Rachel Behring Tells Rock Star Hospitality Stories and Explains her Love for Local Music
Ever been backstage at House of Blues Dallas? Rachel Behring painted the cool murals you see on the walls back there of some of rock and soul's legends. But hell, that's just her showing she loves where she works ... and who wouldn't? Behring spent a good stretch of time managing backstage at HOB, and is now music hall manager.
HOB has not only always been supportive of local talent (be it on a high-profile level or even with breaking DFW artists that they dig), but has a reputation for treating even their local up-and-comers with near-rockstar level of hospitality: good beer, fresh towels, stagehands to help them load in. As much of a headscratcher as that can be to local artists after living in a DIY world of clubs, once you meet behind-the-scenes music fans like Behring, you see where the good heart comes from.
What all do you do as music hall supervisor? What an absolutely cool gig to put on a business card.
It is not a typical job at all! Every night is completely different. I typically get to work three hours before door time -- I get in and set up the bars, develop drink specials and check with the tour/production for any security requests. My goal for each day is that by the time security and bar staff get in, I have all the tools lined up for them to have a successful night, ensuring guests' safety and the ability to communicate information to them. Once we roll doors, I basically run around the Music Hall with an earpiece in, answering any calls and doing my best to ensure guests have a great time. I want their experience to be a lasting one.
Before that, you were in charge of hospitality. HOB has a reputation for providing rock-star hospitality for its local acts as well. Thoughts?
I always did my best to take care of the artists, especially the locals. Actually, I preferred working the local bands, as they are typically much more grateful for any kind of hospitality. These guys are just trying to break even, hoping they'll make enough money to fill the gas tank and make it to the next show. They might even be able to grab breakfast burritos the next morning! The look on their faces when I'd hand them a menu for food was priceless. I was instantly their favorite person -- I topped it off by sticking a case of Shiner in the Green Room fridge.
How about hospitality for national acts? Unusual/amusing rider demands? Craziest things you've witnessed backstage?
Well, most national tours were pretty nice, but of course, there are bands with outrageous requests every now and then. Marilyn Manson had some stereotypical Green Room demands: M&M's, an entire wardrobe room -- which we didn't have available, so we had to move our Cambridge show (a 400-capacity room) to the restaurant. Method Man and Redman showed up right before doors, demanding more fried chicken than what we had. One of my first shows was working with Sonic Youth -- I had no idea what I was doing. I walked in the Green Room, the tour manager asked why the ToFurkey wasn't in the fridge, and I remember just stuttering and running out of the room to call my boss. But once I got the hang of it and realized rock stars are just people too, my job got so much easier.
I imagine you have some local music favorites. True? Elaborate as much as you care to. The more the better.
Absolutely! Some of my current local favorites include The O's, Somebody's Darling, and Quaker City Night Hawks. These guys are all super fun to see live. Each band put out a phenomenal album in the last year. The first time I heard The O's new song "Outlaw" on KXT, it was one of those moments where I started singing all the words to the song before even realizing who or what the song was.
But growing up you were more of a punk rock girl?
I was largely influenced by punk rock growing up. The Phuss and Here Holy Spain are two of my local favorites in the punk/rock and roll category.
I really dig Perdition. I'd love to see them get more exposure.
Perdition's video "Gatorade Punch" is awesome. Being originally from the 'burbs of Fort Worth/mid-cities area, I am extra proud of these kickass bands from Fort Worth popping up everywhere. I love how close the two cities are, yet so different in style -- they come together as a musical community. I love seeing flyers for shows with Fort Worth/Denton/Dallas bands playing together in each other's cities. That reminds me to not leave out the Denton scene. Between growing up in the mid cities, going to college in Denton and working in Dallas, I feel like I'm privileged to have experienced a taste of local music from around the metroplex.
Who else? You seem to have more on your mind. Feel free.
