As I sit down to write this blog post, I can’t help but catch myself smiling from cheek to cheek. This Saturday’s past show, The Campus Consciousness Tour featuring Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Mansions on the Moon was a huge success, and for all of the lucky ones who were able to attend, it was an absolutely amazing show!
Luckily for UPB members, we got to see the majority of the show for free in exchange for our hard work putting on the event. Whether it was giving up our Friday afternoon to build the stage, or showing up on Saturday morning at 8:00 AM to load in sound and equipment, if it weren’t for all of UPB’s dedication, the show would not have been as successful as it was!
But for some of us, we got more of an insider’s perspective on what goes on behind the scenes of a convo show. Along with three of my fellow committee members, Jeff, Audrey, and Becca, we were given the opportunity to be runners for the show. Basically, a runner is given backstage access as well as keys to a JMU vehicle for the sole purpose of serving the artists with whatever they may need throughout their stay at JMU. When I first was told that I had been chosen as a runner, I couldn’t imagine how the day would pan out. For all you fellow Taylors out there, we all know that Wiz rolls deep with quite an eclectic entourage.
We showed up at 8:00 AM on Saturday at the Convocation Center, ready and willing to be of help with whatever the day threw at us. The first thing on the agenda was to run a few errands to Wal-Mart, Martin’s, etc. to pick up food, towels, and drinks. Once we had completed that, it was time to set up for the Reverb Event on the commons. I drove my super awesome 12 passenger JMU van over to their tour bus, where we loaded up the equipment. The Reverb crew was extremely nice and down to earth, except they made fun of my driving skills at first! They kept joking around that Harrisonburg probably wasn’t well known for their driving school programs. To justify my driving skills, those huge JMU vehicles are hard to get used to driving, AND I had to parallel park! After a few trips around town, however, I was a pro. 🙂
Once we unloaded the equipment, Audrey and I took two of the Reverb crew members to Starbucks to get them coffee. On the way there, Elliot and Davis told us a little bit more about Reverb and what they’re all about. For those of you that didn’t get a chance to stop by on the commons, I strongly suggest you check out their website! (www.reverb.org) They’re an awesome non-profit organization that is devoted to helping large tours “Go Green”. They also use these tours as an opportunity for outreach, as they often put on events that help people to learn how they can help out the environment and make a difference. So far they’ve done 100 tours, which is definitely something to be proud of, and it’s great for the environment!
Around 3 PM, Jeff and I went to go pick up “Gangsta Will”, Wiz’s tour manager. After checking out the venue and having a brief meeting with production, we took Will and Wiz’s merch guy back to the hotel to sort merchandise for the show. Once that was all complete, we all headed back to Convo to set up the merchandise tables. Audrey and I then took “Light”, one of Wiz’s merch guys, to Wal-Mart so he could pick up a few things while we bought ice for Reverb and other miscellaneous items. After that, it was show-time!
Mansions on the Moon opened up the show, and the crowd was definitely ready for a good time. Once they played their set, Mac Miller took the stage and the crowd went wild! At 8:45, it was time to go pick up Wiz Khalifa and the rest of his crew at their hotel, as his set started at 9:20. Jeff and I grabbed the keys to the van and headed off on our adventure!
We showed up at the bus outside the hotel, and after about 10 minutes, Wiz emerged with his tour manager, the rest of Taylor Gang, as well as his fiancé Amber Rose and her two friends. They were all pumped for the show, and Wiz was definitely ready to rock the stage. He didn’t seem nervous at all, as he was rapping off the top of his head, while the rest of the passengers chimed in. He talked about how much he missed his hometown and how excited he was to have a day off in Pittsburgh next Tuesday to hang out with his friends, but most of all he was really excited to see his dog!
After we dropped him off, Wiz immediately took the stage and played an amazing set. From “Roll Up” to “Black and Yellow”, Wiz put all of his effort into every song he performed, and his positive energy on stage was very contagious! The entire Convocation Center was packed with students singing along and dancing to every song, which was an awesome sight to see. At the end of his set, it was time to get in the van and wait for Wiz and his entourage to get in so that we could escort him to the meet and greet on the other side of Convo. The presence of multiple security members and police officers caught the attention of concert-goers, and before I knew it there was a large number of students waiting to see Wiz. When he got into the van, the crowd erupted into a sea of screams, shouts, and “I LOVE YOU WIZ!”. I’d have to say that driving him to the other entrance of Convo was quite a nerve-racking experience, as there were students trying to get near the van EVERYWHERE! Thankfully the JMU police and ESI security were very helpful, and we got him into his dressing room safely.
After taking a few pictures with the lucky meet and greet winners, it was time to get Wiz and his crew back to the hotel safely, but first, they wanted one thing: ice cream! After picking them up some “Late Night” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, our night was coming to a close. We dropped them off at the hotel, and they thanked us for all of our hard work throughout the day, and we wished them luck with the rest of the tour. After cleaning up the dressing rooms at the Convocation Center, sadly our amazing day had come to an end.
It’s safe to say that this day was one of the best days of my life. I have worked all of the different positions for Convo shows in the past, but hands down being a runner has been my favorite position that I’ve worked! I love being of help to others, and everything that I did throughout the day was definitely worth it, because with our help all of the people affiliated with the tour felt at ease. I’m graduating this May, and I never would have thought that I’d get the chance at such a great experience during my time here at JMU. I’d say that this year’s Spring Concert was the epitome of “winning”, and I’m so proud of UPB for all of their hard work!
~Amanda Corbelli, Center Stage Administrative Chair