Growing up, Jennie Perkins was constantly inundated with music from her mother. Perkins explains that her mother would play music from morning until night and drag her and her brother to all-day music events to her kids’ dismay.
“I would get so annoyed,” Perkins, now the General Manager of the Novo by Microsoft in Los Angeles, told Amplify. “Then she would drag me to Ziggy Marley concerts when I was twelve. I remember being so bored with my brother. We would be there all day and my mom would think it was great.”
Even though her mother’s music bothered her at the time, Perkins was just as obsessed with music since she was a child.
“At six years old I was calling into the radio station to request Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian.” I would put the cassette tapes together and hit start and stop and wait for my favorite songs to come on and put together a tape I could listen to,” Perkins said. “It has always been a part of the background of my life.”
Once she got her license at 16 years old, Perkins would hop into her Ford Escort and drive to any and every show she could that was five hours or less from her hometown in Ohio. She recalls driving to the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., Vic Theatre in Chicago, Pine Knob Music Theatre in Michigan, plus shows in Columbus, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
“If there was a show, I figured out a way to get to, I would. It would usually just be me and one other friend that was crazy enough and willing to go,” Perkins said. “There was no money for hotels or anything like that, but gas was $0.98 a gallon. So we would drive right back.”
She would work a part-time job all year round to pay for the concerts and found herself on both sides of the ticket queues.
“I camped out with friends overnight to get Metallica tickets when they played the Gund Arena in Cleveland. Same with the Beastie Boys. We would take shifts and camp out and it would probably be really cold, but we had to get our tickets,” Perkins said, adding that she also worked the ticket onsale counter at a record store in college.
“I remember watching a change over between bands at a festival and I thought ‘I want to do that. That looks amazing. How are they up there on stage right now? This is so cool,'” Perkins explained. “I had no idea at the time that this was something you could do with your life. I found my path into that.”
After working concessions at Blossom Music Center just to see free shows, Perkins went to college at University of California, Santa Barbara where she joined the program committee at a unique time. The nearby Santa Barbara Bowl was going through renovations and they needed a venue to put on a few shows.
“Moss Jacobs is a UCSB alumni, so he contacted the program board and said ‘I have these shows I want to do. Are you guys up for it?’ They had never done three shows in their event center in one year, much less in one quarter,” Perkins said. The three shows ended up being Incubus, 311, and Bob Dylan. “It was the scariest three months of my life. It was so beneficial to me and my life.”
Jacobs offered Perkins an internship with Nederlander Concerts after that quarter and she went on to work with the company at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles before moving to Goldenvoice to open Club Nokia (now Novo by Microsoft). Perkins began as a production manager with the building before it was even built and now serves as the General Manager of the 2,300-capacity theater. We caught up with Perkins to find out about five of the most influential shows she’s seen.
Lollapalooza in Charlotte, North Carolina
Sept. 4-5, 1994
This was the first concert that my mom let me go to on my own, so that was a historic moment on its own. My best friend and I went and spent the day watching our favorite bands that we knew from watching videos on MTV all night long that summer. Green Day opened the show at, like, 2pm or something and we were right there, front and center, singing along to all the songs from the Dookie record that had just come out that year. Beastie Boys had just released Ill Communication and Smashing Pumpkins were amazing. George Clinton headlined and I had no idea who he was (ha ha). It was hot, it was muddy, it was humid, and it was amazing. I still have the T-shirt.
Bjork at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles
Oct. 22, 2001
I was a DIE HARD Bjork fan through her first few albums and when I heard she was coming to Los Angeles, I was dying to go. But, I was in college. In Santa Barbara. And broke. So, not knowing any way to make it happen, I didn’t get tickets or make any plans to make the trek down to LA. I was on the UCSB program board at the time and every week we had recap meetings. When the meeting was over, a friend and I started talking about the show that night and how great it would have been to have been able to go. I think we egged each other on and finally decided at the last minute to ditch our last classes and drive to LA and see if there was any way we could get into the show. We sat through traffic second guessing our decision the entire way, paid through the nose to park somewhere and sat out front of the Dorothy Chandler asking everyone if they had tickets. All of the scalpers wanted 100s of dollars which we, of course, didn’t have. We were about to head back home with our tales between our legs when I spotted a woman who, for some reason, I just knew didn’t really feel like being there and I spontaneously asked her if she had any tickets that we could buy from her. She looked at us (I’m sure we looked quite pathetic) and told us that she actually had two tickets that her company wasn’t using and gave them to us for free. Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe it. Amazing seats, amazing show with Bjork and Matmos and the last time I’ve seen her show so pared down.
Prince at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, California
May 11-12, 2011
Need I say more?! I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to go to both Prince shows at The Troubadour. It was during his 21-show run in Los Angeles where he did a run of dates at The Forum (I’m pretty sure I went to at least two of those as well…). It was worth the waiting and standing and waiting some more. To be able to see Prince in such an intimate venue, simply playing good music was an incredible experience.
Beck at Club Nokia in Los Angeles
Nov. 9, 2008
This was the first show at my new job. Opening what was then Club Nokia was no small feat and during my first show as the production manager and the first show of the venue I was simultaneously ecstatic and terrified. At that time, L.A. Live was simply Staples Center, Microsoft Theatre, and us. There were no restaurants yet, no movie theater, no bowling alley, nothing. Just construction everywhere and us trying to operate a venue around it. I would go so far as to say that OUR venue was hardly complete at that point, but the show must go on. For the most part, those two nights are a blur but I do remember that I learned a LOT in those 48 hours. Working with such a stellar artist and amazing crew, they were remarkably understanding and worked with us while we figured out all of the stuff that we didn’t know in operating the building.
Desert Trip Music Festival in at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California
Oct. 7-9/14-16, 2016
One of the most challenging events I’ve ever worked on and one of best events I’ve ever worked on. Being a part of something that big and special will always be a highlight of my career. It’s a testament as to how amazing it was that so many people still talk about it today. I was a part of the team in charge of figuring out how to operate the temporary stadium that was built on the Indio Polo Fields. When I got the call asking if I would take on the job, my first thought was ‘oh my god, how is this going to work?!’ Luckily, I was able to partner up with my then boss, Mark Girton, and we worked for months figuring out what we needed to do to do the job well. Hundreds of ushers to hire (a good amount of whom had never even been to a concert in their lives), 50 plus managers from across the country to tackle specific tasks related to the seating area of the festival, numerous training sessions for something that had never been done, and continuous support from the amazing Goldenvoice Festivals staff and it all came together beautifully.