Also, Whiskey Folk Ramblers!! I'd say they were my first local love. I attended their shows religiously from around '06 to '09, and I still love to catch 'em when I'm not working shows. That's a band that makes you want to put your boots on and boogie! They also put out a fantastic new album this year. Some other favorites are Denton's Slobberbone, The American Fuse, and I can't forget the Toadies. They are some really nice dudes who have been around the scene a time or two.
Rachel with The O's.
So, how did you first end up interested in the music industry?
You could say I've been "interested" since the early '90s, though I never imagined I'd get the chance to work in the industry, especially full-time. About six years ago, an acquaintance who has since become a very close friend, left Gypsy Tea Room and began working at HOB when they opened. If you recall something called MySpace bulletins, I saw her post about hiring at HOB on there. After a couple of replies back and forth and an interview with the production manager, I found myself nervous as hell, starting my first day backstage at HOB.
Just like that! That's so cool! What a life changer, I bet.
It's funny because the guys I've been working with for six years now tease me at how shy and timid I used to be. The job definitely helped me be comfortable in my own skin and not be afraid to express myself. I always loved tattoos too, and being around so many musicians and artists with stunningly beautiful art on their bodies was just cool to see. As an artist myself, I was enamored by the different styles and colors. I began to drawing up ideas for tattoos, and at first, I was just drawing them because I liked the idea, but then I just wanted them on my body. Thankfully, I found an incredibly talented artist who works to turn my sketches into real-life tattoos.
Any memorable performances from DFW artists that stand out in your memory? HOB stage of course, but you may also list shows you might have attended at other venues.
My favorite memory of a local performance at HOB is the last two years of The Dallas Observer Music Awards. Seeing so many familiar faces coming together for one night to congratulate each other was really special. I remember the first year we hosted the awards, I wasn't working, so I was just hung out and drank the awards with my friends who had won, which was a bottle of Fireball Whiskey mounted on a wooden plaque.
Another memorable show was seeing the Burning Hotels open up for Bloc Party last year. A few years back, my friends in Smile Smile got to open up for Loretta Lynn. Outside of HOB, I had the pleasure of working with and seeing some of my favorite locals at Homegrown Fest this past weekend in Downtown Dallas. Polyphonic Spree's show never ceases in epic-ness. I'm also proud of John Solis and Joshua Florence for grabbing The Divine Fits, Britt Daniel of Spoon's new project.
I know a lot of folks who work at other venues in DFW step into the HOB and are a little awestruck with such a special room. What about you? Are there other venues around town that really grab you?
I have a strong affinity for the Granada Theater. Not only is it a historic and beautiful venue, but they promote local music like no other in Dallas. Granada is very good at pairing local openers with similar national acts. I absolutely love those guys. Another amazing room is the Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff. Although I have only gotten the opportunity to visit once, the venue is so intimate feels like you are nearly on stage with the artist. Jeff Liles is rocking it over there, and it's the perfect thing for the O.C.'s urban, yet up-and-coming, Deep Ellum feel. In Denton, I always enjoyed Dan's Silverleaf. Their back patio is stellar at night and the room has a great feel when walking in. It's been awhile since I've been up there, but I hear they have new venues and bars opening up in the downtown square area. I'm also looking forward to checking out the Live Oak in Fort Worth.
Do you play any instruments? Ever given it a shot?
I dabbled at the guitar for a bit in high school. Most recently, I purchased a violin and took lessons for about six months. I can play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" like no one's business! I played French horn for one semester in middle school. Let's just say I was really good at consecutively being last chair.
Ha ha. Is school where you first became interested in art and painting?
My main gig is art -- I like to think of the paintbrush as my instrument. I started making art as a kid, like most kids do, only it continued all the way into college. I stopped painting for a few years, but after meeting so many creative people in the music industry, was inspired to start creating again. Music and art make beautiful babies. The community has been so supportive that I've stayed busy making commissioned paintings for friends the last couple of years. I even got the chance to paint a musician's mural backstage at HOB. It's pretty cool to have made my mark on the place in that way, and to be able to say my art has been signed by Snoop Dogg himself.
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