There is more to a great show than the singer or actor. Numerous people in the entertainment industry are often overlooked, but the Mercury is out to celebrate them.
If a musician makes an extravagant request for their dressing room to be filled with flowers before their gig at Waves, Paul Camkin is the man to make it happen – or say no.
The hotelier moonlights as a booking agent and has been setting the entertainment calendar at the Towradgi night spot and the adjoining sports bar since 2002.
Camkin said riders were mostly included in an act’s contract and could sometimes get a little expensive.
“The internationals more – like Boyz II Men – you know, they’d like two dozen long stem red roses and they only want to drink French champagne,” he said.
While others have asked for six “tube socks and sh*t like that”. But not all the weird requests get granted.
“Quite often I get out my red pen and put a big line through, [they can] get their own red socks,” he said.
When established acts like Grinspoon or Birds of Tokyo present a list of demands, Camkin doesn’t mind as he believes it’s deserved. What he does mind is up-and-coming acts who think they’re as big as Grinspoon and want it all.
And yes, there have been times when musicians would like a bag of jelly snakes with all the red ones taken out.
Waves has a capacity for 1450 people but can also do smaller shows with the stage brought forward. The venue hosts around 35 to 40 headline acts per year while the sports bar in Towradgi Beach Hotel hosts around 150.
“My job is to secure the acts, contract them … and make sure everyone gets paid and it’s getting promoted properly,” Camkin said.
Sometimes the job description flexes to include having a beer backstage with the band or even saving patrons from falling out of the disused go-go birdcages which are suspended to the left of stage.
“It was The Living End [several years ago] and ... a girl got up and managed to get lifted into this birdcage,” Camkin said.
A security guard was quickly sent to extract her from the cage but she was on the inside and grabbing at the bars, refusing to come out. Time for Camkin to step in.
“It was the last five minutes, I was in the cage with this girl and trying to get her out with the security guard,” he said.
“There were 1450 people in this joint, they’re not watching the band anymore, all eyes are on me and the security guard trying to get this girl out. That was fun.”
The quickest sell-out show from the past 16 years has been dance duo Peking Duk, when tickets were snapped up in a day-and-a-half.
“One interesting one is Neverending ‘80s ... they sold out December last year, they sold out June this year three months in advance and they’re third show in December coming up will be a sell out,” the booking agent said.
“They’re a concept band, they’re not even an original artist … I don’t understand it. Eighty percent of the audience is women in fluro gear and dressed up.”
Camkin loves the diversity Waves offers with rap artists in there one night and death metal acts the next.
He also acknowledges he has competition from venues like the UniBar and Rad Bar but said they’re all in it for the greater good of keeping the music scene alive.
Camkin was hooked on live music after his first ever concert in 1981 at Hurstville Civic Centre. The Radiators were playing at the Blue Light Disco and it was brilliant.
He’s never played an instrument but has always been a passionate supporter from the stands.
“A lot of booking agents do it after being musicians,” he said.
“Where I’m just here for the passion of doing it – it’s a little bit of pocket money but I’m not doing it for money, I’ve got pubs to run for that.”
Behind The Curtains will continue next Wednesday.