Under a warm blue sky brushed with white clouds, workers scurried around War Memorial Stadium on Friday afternoon, readying it for tonight’s visit from gutter-brawling rockers Guns N’ Roses.
The only sounds within the Little Rock stadium were the clangs of steel on steel, the beeping of forklifts and crew members erecting the towering 60-foot-tall main stage, complete with band risers, LED-lit staircases and three mammoth video screens.
Dale “Opie” Skjerseth, production manager for the band, stood in front of the in-progress stage and rattled off how War Memorial Stadium got from Thursday, when crews arrived in Little Rock, to today’s show. It’s all in the numbers: 15 tractor-trailers of production equipment; 15 tractor-trailers of steel to construct the stage; 100 touring crew members; another 100 local crew members; 4,500 chairs for the stadium field and “a lot of lights.”
It took 36 hours to erect the stage, and six hours to prep the production equipment.
“Nothing gets easier; people just want more stuff to bring with them,” Skjerseth said. “This show, the band has put their view into it, and we took it and ran with it and developed the show.”
The payoff will come this evening as the sun exits, the gloaming arrives and the stadium explodes with pyrotechnics, lights and the music of the rock musicians once deemed “the most dangerous band in the world.”
Skjerseth, 55, has worked with concert production since 1979, starting in small clubs and theaters in his home state of Minnesota. His first big tour was Van Halen’s 1984 Tour. He has since worked with AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and others, including Guns N’ Roses…
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