Behind virtually every band you see on stage, there are unseen men and women who wrestle with monitor mixes, tune drumheads, carry un-carryable bass amps, argue with impossible promoters, scramble to find change for someone buying a baseball hat, negotiate with hotel clerks who don’t speak their language, change money and change money back, drive thousands of miles through the night, drive thousands of miles through the snow, drive thousands of miles through the rain.
Today, we honor all road crew through the spirit of just one of them: Nick Alexander, who lost his life Friday night.
The artists who move you, who make you jump and wiggle and crouch and crawl and cry and scream, would not be standing in front of you without the beautiful, beastly, dirty, dainty, sleepless, slatternly, profane, proud, patient, impatient, tattooed, committed, and committable army of men and women who make these moments of onstage transcendence possible.
Sometimes, it’s just one guy or girl who does all the driving and dashes from soundboard to merch stand to van to dressing room; other times, it’s three long busses full of professionals who have made this their life’s work. In any event, these are the men and women behind the curtain who make the wizard’s fantastic onstage humbuggery a reality.
Today, we honor all of them through the spirit of just one of them: Nick Alexander, who lost his life Friday night. He wasn’t just a “merch guy.” He was a member of the ensemble who happened to play T-shirts.
Please think of him and please be thankful for all of the people who make the musicians’ dreams possible, and who make it possible for us to dream through music.
To isolate one victim of Friday’s attacks is inappropriate. But there is no such thing as a small life; we must recognize that every life lost leaves a hole in the world.
To isolate one victim of Friday’s attacks is inappropriate. But there is no such thing as a small life, so we must recognize that every life lost leaves a hole in the world, one that is absolutely unique.
Every victim of Friday’s obscenity leaves an empty place in a bed, an empty seat at the dinner table, an empty desk at an office, an empty stool at a favorite bar, an untold story by a child’s bedside, a bicycle in a garage without a rider, an empty seat by the window in the tour bus; and from this moment forward, for as long as there is someone alive who loved or knew one of these victims, that person remains in someone’s heart and memory. Twenty-four years from now, 44, 52, 88 years from now, someone will be alive who sees and feels that empty seat at the dinner table.
Nick Alexander’s life and work is important to every person who has made music, every person who listens to music, and every person who has ever been inside a club or a concert hall and found themselves deep in the thrall of the experience of live music. By honoring his profession, I hope to do some honor to the man; and by honoring one man, I hope to shine some light on the idea that every victim (these names we may hear for a moment, the names we will never hear), touched a thousand and more lives.
I did not know Nick Alexander. But I know his brothers. And next time you are staring at a stage, next time your feel your chest vibrate because of the humping, humming low end throttling out of the speakers, next time you look through the haze of the smoke and the lights to the dreamers on stage singing the words that express your thoughts even better then you can express them yourself, please see Nick in the lights, hear him in the music, feel him in the hiss and holler of the amps, and be aware that his brothers and sisters are in the room, too, making it all happen.