Stepping into the foggy air of the Aladdin Theater, a group of students pushed themselves into the wall of amplified sound. The drums were pounding, the guitars were jangling, the voices sweet and strong, but you couldn’t really understand what they were singing. Suddenly, words came through loud and clear over the speakers: “Could I get some more kick drum in my monitor, please?”
Students had the unique opportunity to see the sound check by the Shook Twins, a successful local band that tours all over the country and around the world. We sat quietly listening as they made adjustments to the sound system and watched as they tested their lighting effects, and we got some special insights into a how a concert is made successful before the audience even arrives.
The members band stopped playing and patiently answered any questions we could think of, and they sang a song just for us. They even let us get on stage with them to take a picture together.
Before we got into the concert hall we got to speak with other folks who work to put on shows: Frank Rinaldi, Ajai’s longtime friend and a concert promoter, described his job finding bands to play at different venues, and advertising concerts on social media and newspapers. Then the production manager at the Aladdin described her experiences as a young person putting on her own shows and realizing that she liked setting up concerts more than playing them, then turning that passion into a career; she talked a bit about how she works to make sure the shows at the Aladdin go smoothly.
All the gracious professionals emphasized how much they were willing to jump on any opportunity, to put themselves out there in order to get to work at jobs they love. They encouraged all the students to do the same.
After the show, students got to eat Pok Pok’s famous Ike’s Wings at the restaurant across the street. As we were relaxing and eating outside, the guitarist from the Shook Twins chatted amicably with interested students as he waited for his order. The evening sun was starting to go down as we finished our food; we licked our fingers and passed around napkins, and we knew were truly at the “cool kids’ table.”