Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
Geraldine Leibot has learned over the last few years that touring with artists such as DUCKWRTH, The Internet, Kari Faux, and others means being some form of an adult babysitter. Whether she was the assistant tour manager on The Internet’s “Hive Mind Tour” or putting a bed together for Kari every night on her “Help Wanted Tour,” she makes sure the artist gets what they want, no matter the degree of possibility. Such was the case when The Internet wanted to celebrate their founding member Matt Martian’s birthday with some Atlanta fast-food 15 minutes before the store was about to close for the night.
“I had to pay off the people at Zaxby’s. I had to Cash app the manager who said they would split the money between the cooks,” Leibot revealed to REVOLT TV. “I was walking with the food and I was thinking, ‘I really finessed a catered meal for 20 people in 10 minutes at a restaurant.’”
In this installment of ‘Tour Tales, Leibot explains what she learned from D’Angelo and The Roots’ tour manager, the lengths she’s gone to give the artist what they want, and more. Read below.
What was your first touring experience?
My first touring experience was with DUCKWRTH. This was in 2017 and he was opening up for this Indonesian hip hop artist whose name was Rich Chigga back then. He’s signed to 88 Rising and his name’s Rich Brian. I was doing merch and helping the touring manager. I didn’t go on the road with The Internet until 10 months after that. DUCKWRTH is fantastic. He’s naturally a creative. He has a creative vision, but he’s just a creative. It was the first time I realized I have to just support the creative people.
Creative people are not always the most organized or on time. This really is a service job. That was the first time I realized that. He’s great. He makes great music. But, the basic stuff like getting up on time, getting to places and soundcheck is not innate to people who are creative at times (laughs). That’s where I come in. I have no time being support. It was cool.
A lot of being support on a tour involves knowing the artist and not just knowing how to get things done logistically.
Yeah. I’m an adult babysitter. The term ‘babysitter’ carries a certain connotation to it, but I’m an adult babysitter and I love it (laughs). People need support. When you’re in the limelight doing something that extracts so much energy, having someone tell you, ‘Hey, we’re going on at this time. We’re checking into this hotel at this time. We have soundcheck at this time,’ are the small things nobody pays attention to, but are important for an artist.
What was a moment on tour when being an adult babysitter really came through in the clutch?
I was on tour with The Internet and we were in Atlanta. It was [around] Matt [Martin]’s birthday and we just finished playing Afropunk. We had gone back to our hotel to have a party for Matt and we worked everything out, but the food (laughs). It was 11:45 p.m. in Atlanta and we hadn’t figured out the food, but it’s my responsibility as the TM (tour manager) to get after-show food.
Someone yelled, ‘We want Zaxby’s.’ I was like, ‘Bruh, Zaxby’s closes in 15 minutes. How am I going to get a catered order for 17-20 people 15 minutes before a fast-food chain closes? So, I went to Zaxby’s with 10 minutes to spare and it was closed. I begged, begged, and I had to pay off the people at Zaxby’s (laughs). I had to Cash app the manager who said they would split the money between the cooks. It was this whole ordeal.
But, I got three chicken platters, toast, nibblers, and the party continued. I was walking with the food and I was thinking, ‘I really finessed a catered meal for 20 people in 10 minutes at a restaurant (laughs).’
How did you first connect with The Internet?
You have to always know the people who paved the way for you. I kind of got into the role because I was at Afropunk one day in 2016 high as shit, [and] waiting for The Internet to perform. I saw this black woman onstage and I was like, ‘Who’s this lady?’ She was fixing a mic on stage, random, but I had never seen a black woman onstage that was working production and not performing. I was fascinated, but I was also high as shit. Since I was so wowed by her, I remembered her face and she came up on The Internet’s Instagram page. I looked on her Instagram and saw that she was a tour manager, and that was cool.
I saw that she not only tour managed The Internet, but she also tour managed The Roots, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, and Chris Rock. So, I kept doing my research on her and her name is Tina Farris. She’s been in the business for 30 years and has tour managed everybody and their momma. It took me a year and a half of emailing, messaging, showing up to shows I know she’s going to be at just to tell her, ‘I want to work with you.’ I was persistent. I went to SXSW, The Roots were having a show, and I waited at the backdoor until she came out and told her, ‘Hey, I want to work with you.’ I became fixated on her.
After a year and a half of harassing her, she was finally like, ‘Fuck it. Okay.’ So, I did Roots Picnic with her and another small event with The Roots. In October of last year, she was like, ‘The Internet is going on tour and they need someone to do merch.’ I had a job at MTV working in the talent department and that’s what moved me to L.A. I was about to leave my secure MTV job and not know what was going to happen after (laugh). But, I loved The Internet, quit my job and did merch for them for two months (laughs).
Tina Farris is a legend in the touring game. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from her?
