Last week, as Van Halen was preparing to hit the stage at Orlando’s Amway Center, we were fortunate to be backstage with the band’s crew chief, Full Sail graduate Andrew Baldwin, who’s telling us what we can expect from the night’s show. Not that we need a reason to be excited for a Van Halen concert, but there’s definitely a thrill that comes with getting a sneak peek at the set list while surrounded by thousands of eager fans.
“It’s going to be all the classic Van Halen hits,” he says. “It’s raw, it’s live, and there’s a lot of energy. It’s like being on a roller coaster.”
That immediacy is obviously inspired by the band’s new album, A Different Kind of Truth, Van Halen’s first full-length record in nearly 30 years with singer David Lee Roth. The record’s supporting tour kicked off in February, and includes three other grads on crew – Corey Harris (audio technician), Charity Lomax (production coordinator), and Ken McDowell (back of house technician).
Walking backstage with sound techs Ken and Corey, you quickly gain a new respect for the scale of show they’re helping produce. Van Halen’s setup features a blistering audio system, advanced lighting rig, and stage-length LED video display, in addition to the band’s arsenal of gear.
“It’s great to be a part of a tour this size,” Ken says. “Some guys get the one truck tours, but I always seem to get the ones that are 13 to 20 trucks. There’s a lot of work, but we all support each other.”
“I really enjoy this team,” Corey adds. “That’s what makes it a good tour for me, having a great crew with you.”
Just before settling in for the show, we caught Charity, production coordinator and longtime Van Halen fan, who admitted she still takes a break while prepping for their next gig to walk out to the monitor area and catch her favorite songs.
“I grew up listening to Van Halen, and stood in line to buy Van Halen tickets as a kid,” she says. “So for me, working for a band that you liked growing up is really cool. It’s a great experience, and I take it all one day at a time.”