Mitch had this stripper friend in L.A. and she had a friend in a band. The band was going on tour and needed a little help.
The band was Sublime, and the tour was Vans Warped Tour 1995 – the very first one.
Mitch did Sublime’s tech, security, and rock star babysitting. Big-time babysitting. The tour was the stuff of drunken and drugged-up legend, with the band (yes, including Lou Dog) acting way out of control and even getting kicked off for a week. They paid Mitch $100 a night, until someone else came along to offer to do the job for free, at which point Mitch got asked to either work for free or split.
Just as Mitch was getting booted, Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour founder and mogul) asked Mitch to be on the lookout for stage divers, and said if he saw one to knock him out. Kevin has a big problem with stage divers.
One guy was dumb enough to jump out of the crowd and onto the stage, and dive back in. Mitch pulled him back out.
…and there were no more stage divers that day.
Kevin, seeing this go down, offered Mitch a job with Warped that day, and since that first one he’s worked on the production side for every single Warped Tour. He also works for some of the other tours and events Kevin has developed since starting Warped.
Now Mitch is stage manager for the Tilly’s Stage (our stage). He makes sure everything’s running on time, sorts out the logistics for switching out gear, makes sure all-access guests stay in their designated areas, and just generally keeps everything backstage in line. He’s a BIG dude. You wouldn’t wanna cross him. Just ask that stage diver.
Since he’s worked the entire 18 years of the tour (making him one of only 3 people, including Kevin Lyman, to do so), Mitch has earned the seniority to work any stage he wants – and he’s dedicated himself to this side stage. He used to work the two main stages, but he “demoted” himself in recent years because he was “sick of all the [band members’] fuckin’ entitlement, too much stupid equipment, no one helping out, shitty attitudes. Too much tight pants. Fuck ’em.”
Anyway, I know this whole story now because last week, while laying down a plywood road between the truck and the stage, I asked Mitch how he ended up hooking up with this tour in its first year. He was more than happy to tell me all of that, and more.
The guy has literally seen it all. And he’s developed a great (if curse-laden) philosophy along the way:
“It’s all the memories you make, man. All this gear, money, cars, fuckin’ pants, you’re not gonna take any of that shit with you.” He tapped his temple. “It’s up here man, that’s all you’ve got when you’re sitting on your fuckin’ deathbed, thinking about your life. Remember that shit. Feed it.”
I should ask Mitch if he’s an Eggers fan.