An Interview with Production Manager David Lebin
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An Interview with Production Manager David Lebin
July 1, 2020
Recently, we had the opportunity to have a phone interview with David Lebin. David is one of the Production Managers at The Intersection, a music venue in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In this interview we’ll dig into his role at the venue and look at how the stage is in involved with the planning of a show.
What is your role at The Intersection?
“My official title is Production Manager. The job is far broader than the title entails. I am one of two managers who run the day-to-day operations of the venue. I am in charge of the entire staff before, during and after the event. I am also the point of contact for the tour. I am the first person in the building to let the tour in and am the last out of the building after settling with the Tour Manager. Typically, on the day of a show, I arrive at 10 – 11 AM and don’t leave until around midnight. For EDM shows and raves, I don’t arrive until around 6 PM and am there until 5 AM sometimes.”
When did you decide you were interested in production management?
“I’ve been in and around music since middle school. I think I always knew I would end up in this industry, but it took many years before I found my way to where I am today. When I was in college studying business in the entertainment industry, I never thought I would find my way to a venue. When an opportunity opened up at The Intersection in 2016, I took it and have loved it here ever since.”
What does your day look like when there’s a show?
“My day begins an hour before load in. I like to get in the venue early to settle in and get my world set up before welcoming the tour in. Load in is determined during the advance of the show. After load in is complete the stage is set up to spec, and backline check begins for the headliner at the tour’s discretion.
My afternoon can be filled with VIP meet and greet set up with the tour, getting the bar tills and money side of the venue set up prior to doors, as well as fulfilling requests coming in from the tour. My last goal in the afternoon before bar, security, and box office staff show up is getting the artist settle finished and ready for the end of the night.
Once the show-time staff start arriving I have to switch to manager mode and get everyone prepped for doors. This includes getting bar staff up and running, getting security all the credential information and any special requests for the night (crowd-surfing, artist/fan interaction, safety meetings), and making sure box office is set up and ready to start taking tickets.”
Once doors open, I am there to assist the tour as well as my staff while making sure the show is running on time and without any issues. I always joke that people in our line of work are just professional chaos managers.
As the show finishes and we clear the bar tabs and guests in the venue, load out begins alongside cleanup. Depending on the size of the production, load out could be anywhere from a ½ hour to 3 hours.”
What work is done ahead of time to prepare the stage?
“The Intersection hosts over 300 concerts and events a year. There is constant maintenance done on and around our stages on a weekly basis. Our production staff’s job is to make sure the stage is clear after each show and before each load in unless otherwise specified by the next tech rider.
Because we have so many shows a year, our gear needs maintenance often as well. Our engineers regularly go through our gear and repair anything that has worn down over time.”
Does the band send requirements for the stage set-up ahead of time?
“We “advance” the show as far in the future as possible. We get ahold of the Tour Manager and get any necessary stage plots, input sheets, and tour specific information we might need to make sure the show goes smoothly. This could mean ordering CO2 tanks, renting backline equipment, or setting up specific house light plots to accommodate their plot design. We also have the ability to create custom layouts or add a thrust or catwalk if needed.”
How important is the stage when it comes to a band deciding to book a show at your venue or is it more about the overall size/capacity of the venue?
“The Intersection is a unique venue in that we have four separate rooms of varying sizes as well as an outdoor space to hold events. These spaces give us an opportunity to host many different sized tour productions. For example, say an artist has a large production that can only fit in our main room; however, they might not command a 1500 cap size room. We would still opt to put it in the bigger room based on the production needs. Conversely, many club/theater touring acts tour with modular production rigs to scale up or down depending on the trim of the stage. The main stage of The Intersection has a trim height of around 17 ½ ft. There are times we may get the “B rig” because our trim height is lower than some other theaters on the tour.
Since we have four rooms, there are times during our busy season when we host three concerts in one night.”
In the past you’ve also worked as a production manager for outdoor concerts. What’s the difference between preparing for an outdoor concert vs. preparing for one inside?
“Each type of event offers different challenges. Outdoor events require much more backend work as there are permits to pull, site op needs that need to be met prior to even pre-production staff arriving, as well as full stages that need to be erected.
Indoor venues have the infrastructure already in place. They are much more turn-key in the sense that most everything needed to throw a concert is static.
The Intersection has a concert series called Rock The Lot. It is a summer concert series in our parking lot with a cap of 2300. Recently, we built an outdoor awning as well as received a more comprehensive liquor license to have as many events outside as we want during the summer season. It still takes an extra day of pre-production to fly a PA and build bike rack and outdoor bars. While there are more logistics involved, it is a nice change of pace from a venue perspective.”
What do you like most about your job?
“If it weren’t for the staff and amazing community The Intersection has cultivated, my job wouldn’t be half as fun as it is. Being able to be a part of Grand Rapids’ music scene has been so fulfilling. People like Scott Hammontree, Chad Verwey, and Jimmy Rains are amazing leaders who have done so much for our community. I am truly grateful to give people an escape from their daily lives to come together and enjoy music.”
We’d like to thank David for taking the time to speak with us and even though concerts aren’t happening right now, here’s to hoping they’re able to resume safely in the near future!
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