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Inside the club, under the bright house lights, the space buzzes with staff and talent setting up ticketing, sound, lights, and the bar. Trombone Shorty soundchecks on time at 7:45 p.m. The day started with Scott checking his BlackBerry in bed and will continue late into the night. He handles it with lots of coffee, he said.
In all seriousness, Scott says promoting is a 24-7 lifestyle. "You put the music first, and the fun comes later." Now thirty and married, with a one-year-old girl, Scott said the personal highlights have been matched by his success in the Bay Area. After growing up in Virginia, Scott moved to the Bay Area in 1997. "I wanted to promote concerts," he said. "This is where Bill Graham did it and I thought that would be a good place to do it ... naively."
Along with several partners, Scott's Mystery Machine promotions booked Sound Tribe Sector 9 and the Black Eyed Peas into the Independent's building back when it was the Justice League. When that club folded, Scott and his peers made a bid for the place. Perloff called him out of the blue and proposed that the two companies go in together.
Scott jumped at the opportunity. "I think there's, number one, a core appreciation of music and live concerts, and two, I could learn so much from him and Sherry," he said. "Before, I was making it up as I went along and I'd burn myself. Here, they can say, 'The stove is hot; don't touch it.'"
With Perloff's help, Scott and his partners navigated the city's notoriously slow planning department and other bureaucracies. They moved the club's bar to the back, and added new sound, lighting, backstage, office, and egress. The Indy also road-tested Another Planet's customer-service ethos.
"I really want a warm and welcoming place with nice security, no bartenders with attitude, people that want to work here and like the music that's here and welcome the patrons in," Scott said. "It seems like an easy philosophy, but it's not. It's the exception rather than a rule in a lot of places."
Shows rarely cost more than $20, and the Indy books everything from punk to funk to folk and movie nights. "We just don't want to be pigeonholed," Scott added. "We want every member of the audience to feel like, 'This is our home.'"
The Indy books 220 of Another Planet's 400 annual shows, and sells out enough of them to make the middle of the pack in Pollstar magazine's top fifty US venues by ticket sales every year.
Scott also got to book bigger and bigger shows and learn the Bill Graham touch, said Johanna Vater, former head of Another Planet marketing. Vater recalled that she saw the change at a rare, intimate Nine Inch Nails show at UC Davis in 2005.
During a routine security meeting, Scott heard about a rabid NIN fan who had waited for three days to be the first in line for the show. Every night, campus police followed school policy and ejected him for sleeping. "Every morning, he would be the first one back," Vater said. "Doors were at 6 p.m. and Allen said, 'I want you to open doors at 5:55, and let that kid have any seat in the house.' And that's when I knew, Gregg had got to him. Every individual is taken care of."
On a recent evening backstage at the Greek Theatre, Another Planet tried to make the road feel like home. The 103-year-old Berkeley venue felt like a garden party at the home of William Randolph Hearst. Chinese lamps and candles illuminated low-hanging eucalyptus trees, a stocked bar, and the Greek's personal chef. The manager of Mötley Crüe enjoyed some fresh guacamole with the lighting man for Daft Punk and Kanye West, although neither of those acts was performing that night. Mary Conde of Another Planet reclined in a plush, velvet-covered couch, half-listening to a walkie-talkie as she talked about the 16th-century stone relief decorating the stairwell to the dressing room occupied by the Stone Temple Pilots. Nearby, a framed lithograph of a busty, female nude bordered by words "Stone Temple Pilots, July 25, 2008, the Greek Theatre" immortalized the evening.
The Greek is Perloff's old stomping ground and Another Planet's de facto summer clubhouse. Because Perloff and Wasserman value multitaskers, their employees work "the front and the back," the office and the shows, to get a feel for what everyone else does. Everyone agrees that this prevents cliques.
In 2003, UC Berkeley put the management of the facility up for bid and in 2004 Another Planet won it away from Clear Channel by promising some TLC. But before Perloff and company could turn the Greek into a jewel, they needed a roof. The aging facility's stage lacked a proper roof, and without one, bands with expensive lighting equipment had no place to hang their lights. "It was all ground-stack and scaffolding," Conde recalled.
The new stage roof unlocked the option for top-tier acts. Conde and crew then juiced up the aging venue with extra power, gave the backstage a chic makeover, and went hard-core green with compostables, recycling, and carbon offsets. The rehab helped spread the word around the industry that Another Planet was special.
In 2007, the company took a risk and booked the French techno duo Daft Punk. "We didn't know if it would sell," Perloff said. But the "youngies" like Scott thought the company and Daft Punk shared the same crowd-first ethic. "We had heard that they didn't make any money; that they had plowed it all back into their light show," said Scott's colleague Bryan Duquette. "When we saw them at Coachella, we just knew."
Ten years after rave culture had choked and died on its own glowstick, the Berkeley hills shuddered under the weight of 9,000 people moving in freaky unison to "Around the World." Mike Lieberman, a one-time Another Planet intern, said the 2007 show transcended entertainment, and entered that rarefied realm of a genuine happening. "Whenever I wear my Daft Punk shirt from the show, people stop me in the street and ask if I was there," Lieberman said. "Everyone knows that show was legendary."
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