We were standing down on the dock, hands in our pockets and shooting the shit.
It was the beginning of the call, and though the back of the truck was open we stood a little ways back. You never touch gear inside the truck without someone from the road crew there to call the dump, or at least give you the okay to start grabbing shit. As we stood there, talking about this that and whatever, our audio guy, Derek, sidled up to me and gave me a nudge.
“Check it out,” he said, point to a column of scribbled sharpie on the inside wall of the truck.
“They’re posting out times.”
A closer examination showed that he was right.
Each line was the name of a city or venue, and next to it, how long it took them to strike and pack up the show. The longest out time on the board was Charlotte, NC, at 59 minutes. (Load outs that don’t come in under an hour apparently don’t make it on the board.) And the shortest? A two-way tie between Tuscan and a space in Washington who managed to make it out in 28 minutes. (We think they had to have been able to put gear right off the stage and on the truck without any kind of elevator or lift involved. Fucking cheaters.)
As soon as we saw the times written on the wall, we knew that we had to get The Egg on that board. But we also knew that if we were going to get on that board, being recorded as the slowest time was unacceptable. We had to beat an out time of 59 minutes.
Game on, motherfuckers.
(For the record, it absolutely occurred to us that this may be nothing more than a sly method for getting house crews to haul ass on the out. If it is, it worked, so good for them. At the end of the day, it’s all about the out.)
The second the show came down we hit the deck.
Okay, so I can’t say we attacked that out with any added ferocity. The truth is, we usually try to hurry every show off the stage as quickly as safety will allow. By the time the show comes down, we’re very often in our tenth, twelfth hour of work, and we would very much like to get the fuck out of there. As I said, it’s all about the out. So while the briskness and energy with which we attacked that out was no different than any other out, I can definitely say that I had our goal time in the back of my mind.
There was pride on the line.
That being said, we knew from the start that we weren’t going to be breaking the top spot. Our freight elevator, the only means for getting gear from the deck down to the truck, takes about 5 minutes to travel from one level to the other. Two loads of gear, that means the freight has to travel three times, that means at least 15 minutes taken up just by moving gear from one level to another. And to make things extra fun, the truck was somehow parked so that it was tilted horizontally by a few degrees, just enough so that each case entering the back of the truck took an immediate roll away from us and towards the driver-side wall.
But we gave it a good go. Despite being a 48′ truck, all the cases rode on their wheels, so the pack went pretty quick. We got into a good rhythm, each of us wheeling a case to the truck and immediately returning to the back to grab another so that there was an endless flow of cases, one after another, going into the truck. Every few seconds, the clatter of the steel dock plate as another case struck it and rode up into the truck in a constant rhythm. The road guy pivoted back and forth in a practiced motion, accepting cases and wrestling them into their predesignated spot, and the circular flow of crew quick and efficient. Before long, the freight was empty and the last case being strapped into the back of the truck.
In the end, The Egg crew turned in a respectable 43 minutes. Not amazing, but respectable. Our venue was added to the records, along with the word ‘Lift’ to indicate that the freight elevator was a factor in our time. (Top Gear rules DO apply.)
We successfully got a show in, up, and out. Pride was upheld. And it was all punctuated by a cold beer at the end.
That’s life on deck.