An interview with a stage hand who helped build Kanye West’s floating platform at TD Garden
The mercurial Kanye West rolled through town this past weekend, his ongoing Saint Pablo tour taking over TD Garden in Boston on Saturday night. And like previous stops of the tour, which kicked off last month in Indiana, the star of the show was once again Kanye’s 360-degree “floating stage.”
Hovering over the floor and general admission crowd, the stage is part space ship, part pirate plank, part church pulpit that gives fans an intimate and unique look at, and access of, the performer. Elevated by pulley system, the stage leans in and out, can be raised on a whim, and lowers down with Kanye’s weight, putting him right in the face of his frenzied fans below.
We’re told that at the Garden show on Saturday — which was delayed in part due to efforts to get the stage working properly — there was plenty of room to move around in the general admission area, so fans mostly created a perimeter around the stage as Kanye performed. Others danced and moshed (yes, moshed) under the large plank, and security mostly allowed people to stand where they felt most comfortable. By most accounts, it was an epic experience.
Vanyaland tracked down a local stage hand who helped assemble the stage at TD Garden, and our source revealed its as big of a shitshow as it looks. We’ve kept the person’s identity hidden.
Michael Marotta: So, how was the show?
TD Garden Stage Hand: It was one of the worst shows I have ever worked. There was a serious lack of communication between all of their road crew. From what I was told he had four different set ups depending on weight capacity of the venue / size of the venue. It was a two-day set up. Day one was dedicated to just rigging. The trucks showed up five hours late. Day two was supposed to start at 10 a.m. A typical show of this size starts at 8 a.m., maybe earlier. They ended up calling in a crew to come in early at 8 and start setting up.
Everything they had been working on was for a smaller sized venue and was wrong. Most of their crew had no clue what was going on and were super on edge. Bickering with each other. Multiple small little meltdowns between their road guys happened all day, which affected how they treated us. They had our crew working right up until doors opened. If anyone was wondering what caused the delays for the show, it was not Kanye — it was his road crew. From what I was told Kanye was aware of the situation and was in his dressing room and said, “When you’re ready, just knock on my door and I will perform.”
Was building the stage easier or harder than usual? People hate on him but I think the stage is genius.
The actual stage was really simple. It was all supported by what we call a super grid. Which was huge. It left very little room for us to work. And was pretty obnoxious, but the concept was simple. There were two long sticks of truss that went up and down the Garden that acted as a track that pulled the stage up and down. Similar to how a rollercoaster would work.
I give him credit for not just going with a basic stage. When the show starts, is he already on the plank as its lowered?
I actually didn’t catch the start of the show. I don’t know that, but I would assume yes.
Did the stage show up already assembled and you guys just strung it to the rafters? Or was it put together inside the Garden? Had you ever build anything like that before?
It’s a mixture of both, kind of. Like all of these shows are pre-assembled in a way, like Legos. It was a total of like 30 something 18 wheelers [of gear]. They come in pieces we unload trucks in an order and build certain sections at a time. We have done similar hangs but we’ve never had a stage float for the entire show. We’ve done runways and stuff that floated to the stage, like Taylor Swift did. And Bieber floated down from the rafter recently.
Most shows have all the kinks worked out because they do they happen so often but since this show has so many variables it caused a lot of stress and was what I would consider a clusterfuck in the technicalities aspect.
Oh, man. But things went off without a hitch! I did not read about any casualties, and he’s yet to fall off…
He’s got a harness on. He needs to legally. It looked like his harness was made special right into his white jacket that he’s wearing. You could see it clearly. And yeah… I wouldn’t expect any casualties. They had steel that was rated to safely hold WAY beyond what him and the stage weighed. It was definitely 100% safe. All of the kinks were mostly in electronics and lighting focus. Some cables weren’t properly labeled and it caused some yelling and frustration but it all worked out. Nothing was jeopardized in the aspect of safety one bit. Bolts were triple checked. Weight limits were triple checked. Eyes went over everything to make sure everything was secure.