To go above and beyond. We were in the middle of America and someone in the band wanted wine. In the state we were in, you couldn’t get wine past a certain time. She was like, ‘Look up a place to get alcohol.’ I did and told her, ‘They don’t sell alcohol past 11:00 p.m. here.’ I told the guy in the band and he was like, ‘It’s all good.’ Tina was like, ‘We need to find him a bottle of wine because even though he’s saying it’s OK, as a tour manager, this your work: Making the impossible possible.
She made it so the test was to find a bottle of wine in a state where you can’t buy alcohol after a certain time, so I got creative. So, I took a cab and went around the city to four different bars trying to get alcohol. I was asking them, ‘Can I buy a bottle off of your bar?’ After the fourth bar, we found out it as indeed impossible. After that, she was like, ‘Fine, you exhausted yourself, but that’s the job. You went above and beyond for your artist.’ Now, I do that for everyone.
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We are told we have to react different, play the game, you have an attitude , you can’t come at people like that, explain yourself so they can understand, he didn’t mean it like that, well you know how they are.... Here’s to all of the women everywhere who have to fight patriarchy all day long and keep smiling. Your challenge , should you choose to do it, is to live your truth, be dignified , never be disrespected and create a crazy “fuck you” smile that makes them wonder. Yup. Talking to you too! #teamdecades #sheisthemusic #support #knowyourpower #beingatourmanagerislike
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen from working merch for The Internet?
I was in Philadelphia for their show at The Fillmore and this guy came in, and was like, ‘I want two of everything.’ I was like, ‘What?’ He was like, ‘I really love the band. I’m going to pass these on to my kids.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, this is intense.’ This shirt is probably going to be my pajama shirt to bed and this man is passing this merch down to his kids. Also, a lot of artists have artist fan pages on social media and the admin of those pages has relationships with artists. I think it was for Ella Mai where we went to a show and I think Ella was like, ‘Oh, this is one of the people who run one of my fan pages. Give her one of everything’ (laughs).
When did you work with Ella?
This was under Tina Farris, as well. She sent me on the road with this other woman named Marshay Monet. That’s my booooo! She and I were sort of thrown into the ringer together to do Ella’s tour. I did Ella in February of this year. I did a month with her on ‘The Debut Tour,’ then went with The Internet in March to do the European leg of their tour. Then, I came back and did the second half of Ella’s U.S. tour.
Out of all the tours you’ve done, who has the most interesting rider?
I would have to say Umi, who I recently started working with and was convinced you could put marijuana on the rider (laughs). I thought it was so cute because it was her first tour and she was like, ‘Can I just put an eighth in my rider?’ I was like, ‘No. We’re not up there.’ The Internet’s rider is the cutest because these niggas really put everything from lights to razors to underwear on their rider.
What makes you good at your job?
I would say three things. One is compassion. I understand no matter how famous or big an artist is, they’re still humans who require human things. It’s hard to be a performer. I remember times when Sydney (from The Internet) would be like, ‘I don’t want to fucking perform today. I’m tired.’ What do you do? This is your job and fans require something of you. But, sometimes fans forget the performers are human.
The second thing is if somebody wants something to be done, I’ll try my very best to do it. I’ve done the impossible to get shit that my artists want. You just have to get it done. I’m a go-getter. The third thing is having people skills. I’m able to be personable. When I go to a show, where we don’t have our own personal engineers, front of house or monitors; I’m very intentional about going up to people and thanking them.
You’ve done a few festivals runs, as well, that’ve let you see how other teams work. Who were some of your favorites to learn from?
Festivals are a cool, [a] transparent way of seeing how people work. Chris Patterson is one and he’s an OG. I remember him when had just started doing Rapsody, and that was a year and a half ago. Now he’s working with everybody. Chris is a fantastic human being. The way that Chris teaches and his willingness to be like, ‘Come, let me teach you this so you can run with this,’ is beautiful. He puts people on. He’s the most selfless person. There’s another person, Jasmine Collier. She tour manages Kiana Lede and she’s a badass. She’s been with Kiana for a really long time and their team is really solid. It’s interesting to see how Jasmine has been able to do different things with Kiana outside of touring.
You also worked on Kari Faux’s ‘Help Wanted Tour.’ I spoke with her about the bed that was onstage. What was it like working on that stage production?
The bed was amazing. Putting on a show is so important. I hate when I go to a show, I paid north of $30, and I see anyone perform onstage without a single prop to a track. I could’ve listened to that at my house. That’s why I refuse to go pay to see DaBaby. With Kari, she had this vision of people coming to show and feeling like they’re in my room. I thought it was genius. Then, she was like, ‘OK, that means we’re going to have to bring a bed.’ I was like, ‘Sis, we’re in a sprinter driving across America. You want to bring a bed in a sprinter?’ It’s not just any old bed. It’s a Casper mattress. Them bitches are heavy as fuck. Every night her manager and I had to set that bed up.
The frame of the bed was from Urban Outfitters. It wasn’t difficult to put together every night. But, the shit was heavy. Every night we had to roll this mattress, put it in this sprinter, roll the mattress out. She did her thing and it looked beautiful. But, it was hard work.