The Artist Who Asked For A Gun, And Other Crazy Backstage Riders

We asked artists performing at Panorama this weekend for their stories.

Historically, part of the fun of being a musician is the ability ― usually within reason, sometimes not ― to do whatever you want. Enter the contract rider, which, while detailing technical sound and lighting requirements an artist needs the venue to provide, may also include specific hospitality requests. Candy. Drinks. Seating. Room temperature. Some of these get very specific ― last year, the University of Oklahoma leaked Jack White’s rider that (absurdly) requested homemade guacamole prepared according to a very specific recipe and asked that no bananas be “anywhere in the building.”

We asked artists playing New York’s Panorama Music Festival this weekend to share the craziest rider requests they’ve seen so far ― with or without naming names. (Of course, someone asked for a gun.)

Here they are, in no particular order.


The Julie Ruin heard about a pinball machine.

“I love that Ryan Adams travels with his own pinball machine and there has to be a place for it in every backstage!”

Listen: “I’m Done


JDH & Dave P knew a musician who wanted their M&Ms separated by color.

“M&M’s separated by color, clean socks, stamped postcards, cartons of cigarettes, you name it.”

Listen: “The Lab NYC Set


 Flosstradamus was there when Dillon Francis asked for a gun.

“Dillon Francis asked for a gun once and it was fulfilled in Wisconsin while we were on tour together. We ended up using it in the venue. Bad idea.” ― Curt Cameruci

Listen: “Prison Riot


Grace Potter wanted a blow-up doll.

“There’s a bunch. I won’t name names, but, yeah, a blow-up doll. And I will name names, because it was me. Yeah, we wanted to get a blow-up doll for ― it was somebody’s birthday. We wanted to have it set up, and we had to have the venue prep it for us because the birthday was in Alabama, and you couldn’t get blow-up dolls in Alabama, so you had to get it in a different city, I think.”

Listen: “Stars


Tourist judged someone for their specific bottled water request.

“I once observed an argument where someone demanded a specific brand of bottled water.”

Listen: “Run


White Lung asked for a custom cake.

“I heard that Juliette Lewis demands that she have a ‘big, black bouncer’ guarding her dressing room, but who knows how true that is. We once requested yellow roses, pink hand towels, lubricant and a cake that says, ‘God Bless White Lung.’ The cake was delicious.”

Listen: “Below


Silversun Pickups wanted a framed picture of Björk.

“A framed picture of Björk and a houseplant. I won’t name names but it rhymes with Riverrun Hiccups.” ― Brian Aubert


Nathaniel Rateliff heard someone ask for caviar.

Listen: “S.O.B.


Rufus du Sol heard an artist ask for “a portrait of the band painted by a local artist.”

Listen: “Say a Prayer For Me


Preservation Hall Jazz Band just wants a lot of health food.

“I’m actually impressed with how healthy the bands are we tour with. We always have roasted chicken and steamed broccoli on our rider. It’s important to be healthy on the road. The food we get backstage is usually the only meal we get that day, so it’s super important that it’s healthy. I don’t allow sugar, candy or cakes backstage! Is that strange? I think it’s smart.”

Listen: “That’s It


Oh Wonder heard about “a February 1967 edition of Playboy.”

Listen: “Without You


Prinze George saw someone ask for a lot of ginger, but wasn’t into it.

“Albert Hammond Jr. chops and chews on large quantities raw ginger before every show. Hadn’t seen that before. He said it’s good for the voice, and I know he’s right, but I tried some of his ginger after a show one night and had to spit it out. It was too intense. I prefer wine.”

Listen: “Victor


Little Scream knew someone who asked for very clean ice cubes.

“Diet coke with washed ice cubes. Who asks someone to wash their fucking ice cubes for them? I know who. But I’m not telling!”

Listen: “Love as a Weapon


The Front Bottoms heard someone ask for “a Dairy Queen burger,” which probably shouldn’t exist.

Listen: Help


Ex Hex knew someone who wanted a treadmill.

Listen: “Waterfall


Daughter just wanted to hang out with puppies.

“We used to have a pretty sweet one. We used to ask people to bring their dogs in to visit us as an official rider request ... We never thought anyone would do it, but it actually happened one time, and it was the best day!” ― Elena Tonra

Listen: “How


DJ Harvey wants hand towels and water.

“Most of them are pretty strange actually, demands for all kinds of things. I ask for some hand towels and lots of water; it’s the tech part where mine can get interesting. A lot of DJs today are brats, won’t play if they can’t get the one mixer they know how to use, etc. I have preferences, of course, but at the end of the day if you can blend between the tracks you want to play, you use what’s there and get on with it. You’re there for the people, not the other way around, and to let them down over a bratty demand is not acceptable in my book.”


Classixx borrowed the idea to ask for scratch-off lottery tickets from some friends.

“Our friends, Flight Facilities, request lotto scratchers on their rider, which is a very clever idea. We stole that one from them, and it now resides on our rider. Some of our friends throw an epic dance party in LA and a classic house DJ once requested a fruit platter and MDMA. I thought that was an interesting combo.” ― Michael David


Caveman once envied another artist’s BBQ setup.

“I can’t think of any really strange ones but the best backstage setup I saw was when we played a festival with the Deftones and they had their own grill and were barbecuing right next to the artist food spot and then had a massive sound system and bar in their tent. It was awesome.” ― Matthew Iwanusa

Listen: “Never Going Back


Aurora has some strange ideas of her own.

“I’m not that into the music world yet ― haven’t caught up with the latest gossip. BUT it would’ve been very strange if someone requested spoons that dissolve every time they get in contact with food and water.”

Listen: “Life on Mars

The Panorama Music Festival kicks off on Randall’s Island in New York City on July 22, 2016.


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