Students studying with Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga got a behind-the-scenes look into one of the biggest acts in the music industry when they worked as stage crew at a recent Day on the Green concert featuring Sir Elton John.
Mr Nathan Pippin, a Wagga Wagga local, Miss Georgia Mason, who hails from Nowra, Miss Deanna Taylor originally from Maitland, and Miss Andy Cassar from Lithgow, were four Charles Sturt students lucky enough to nab a spot helping out at the Rutherglen concert on Wednesday 29 January.
The opportunity came through Mr Pippin’s casual employer, Stage Management Group, who asked if he could recommend anyone who would be interested in a backstage job at Elton John’s concert.
The four students, who are all studying creative industries degrees at the Charles Sturt School of Communication and Creative Industries in Wagga Wagga, jumped at the opportunity and thought it would be great industry experience to complement their studies.
“I have helped set up and pack up for concerts before, but Elton John’s concert is the biggest concert I’ve ever worked at,” Mr Pippin said.
“I was absolutely wowed by the amount of gear he had.
“I think he had about 27 semi-trailers worth of gear, so it was a big job to work with Elton’s crews to get everything ready and then packed away.”
Mr Pippin (pictured) first started setting up for the concert the day before.
“I went up on Tuesday to help set up the lighting and sound gear, and on Wednesday when the concert was on, I kind of got thrown in the deep end.
“One member from crew called in sick, so instead of assisting, I was given the job of ‘follow spot’ for Elton John’s bass player.
“I was in charge of operating one of the lights so it always followed the bass player wherever he was on stage.
“I was chosen because I have done this before, I was a follow spot for Tim McGraw at last year’s Deniliquin Ute Muster.”
Miss Mason, who was part of the concert’s ‘bump out crew’, said she is proud to say her first industry gig was working backstage at an Elton John concert.
“My main job was to help pack up all the lighting, which involved rolling up all of the cords, packing it into boxes and then rolling it up to the truck,” Miss Mason said.
“What I have learned so far during my time at Charles Sturt University came in handy because I already knew how to properly pack up the equipment.
“Overall, it was a great first industry gig, I got to make connections and get an insight into ‘the behind the scenes’ part of a concert.”
Miss Taylor (pictured), who is an aspiring actress and usually the one on stage, wanted to work at the concert to get some industry experience working behind the scenes.
“I have worked a lot of theatre shows and during my time at university, I have been working hard to build my skills both on stage and behind the scenes,” Miss Taylor said.
“This is why I wanted to work at the concert.
“All of us students were given different allocations and on the first day, mine was to help set up the performers’ dressings rooms by bringing in and organising things like costumes, shoes, lounges, carpets and plants.
“The next day I was helping set up Elton’s piano and buffing it, which was pretty cool.”
Miss Cassar, who says costume design is her passion, got the job of wardrobe assistant for Elton and his band.
“I was responsible for unpacking and steaming garments, organising the bands garments, and helping pack up the costumes and loading them on to the trucks,” Miss Cassar said.
“Working at the Elton John show was my first industry standard gig. It was the most professional and organised production I have worked on.
“After university, I'd love to work in live music and entertainment, hopefully doing something in costume design.”
All of the students said that working at the concert has cemented that working in the entertainment industry is what they want to do after university.
“I really like designing things and in my degree at Charles Sturt University, there is a lot of design – from costume design to set design to lighting design,” Miss Mason said.
“It is really fun to work on productions and I hope I get the opportunity to do more industry production work again.”
Even though the students didn’t get to meet Elton, they all agreed the opportunity to work at the concert was a privilege.
“When Elton finished his concert, he walked passed a group of us and gave us a big wave and smile, that was really cool,” Miss Mason said.