This is about music and some things I learned doing my job in college as a security guy <for a company called Contemporary Security who I have nothing bad to say about> walking around in a cool yellow tshirt that said “SECURITY” on it telling people what to do at concerts and sporting events and trying to only get into altercations I knew I could win.

To be clear. I loved this job and enjoyed the guys I worked for and with. Good organization and, in general, good culture and fellow employees.

In addition.

On a professional “acquiring skills for later” level I learned a lot at this job; some basics that if I had not paid attention to would have represented missed opportunities for learning. I learned shit i have applied in business to this day. I have shared a number of these learnings from this job.

Anyway. I hadn’t thought about this job in quite some time. And then I saw that Steve Perry <ex-lead singer Journey> performed in NYC for the first time in a long time. it reminded me of one of the best moments that you don’t see at a concert.

In the good ole days there were things called stadium concerts. These were day long concerts where a full lineup of great bands would queue up and play one after another and the best of the best would end the day.

Ok. They still have these. But now they are events <like Bonnarroo or Glastonbury> when, in the way back machine, pretty much every big stadium in America had these events.

The one I remember was in the Los Angeles Coliseum and Journey headlined <I think there was also The Babys – with John Waite and Johnathon Cain … who had not joined Journey yet, Aerosmith, The Motels and a couple other bands I cannot remember at the moment>.

Because I didn’t have anything else to do that day I volunteered to work the sound check the day before the concert as they set up the stadium <yes … they set up things the day before so that as the gates opened up on show day at some ungodly early hour the bands only needed to have their ‘set up’ put in place as they entered stage>.

On that day each of the bands just strolled in and did what they do to warm up and make sure the sound system was set up the way they liked it. And each band does it their own way.

That day I was standing at the sound system which was set up maybe a third of the way back in the stadium directly in the center of the field in front of the stage. A mass of confusing boards and little blinking lights and knobs and such all managed by maybe two guys chugging black coffee like they had been in a desert for three days and who looked like they should be in a homeless shelter.

Random people walked around the stadium and my job was to make sure any of the random people who did not actually belong near the million dollar valued sound system didn’t accidentally come by and twist a knob or something.

After Cheap Trick had rolled thru their sound check (a separately amazing experience), it was Journey’s turn to tune up and do sound mr magoo 1956

Please remember.

I am old.

This was before they had wireless mikes so everyone was wired up and was limited by how far a cord could go and their ability to not get tangled up in their cord.

Neil Schon and the drummer just kind of got things started.

And if you haven’t seen musicians playing nothing, and everything at the same time, you haven’t seen and heard music at its best. It just this rambling incohesive brilliant musicianship.


And then Steve Perry wanders on stage in jeans and a tshirt holding a mike just watching the other guys play.

perry and schonAnd without saying anything all of a sudden the band eases into a song almost one by one, but all together, and Steve Perry casually eases in with vocals in his distinctive clear voice.

It’s the kind of thing that is so stunningly easily beautiful that you just have to stop whatever it is you are doing and stare.

Time kinds of stops.

You are in the middle of a stadium and while people are still moving and there are the regular noises of people doing what hey need to do … and yet … there is nothing else but the music.

To be clear. Even people who are used to this recognize special moments.

People around me stopped.

Even the sound guys, who you knew had heard his dozens of time, stood still for a moment as it all synced up on stage.

The moment passed, but the band seemed to shift seamlessly from one song to another and on occasion stopping to tune something or just talk amongst each other.

They had been doing this for a while and, me being me, had stopped paying attention and was kind of mindlessly listening. And all of a sudden something felt different about the music and I started paying attention. The music sounded different.

I turned around and Steve Perry was standing maybe 10 feet away from me facing the stage … singing. perry singing

Now, remember, this was before wireless microphones. He had been wired up to walk all the way from the stage, maybe a 1/3rd of the way into the stadium, walk with his microphone to the sound system, and hear what it sounded like from the audience perspective.

I don’t remember the song. I wish I did.

I do remember a nonchalant Steve Perry, his voice crystal clear, pitch perfect, watching as the rest of the band clustered on stage watching each other work their way thru the song. I remember Steve Perry stopping and watching as Neil Schon effortlessly worked his way thru a solo and then seamlessly picking back up with vocals as Neil slid out of the solo and back into the song.

I remember Steve Perry looking over at me <ok … maybe he was looking at the guys in front of all the knobs and boards> and smiling, as he sung, and give a thumbs up because he liked what he was hearing.

Look. With my CSC security job I saw a lot of shit that most people do not see at a concert, but this was a special moment. Watching professionals be professional and doing the little things like switching some perspective to get a sense for the grander experience, well, you can learn a lot of you pay attention.

I am sure warming up and sound checks created great moments that most people never see all the time.

To me this was just another little glimpse into what makes great bands and great musicians great.


Professional learning? Beyond the obvious practice & rehearsal <for the musicians and the ‘support for the presenters’… perspective.



How often in business do we fall into our own little groove and fall into sync with the people around us and … well … we think all is good. We think it is good because it feels good. Perry stepped out of the onstage groove and got perspective. He wanted to see what the people saw and heard. He wanted to hear what the sound guys heard.

comfort zoneOh.

And he took himself out of what I would perceive is a good comfort zone. All by himself, away from the others he is most likely in subconscious sync with on stage, he sings … they play. He … well … disconnected from the comfort zone in a way.

That, my friends, is stepping out of the comfort zone for perspective.

I stored that learning away in my ‘future professional thoughts to to remember’ in my pea like brain.

I still use it today. Even when things are going right … and they feel right … and maybe even because they are feeling right, I like to figure out a way to gain some perspective.

And, frankly, we all need perspective.


To end this. I wanted to share a clip of what this behind the scenes looks and sounds like from the good ole Journey days, but I couldn’t find one of Journey.

So I thought I would share this fabulous clip of Stevie Ray Vaughn during a sound check. I was fortunate enough to see Stevie play maybe three times before he passed away.


This is a reminder of how good these musicians really are. Those were the days … a roadie in the 70s.


“Stevie just waking up then warming up. Insane how good can you really be that tired? This was filmed Jan 1986 by Greg Savage of Savage Guitar Design.

How can that guy just walk up, plug in and play like he’s been playing all day long? The man was a natural.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Sound Check


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Written by Bruce