Welcome back to Almost Famous: On the Road with Nico Vega. If you missed the first installment you can find it here. In Part 1 I gave you a behind the scenes look at the road -- inside the van and amid the travels. For Part 2 we park the van, venture into the venue, and take a look at the greenroom.
The pre-show routine is somewhat of a ritual act. The Nico Vega rider (aka the hospitality stuff that they request) includes, among other items: a bottle of red wine, a bottle of Jack Daniels, fresh squeezed OJ, ginger ale, organic fruit, toasted seaweed, rice cakes & almond butter, tortilla chips & salsa, and granola bars. Are all of the requests honored? Eh, not always. Do they sometimes get way more than they requested (like the brie and corn on the cob we got tonight)? Yes indeed.
After loading in all of the gear (which the boys handle, luckily for me and Aja), and after setting it up, the band dives into soundcheck. Dan pounds a hypnotic beat on the drums, Rich shreds a little somethin' on the guitar and Aja screams a few rounds of "WHAT?!!" into the microphone. The whole process takes roughly an hour. The Nico Vega tour manager, Derek Brener, is also their Front of House/Sound Engineer, so luckily for everybody involved it's a pretty fluid process.
Next, ideally, comes a little chill time. The band retires to the greenroom to eat, get dressed, do hair/makeup, create a set list and warm up. This part is exactly how you think it would be. It's almost like getting ready for a first date on a Saturday night -- you try to look your best, present your most amazing self and hope for some great chemistry.
Sometimes there are pre-show obstacles: no greenroom; no soundcheck ... or Aja can't figure out a cute way to wrap the sparkly thing around her head. The band is a group of professionals however, so everything is pretty much taken in stride.
My personal favorite Nico Vega pre-show rituals?
Hairspray: Hairspray is a crucial part of getting ready for each band member. "Where is the hairspray?" is asked before every show ... by each of them ... at least once. It creates a deliberate windblown, disheveled, couldn't-care-less look -- very rock 'n' roll.
Banding Up: Wrists are stamped and bracelets are distributed to the band and crew so the people at the venue know who we are. It's the closest thing I have to feeling Almost Famous and at this point I'll take what I can get. "I'm with the band" is one of the most awesome things to say ... ever.
Walking Out: The moment before the show, when "Nico Vega!" is called and the crew begins to march out of the greenroom -- I don't know about them, but I feel a significant rush of adrenaline. I'm hit with the energy of the band, the enthusiasm of the audience, the anticipation of the set -- it's an electric sensation night after night.