It’s a sunny but windy April 3 at the Canadian Tire Centre. The ice surface has been dried and countless boxes, pushcarts, girders and cables were moved around by over a hundred crew members, dressed in jeans or sweat suits.
What began as a disorganized mess slowly found order as boxes are were emptied, and their contents were assembled into a giant stage.
The girders are connected to form rigging and expensive lights are hung beneath with precision before being hoisted high into the arena by dozens of cables attached to the roof earlier that morning.
It takes around eight hours for this massive operation to transform from organized chaos into a nearly complete rock stage.
The crew is professional. They’ve done this hundreds of times. They are the crew for KISS; here to make this a memorable performance.
Meanwhile in Section 101, students from both music industry arts programs had been invited to watch the set-up,
“I feel like the people who are going to watch the show, they do not realize all the effort and the work put together before it,” said intro to music arts student, Kebi Lozi.
Lozi reflected on the number of people needed to set up the stage for what he said was “maybe two hours of music.”
Around 11 p.m., the students were visited by Chad Guy, the advance production manager of KISS, and other production heads including: Sean (Motley) Hackett, John McLeish and Robert Long.
The students were with the crew for a two hour question and answer period. Other staff members dropped in to give their input before disappearing back into the production.
“This is a well-oiled machine now. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing; everybody knows their role,” said Mike Wood, an intro to music arts professor. “They played Quebec City last night. So all of this would have been torn down in Quebec City and trucked up here last night and would have got here about four or five in the morning.”
Wood has been organizing visits by his class to various events since the start of the program in 2007. He had contacts in the industry from his days touring in a band. The first class had to opportunity to watch the set up for Avril Lavigne as she prepared for her performance at that year’s Juno Awards.
Since then the class has been invited over the years to see the set-up for various acts: Bob Seger, Hedley, Sean Mendes, Carlos Santana, and the 2017 Juno Awards.
“I’ve never been outright refused,” Wood said. “In the 11 years that the program’s been running, we’ve had nine shows we’ve gone to. There’s only been two years that something wasn’t coming through at this time of year.”
With the stage set-up mostly complete, the music industry arts students began to wrap up their day and return to the college.
“I thought it was pretty cool. I thought it would take way longer but it looks like it’s already done,” said another media industry arts student, Mat Laurin. “There are a lot of guys working hard. Looks like they have a good team going. I didn’t see anyone arguing.”
Laurin said he would consider being part of an operation like this in the future.
“It would probably be a good experience,” he said.