If you were to name any specific role that goes into putting on a concert or show, Brian Stovall has probably done it or is planning on doing it. Currently the Assistant GM at Allen Event Center in Dallas, Brian got his start in events by working tech in his high school and college theaters, and got experience in operations by working at a water park during his summers in college.
“The water park had over 500 lifeguards and at it’s peak season saw 20,000 or so in attendance. It was there I learned most about guest services, the guest experience, teamwork, crowd control and emergency response,” Brian told Amplify.
After college, he had 5 years of theater and 9 years of water park experience. He eventually moved to San Diego to join the team at Watermark Water Park (now Aquatica). However, he was drawn back to events and started a job at Coor’s Amphitheater (now Sleep Train Amphitheater) in 1998. Though he’s worked mainly in operations, he has been able to use his theater tech experience and other skills to get the job done.
“I’m a big believer in cross training, and I had a rudimentary background in a variety of settings,” Brian said. “I had some really great bosses when I was young, and they drilled into me to see the big picture of the operation while paying attention to my specific area.”
This philosophy led him to work operations events all over the country, including House of Blues in Las Vegas and Frank Erwin Center at The University of Texas in Austin. Brian was also involved in starting a non-profit called the Austin Music Foundation (AMF), which supports Austin musicians and businesses.
“I’ve been lucky to have worked with some really great people, and creating the guest experience never gets old,” Brian said.
Like any person in this industry, Brian loves show and gets pumped about seeing the excitement of fans. Read about Brian’s amazing concert experiences below.
Spice Girls in San Diego, 1998
I originally went to San Diego to be a part of the team that opened a water park, but found myself drawn to working in live events. When Universal/MCA concerts built the (then) Coors Amphitheater next door to the water park, I was at the site all the time. I developed a friendship with a guy I thought was the GC, but never really asked what he did. He invited me to the inaugural event, a sold-out Spice Girls show, as his guest. During the show we went to catering backstage and he asked for my resume. I told him I was flattered, but wanted to work more in the concert/event side than in the construction side. He was a Senior VP with Universal. I excused myself, jogged across the parking lot to my office at the water park and printed my resume. Two weeks later, I was in LA at the Beverly Hills Hotel being interviewed and landed a job as an operations manager with Universal.
Bob Dylan in Austin, 2002
I was working as a production assistant for the show when we got word that not only Bob would be playing the Grammys. We had to try to find a charter jet and a truck to load an abbreviated set and instruments to transport to the awards. I remember as soon as the show was over I was backing up a U-Haul to the loading bay, when it occurred to me as I was driving that I was carrying a lot of Bob Dylan’s guitars and other instruments. It was a bit surreal. This was Bob Dylan! I must have been driving slowly because the tour manager called twice while I was in route wondering where I was.
Various Artists in Iraq, 2004
I had the privilege to go to Iraq as a sound engineer for a group of artists that would be performing for the troops. We performed shows in several places in Kuwait, Iraq and Djibouti. It was truly inspiring to play in front of the troops, and is an experience I’ll never forget. Our tour transport was C-130s and Blackhawk helicopters. We played most shows outdoors and on makeshift stages, but every show was magical. We stayed in Saddam’s palace compound on one leg of the tour. It was a tough tour with ultra hot temperatures (at one point I was using blocks of ice and box fans to cool my amps) but totally worth it. Shout out and a big thanks to Judy Seale with Stars for Stripes and Bridget Bauer with TMG for giving me that opportunity.
Buddy Guy in Las Vegas, 2005
Working this show itself is memorable as I am a blues fan, but the night became very interesting. A couple hours before the show, I got a call from BB King’s daughter asking if we had his suite available for that evening as her dad wanted to come to the show. We didn’t, but we made it available. We gave instructions for Mr. King’s driver to enter the production lot and escorted him to his suite. Shortly after Mr. King was settled, I got another call, just after doors, that Paul Stanley and his wife wanted to attend the show, but we literally didn’t have an available seat in the house. I then asked the guys at the FOH mix position if they could make a little room for me to put a couple of bar stools in their area for Paul and his wife. They didn’t mind at all. The show went off without incident and everyone had a great time.
Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney in Austin, 2013
These shows were memorable, not only for the shows themselves, but also because we did them back to back. I was at The Frank Erwin Center in Austin. We had Taylor’s show on May 21, then Paul McCartney on May 22. The Taylor Swift show was bringing 23 trucks and her show was sold out. The Paul McCartney date was the only one announced in Texas at the time. Two huge shows back to back. Load out for Taylor ended around 4am and the McCartney trucks were waiting in the loading dock ready for the in. We didn’t sleep for 3 days, but in the end had two very successful shows. I have to say, all the folks at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin are some of the most solid pros in the business.