Photo Shawn Arrajj
The life of the traveling band member is probably one of the most glamorized careers out there, particularly when the musicians have made it big. But for all the glory and fame the big-timers get, there are still some things that can be hard for them to come by: namely, peace and privacy.
This is where Christina Martin, creator of the Backstage Artist Lounge, steps in. Martin took the concept of the backstage—where artists go between sets to try to take a breath—and turned it into a business.
The Backstage Artist Lounge—which was founded in 2007—came to The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion along with Buzzfest last weekend to provide its services for the bands in tow: Korn, Evanescence and Evans Blue, among others. Upon entering the Lounge it becomes clear that it's designed to stray away from the typical backstage atmosphere, that it seeks to create something more hospitable, cozy even.
“When you're touring as an artist, there are actually not a lot of places out there that give you that welcoming hospitality,” Martin said. “They seem to appreciate what we do. I think it's nice for them to see familiar faces every once in a while too.”
For Buzzfest, the Lounge was set up in a private zone backstage outside the dressing rooms and underneath a large tent. Tables were strewn with snacks and drinks, and couches and futons were readily available, but the Lounge went above the typical backstage experience by working with other local businesses.
One table featured several dozen cupcakes provided by the Houston-based cupcake company, Frosted Bakery. Each one was specially designed with the logos and likenesses of the bands at the show. Another table provided band members with traveling dental kits that included toothpaste, a toothbrush and floss, courtesy of The Woodlands Modern Dentistry & Orthodontics. Staff members from the local Ceron Salon were on site, ready to provide band members with anything from amino acid treatment to wild dye jobs.
“In every community there's the cool chic hair salon, the cool local designer. We do our research before every event and we try to get those people involved with what we're doing,” Martin said.
The area was surrounded by a ten-foot wood fence on three sides. The atmosphere was calm and relaxing, in stark contrast to the thundering and lunatic sounds of Buzzfest coming from the other side. Throughout the show, band members wandered in—sometimes with friends or dates, sometimes just on their own—and enjoyed the fleeting moments of relaxation where nothing was required of them. They were here to provide thousands of Houstonians the opportunity to go insane with their music, but in the Lounge everything was just cool and breezy. Alex Nauth from Foxy Shazam idly browsed through a rack of T-shirts while Fieldy, the bassist form Korn, added his signature to a the growing collection of names on a nearby futon.
According to Martin, her services are already in high demand. Several groups, including Godsmack and Three Days Grace, regularly request their presence on their tours.
“It gives us a real sense of pride in what we're doing,” Martin said. “We took something that was once considered an impossibility by most people and we're making it happen on a regular basis. You can tell how much some bands genuinely appreciate it.”
The Lounge, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee, travels to venues all around the United States and Canada. They work about 50 events each year, which, with a total staff of 20, is about as many as they can handle, according to Martin.
As the business continues to grow, Martin has plans to add more of a content creation dynamic by providing band interviews, videos and photos through social media, which also includes the creation of a promotional music video using a song written by Shaman's Harvest called “Backstage Artist Lounge Ya'll.”
“There is no limit to the scope that we can grow to be,” she said.