Granada Theater relies on detailed preparation before each performance

Fires don’t usually stop the Granada Theater from producing a show. But that changed when a fire halfway across the state almost ruined everything.

Drew Wille, Granada Theater director of marketing, said she would never forget the day a fire in western Kansas caused serious problems for the Granada at 1020 Massachusetts St.

The venue hosted New Orleans-based alternative rock band Mutemath on Sept. 16. Wille even came in to work on her day off because of the highly anticipated show.

“I wanted to run this show,” Wille said. “I wanted to meet everyone. I wanted to hang out.”

But things didn’t go as planned, and Wille got more than she bargained for. Mutemath’s tour bus began to have problems on the drive from Colorado Springs, Colo., to Lawrence. Friction from trailer’s axel eventually caused the trailer to catch fire.

Photo by Kristen Pelz.

And after that, the bus had engine problems to go along with it.

The fire and subsequent bus troubles the band dealt with caused a domino effect of pushbacks for the Granada.

The venue uses a strict chores-list that needs to be finished before the doors open and fans start pouring in. Of those things on the list, the most important are the two that directly involve the concert’s performers: stage set-up and sound check.

Cameron Lauer, house manager at the Granada, said the band was scheduled to load in at 1 p.m., but didn’t make it on time. Wille received emails from the band that said they wouldn’t be able to make it until 2 p.m.

“Which is fine,” Wille said. “Normally tours with big production schedule early load-ins to have leeway in case something goes wrong.”

Wille and the band sent emails back and forth, which then turned into phone calls, and each call pushed back the band’s estimated time of arrival.

“We are just west of Salina, now the engine is over heating,” Scott Cannon, Mutemath’s tour manager, said in an email to Wille. “I guess when it rains it pours.”

The band finally arrived at the Granada at 7:30 p.m., 30 minutes after the doors were supposed to open.

“There was a line to the end of the block,” Lauer said. “The line curved around 11th Street.”

Wille said that the production for the band’s show usually takes about three hours. But the band showing up late forced the crew to recruit extra workers to help them get it done in 45 minutes. Friends from other venues, such as the Bottleneck, helped out.

A normal production set-up for the Granada uses two people; in this case, Wille said 20-30 people helped out on stage. Wille said people in the local music industry saw how stressful the situation was and understood how crucial it was for the Granada to get everything done.

“It was a good sense of community,” Wille said. “People dropped everything they were doing.”

But the clock kept ticking. The venue pushed back the door opening to 10 p.m., and Mutemath didn’t want to cut anything from its set, which featured a lot of light production.

Wille said that the show needed to be over by midnight because of a city ordinance on all-ages shows. So Civil Twilight, the opening act, began the show by playing its set on the floor while crewmembers set up the stage behind them.

Nathan Wilden, affectionately referred to around the venue and the music industry as “Tissue,” is a sound engineer for the venue and a touring sound engineer for the electronic-pop band Breathe Carolina. Wilden said that a lot of fans don’t understand the amount of work the crew does. Before doors open, he sets up the bands’ sound for the show.

“The kids are always like, ‘why don’t you do that before the show?’” Wilden said of the sound checks for Mutemath. “Well it’s like, ‘We try!’”

Mutemath played its normal set with all of the lights and production it uses on any other night of the tour and still finished the show by midnight.

“It was flawless,” Wille said. “The only thing that would have been different was that there wasn’t an encore. The band just played all its songs through without stopping.”

Once the band finished, the normal Granada crewmembers unloaded the stage, locked up the venue, and went to the bars to hang out.

Lauer made sure to point out that, although the members of Mutemath could have made things tough for the Granada, they ended up being great guests.

“They could have made it a lot worse,” Lauer said. “They made it exponentially better.”

Dylan Lysen is a senior from Andover majoring in journalism. Read more from .

  • Updated Jan. 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm
  • Edited by Allison Kohn