Event Timeline
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Bill Graham Civic QuickTime VR or Connectix Crowd Snaps

At 3PM two fellows in Beastie Boys t-shirts, jeans and buzzcuts stand, alone, at the entrance to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in San Francisco. The sun is bright and the air is about 62 degrees, farhenheit, with a stiff breeze. The two guys have bright red sunburned faces.

3000 tickets have been sold for a Primus show...hometown boyz...at a hall that can, according to the fire marshall, safely hold 8900. The crew soundchecks for the band. Primus doesn't even have to show up until dinnertime. One technician calls across the stage to another: "Does this sound louder to you than usual?"

It's a minimal setup, plenty of room, over 15 feet, separate the area where the performers will be from the expected curling sludge of the moshkids, down in front. Two scaffolds of exposed steel on either side of the stage contain simple fresnels and more complex hand operated cyberlights. The form of the tools of stagecraft create the style of the set.

Back at the soundboard a miniature portable recording setup sits at the ready. 24 tracks of digital media to capture every breath and clunk.

Cap'n Shiner erected during setup

Cap'n Shiner is erected during setup

At 4:04PM, the merchandise pallet rolls by stacked with four-color process Primus t-shirts in black, blue, white and red. There are hats, stickers, buttons and cd's. Hangers, duct tape, cardboard boxes....the crew drop piles of clothing on the polished stone floor of the Civic lobby and start counting. These guys are the Vinnies. The sight of these god-loving union guys delicately hanging pink babydoll midriff Primus t-shirts on a hanger is priceless. The Vinnies work for the "guy with the concession to sell merch" at large venues, including Candlestick Park. They hawk their wares with identical tambre and lusty-voiced caterwauling. "t-shirts", HEY,GET YER SOOVINEERS..." These guys are the real article.

On one side of the auditorium hallway it's the Vinnies, big-bellied and vacant-eyed. Directly across from them are the hatchet-faced Skinnies with technicolor hair squinting, bug-eyed, frowning into crt's. Their cordoned area is a riot of cabling and colorful television screens. Mysterious boxes with names like "Indy" and "Sparc" crouch on tabletops, green lights winking on and off in random bursts ready for the rock-n-roll they will broadcast to the world.

Everything is catchup. There is never enough time. There are equipment failures and connectivity problems. Situation normal. Everyone forgets to eat or wear enough clothing. The show goes on, and personalities are dissolved into the greater need to put Primus & the rest of the bands over the Internet.

Entry turnstyle

Perhaps you were under the mistaken impression that turnstyles were only for Disneyland? Thousands of fans were waiting to pass through these puppies...
Allen Whitman - May 7th, 1996