Concert Riders - From the Sublime, to the Ridiculous

Written by: urbanic

Please welcome Guest Blogger, Isabella Woods!


While new indie bands are happy if the venue offers a couple of beers on top of the few dollars for performing, they live in awe of the divas who have made the big time and make ridiculous requests for extras in their private room. Just how silly can those contractual conditions become?


Take Britney Spears. Her backstage needs are specifically listed in the contract between performer and venue/promoter. She insists that a private telephone line is installed in her dressing room. Here’s the kicker; it’s for outgoing calls only and she’ll fine the promoter $5,000 for any unauthorized incoming calls.


Couldn’t you just see an indie band asking what’s wrong with her cell if she wants private calls; it's not like she can't afford the monthly rental. You’d be tempted to get a friend to make an incoming call just so you could take another $5,000 on the night. Doing that over 40 gigs would bring in more than most new indie bands collect from all sources in a year.


Which Sofa Should I Use Tonight?


She also insists upon two boxes of Pop Tarts (the flavor doesn't matter). Froot Loops, cable television to catch the latest football scores, two 6 foot sofas (perhaps courtesy of the local Berkline dealer) – so she has a choice of where to lie down – and an odor free carpet are also on the list. Given the prices these large venues charge for beer and a Coke, they can easily recover the cost of these few requests.


Celine Dion has always oozed the diva class and has many hits we can all perform at the karaoke bar. While indie bands take any room looking like a broom cupboard to be a changing room, Ms Dion requires the room set at exactly 23 degrees Celsius – 73.4 Fahrenheit to the rest of us. You have to wonder what happens if they set it to 73.5 by mistake.

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Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez wants everything backstage to be white. Everything. White tablecloths, curtains, flowers, candles and sofa. Does this also apply to coffee? Who knows, but she does insist it’s stirred counter clockwise. How would she know?


Large numbers of indie bands have studied Van Halen, mostly for guitar playing style, but what about this rider? There’s an excellent reason why they ask for all the brown M&Ms to be removed from the candy bowl. They want to check to see if the promoter has read the contract properly and will avoid any problems with safety management of the backstage area.


My Very Own Toilet Seat


No-one would be surprised at Madonna having one of the longest backstage request lists. If we’re honest, you can probably guess a few of them. The stand out request is for a new toilet seat at every concert she does. You can only presume that they must take it with them otherwise the promoter could sell it on eBay, used only once, by Maddy. At least she won’t have to try and manage those flimsy paper covers the rest of us use if we’re fussy.


Mr. legend himself, recently married Sir Paul McCartney has a number of requests that you’d expect from a vegetarian and animal lover. In addition to his request for exactly 19 leafy six foot plants, presumably to relax the backstage atmosphere, vegetarian only catering is required and absolutely no animal products anywhere. This includes the furniture and carpets, so no tiger throws for the floor, then.


Indian Meal For Dinner?


Getting closer to the indie market, Indian drummers Zakir Hussain and his Masters of Percussion require a home cooked meal wherever they go. The food list includes traditional Indian food which should include white rice, yellow dal, naan bread, chicken curry, vegetable curry, raita yoghurt, spicy pickle and chutney, pasta, salads and soup.


Mad Decent’s Toy Selectah people must be thirsty as they leave stage because they need a bottle of Jack Daniels, 4 St Pellegrino, 20 beers and sodas. Rapper MIA requests a concert rider of one organic cheese tray to include English or French blue cheese, goat cheese, cave-aged gruyere and sharp cheddar.


The most difficult job goes to Katy Perry’s driver. He gets a list of 23 rules and regulations. He or she can’t talk to the singer unless spoken to first and they certainly can’t discuss anything with fans or guests. They mustn’t stare at the back seat through the rear view mirror and won’t receive an autograph or pictures, even if they ask.

The Rest of Us


Of course, the rest of us may consider it lucky if we’re offered a few soggy sandwiches and a six pack of warm beers. Are you at a point in your career where you’re regularly offered a rider by the venue? If so, to what level are you catered for? Could you (or, indeed, have you) ever gotten away with asking for something ludicrous?

Do let us know of your previous experiences on this front, as well as your thoughts on the outrageous nature of super-star riders…



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