events?
Julie Daly (BOH Ops Manager): “I’ve been doing this for about ten years now. I went to school in New York for fashion business management, and after one internship, I decided it was not for me. So my last summer before senior year, I had to choose my big internshi, and I knew I wanted to try something else. It turned out, through a family connection, I was able to get an internship with Bonnaroo. So I worked with Superfly for about five or six years. That’s really how I first got into this. The first festival I did was one they had in New York called The Great GoogaMooga Festival. My second was Bonnaroo, which was kind of surreal as a 21-year-old. I was sold and I’ve been here since.”
Q: Why did you start working live events?
Anya Billeck (VIP Ops): “I really like the environment around live shows… it was the only thing that clicked and I wanted to do something that made me happy where I felt like I belonged.”
Q: How has your Rolling Loud experience been?
Jenny Bartlett (Festival Director’s Assistant): “Rolling Loud has been very interesting. It’s the first big show back. There’s lots of challenges when you’re planning a festival in just a couple of short months, when you normally have six to eight months. Doing it in two is interesting… It’s nice when you have an amazing team who’s willing to put in the work and the time to actually get it done. Definitely lots of challenges that, for the most part, that we’ve been able to find solutions for. The best part about it is having the great team that we do. Everyone is willing to go above and beyond. This has just been a big, fun reunion of everyone you’ve met over the last ten years. Festival pros from everywhere are congregating. Seeing all those familiar faces, knowing you can call on them whenever, makes the fact that we’ve only had two months to plan a little bit better.”
Q: What is your favorite part of working live events?
Shannon Quiriconi (Event Ops Catering Manager): “I think that my favorite part is the people that you meet and the relationships that you get to build. I’ve always been one of those people who can see somebody, and then not see them again for years and pick right up where you left off. In this industry, you get that everytime you work an event. You run into people that you haven't seen in years and you have that comradery that you would not have had. You get to meet so many interesting people from all over the world and it really enriches you personally and makes for a better life.”
Julie Daly (BOH Ops Manager): “100% the people and the energy. I have made so many friends over the years that have become family. Even on the darkest days, you always know you have your support team and your best friends here with you. The excitement of being at the headlining show and the energy from the crowd has always been the best feeling after so much hard work. It’s very satisfying to feel that at the end of the day.”
Q: What is something that you discovered working in live events that you didn’t expect?
Kara Wiedemer (Signage/Artist Relations): “Something that I did not expect is just how much you can become family with people that you live nowhere near and would not have known. You get to eat every meal together. You look forward to seeing people at the next show. You get surprised when you walk in and see people that you haven’t seen in two years and it’s like a day didn’t pass.”
Q: What was one fire you had to put out this weekend?
Allison Fitts (VIP Ops): “Just a general fire to put out at any festival and something I dealt with yesterday is that security is a multifaceted aspect of the event. There's no one person responsible for it. It’s everyone’s responsibility… Security is hard because so many people have to get on the same page quickly when situations are rapidly evolving. That’s kind of when teamwork can really come into play. When everyone gets on the same page, it’s great, but it’s definitely a challenge to coordinate security across all people.
Q: What is something you wish you would have known before you started working live events?
Zack Lawrence (Artist Relations): “Something that I wish I knew coming into the industry was that there is a large majority, if not all of our industry, that are just as passionate and resilient and hard-working as you are when you first come into the industry and you want to make a name for yourself. I feel like it’s very important to remember to talk to every potential person that you can and generally just be interested in other people and what they do, not only at festivals but for a living. Because showing interest in other people is always a positive, and you can learn something from everyone around you. Everyone knows something that you don’t, and you have something to offer everyone around you that they may not know as well.”
Q: If you could offer any piece of advice to people who are working in events or trying to get started in events?
Shannon Quiriconi (Event Ops Catering Manager): “Just be open to opportunities. You may think that you want to be involved in artist management or staging or lighting, but be really open to learning anything and everything that you can because the more skilled that you are in various areas, the more of a benefit you’ll be to any team and the more opportunities you’ll have in the long run. Listen to those who have done it before and form relationships. Make those bonds with people and they’ll be your resources and advocates for you when you want to move forward.”
Julie Daly (BOH Ops Manager): “Be super open. Be flexible in what you try doing. I’ve done multiple things over the years before I found the role that I like the most. The more things you try, the more you learn every aspect of the festival, how every department operates and you get to meet so many people. Be open-minded and open to try anything.”
Q: What do you think is the most important quality for someone looking to work in live events?
Jenny Bartlett (Festival Director’s Assistant): “ I always feel that having a positive attitude is the most important thing. Positive thinking can change everything. We’re out here in the pouring rain and the sun. It’s Miami in the summer... Being surrounded by people who still have a positive outlook makes all the difference. The minute you turn negative, you’ll never be able to come back from it. Your negativity rubs off on everybody. If you can smile through the worst of it, you’ll realize that we are going to get through it. We are all together. We can make anything happen.”
Q: How are you going to celebrate post-show?
Jessie Baren (FOH Ops Manager): “I’m going to the Nobu Miami booth inside VIP and buying Nobu sushi for all my team.”
Anya Billeck (VIP Ops): “White claw.”
Kara Wiedemer (Signage/Artist Relations): “Sleep.”
Zack Lawrence (Artist Relations): “La Sandwicherie and Club Space.”
Shannon Quiriconi (Event Ops Catering Manager): “Going to live the good life in Costa Rica. Pura Vida”
I feel very fortunate that Rolling Loud 2021 is my first festival on staff. I’ve met so many amazing people, who’ve welcomed me and shared their insight and encouragement. The people here have really made it all worth it. I’m really looking forward to being a part of more shows in the future.