By Joshua Erickson
VANCOUVER — They are the people behind the scenes, the ones you don’t see, but they are making the show happen just as much as the performers are: stagehands. Lighting and sound techs are an essential part of the live show experience and while they don’t get the applause, they get to experience live music in a different capacity than the rest of us. One of these people is Kyle Haack, who you might recognize due to his facial Hair. Or, perhaps, you recognize him from his gigs working as a freelance sound tech/ lighting guy/ stagehand for the likes of Roger Waters, Fleetwood Mac, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Nick Cave, Dwight Yoakam, Black Sabbath, Mogwai, and more. He was also supposed to work on the two ill-fated Kanye West shows back in 2013, but don’t feel too bad for him, he still got paid.
Haack is also the man behind Snail Productions. If you have attended a local gig in the past three years, it is very likely you attended a gig put on by Haack. His love of the local music scene is legendary and to celebrate, he is throwing Snail Fest, a multi-day, multi-venue festival happening around Vancouver at the end of August. We have some fine talent in this city and Haack is a man who sees it.
BeatRoute: What does a freelance sound tech/ lighting tech/ stagehand do, exactly?
Kyle Haack: What he/she is told to do generally. Obviously it depends on the gig, but for your average concert you are generally there as a set of strong hands and generally only for load in, set up, strike, and load out.
BR: Who is your dream artist to do sound/ lighting for?
KH: James Brown! I have a very deep spiritual connection to that man and his music. But, since that’s impossible, I would have to say King Crimson, Joan Jett, or DEVO.
BR: What has been your most memorable interaction with an artist so far?
KH: Back when I was a private chef (not yet a stage hand) for a billionaire. One of his guests was none other than Quincy Jones! One of the days while he was on my boss’s property, my boss was on a lengthy business call (pregnant mistress would be my guess) Q came and hung out in the kitchen for a couple hours with me. It was a pretty wonderful experience.
BR: You are obviously a guy who is very in to music, what inspired you to start your own production company and start putting on shows?
KH: Yes, just music itself and the wonderful scene of creative and talented folks we have here in Vancouver BC. Music is the best! It saved my sanity on far too many occasions to remember. It just made sense to me to pursue it as a career path however I could.
BR: How did the idea for Snail Fest come about?
KH: The idea for the fest kind of came to be on its own. I was initially just going to do a single show to celebrate my companies 3rd year of doing business. When it became clear that there was so much interest from bands and fans of too many bands and genres to do just one show… it kind of snowballed from there… And really I wouldn’t have dreamed of putting on something like this or dreamed of putting as much work into something like this if I didn’t truly believe in the people slugging it out in scene day in and day out, week to week! Bless you all lets make this thing happen!
BR: Why the decision to feature all local bands and why is it important to put the spotlight on local bands in Vancouver?
KH: Because I think it’s very important for people to know what they have here, on any given night, for $5-$10. It’s pretty amazing, and I feel very fortunate to work with such wonderful folks on the regular! Bands, venues, and music lovers! It’s tough sometimes in this city to get any one excited about any one thing but when you do it is pure fucking magic! That’s why!
Snail Fest happens in multiple venues across the city from August 22-29. $20 for all shows pass $15 for all ages only pass. All shows pass gets you all 13 shows and the $15 pass gets you into the 5 all ages accessible shows.
Passes available at:
Underworld – 1043 Granville St.
Neptoon Records – 3561 Main St.
Red Cat Records – 4332 Main St.
Beatstreet Records – 439 W Hastings St.
Puff East Side – 1204 Commercial Dr.
and online at Ticketfly.