terry charles | behind the stage | july 2015
Let's put one thing to rest right from the start. Lambeau Field has proven to be a big success for stadium concert tours. Kenny Chesney and The Zac Brown Band were a big hit in 2011, and the more than 53,000 people at the Chesney/Aldean gig on June 20 made that concert even bigger. The industry knows it. Lambeau Field is an iconic venue and when you book superstars it makes for a winning combination. This concert was co-promoted by Green Bay's own PMI Entertainment Group.
The concert set-up began in earnest on Tuesday morning, June 16. By Friday morning, June 19 the stage build was pretty much complete. All that was left on Friday was to load in the Chesney and Aldean production elements. That took most of the day and by late afternoon the sound checks were in full force. There were a lot of moving parts in between though. As many as 150 workers were brought in from around the state to unload about 50 trucks. The stage and structure weighed 400,000 pounds and it took 13 trucks just to haul that!
The backstage area for this concert was across the tunnel from the Packers' media auditorium. It was in an area near the visiting team's locker room and an area used by the local media to send their stories during the football season. Every artist had a dressing room in that area as well as a production office. There was also a massage therapist on duty in the same location. That is very typical on concert days even at the Resch Center. Perhaps the most organized tour office was that of Chesney. His production and management staff had well-organized rows with large nameplates on their desks. Everyone was super nice to work with and they were very happy to be back at Lambeau Field. As you can imagine, backstage was very busy with the moving parts of five different bands. When one band ended, there was a parade of stagehands carrying the guitars, drum sets and so forth through the tunnel and eventually back on the tour trucks. It was a very organized system.
My duties for the entire day consisted of escorting the local media who were on hand to cover this major event. Most got pictures, video and interviews of the tailgaters in the parking lot before they came inside the venue to get shots of the crowd in the stadium and get photos and video of the performers. I made several trips from the bowl to the tunnel to outside of the security gate to escort media as they arrived at different times. Security was similar to a game day, so every time I re-entered I needed to be checked by a hand-held metal detector called a wand. The same Green Bay Police officer was at the post for the duration of the concert.
The concert started promptly at 4:30 p.m. as advertised and the sets by each artist were pretty much on time. Kenny Chesney took the stage a little after nine and played until after 10:30 p.m. Then Jason Aldean joined him on stage for the encore and the two performed together until about 11:15 p.m. I overheard a couple of people on the tour say they thought this was the best stop on their tour so far with the Lambeau crowd providing a lot of electricity. As I headed out I saw the parade of stagehands lining up, getting set to undo what it took them three days to build. The dismantling would take much less time, and by late Sunday afternoon everything was pretty much gone. I'm sure the memories of this special night will last a long time for many people. My tired legs already felt pretty good the next day!
Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.