SickthingsUK: Backstage Passes/Cameras

For The Record:

How does someone go about getting backstage passes?



There's no real answer to that. I used to wonder the same thing years ago when I used to be in the audience at Alice Cooper concerts. I'm still not sure of the answer. Some people seem to be naturally adept in getting themselves backstage (especially ones in mini skirts.) It's not impossible but I don't know of any exact way to get one. I guess that's why they are considered a valuable commodity. The first thing to realize is that having a backstage pass guarantees absolutely zero (except it is a nice souvenir). And even less of a guarantee to meet Alice. I have been at shows where backstage passes were distributed and then for whatever reason, it was decided not to have anyone get backstage. Backstage was "cancelled" for the night. Almost all of the time, a pass will only get you backstage after the show is over. Once you get backstage, you are usually herded into one of the extra dressing rooms with the other chosen few where you get to stand around and enjoy the left over catering of 3 warm Diet Cokes. A couple of band members might stop in, etc. Alice rarely makes it into this room.

At some point, a local security guard comes in, says "OK, folks, we're closing...gotta go." Pretty exciting, huh? The above is not being written facetiously. Once again, it depends on the situation. There are no particular set rules. Every concert is a different situation as far as backstage goes. There are some venues were the backstage facility is really small so passes are kept to a minimum. Other times, there are so many passes given out (like in Detroit, LA, or Phoenix) that it is really hard to give out any extra passes.

Anyway, I learned a lesson a long time ago to never make any promises in regards to passes because there are just too many variables involved. This isn't to say that I can't get passes, it's like I said before, there's just no cut and dry answer to that.
(Brian Nelson,, April 1996)

While Brian wrote the answer above over 20 years ago it's still pretty much correct. Nowadays there are generally three types of guest passes at most shows. The first is the VIP laminate passes you can simply buy for large amounts of money. These aren't true aftershow passes of course. They get you into a specific event backstage where you meet Alice, have your photo taken and then leave. They don't get you access to anything else.

The second type of pass is also often marked as a 'VIP' pass but is a cloth sticker with the date and possibly some other identification markings signifying who authorised you to have it. These are normally given to people who, time allowing, will actually get to meet Alice informally. They come from either management or sometimes on behalf of Alice himself. For example old friends, other band members who have come to say "hi", or even whoever Alice played golf with the morning. Depending what you are expecting these are probably the most sort after passes for obvious reasons. You'll be taken to a backstage 'holding area' where you can relax and chat while you wait for the paying VIPs to get their time with Alice. That can take a while, so don't expect to get out of the venue any time soon. If there's a lot of paying VIPs you could be there for a couple of hours. It can't be helped, these others have paid big bucks, you haven't.
After a while someone will come and take everyone with a VIP cloth pass to wherever Alice is set up, and he'll sign stuff for you, have photos taken etc. It's normally very relaxed and Alice is GREAT at making people feel welcome. You can ask him whatever you want and often listen in as he chats to old and new friends. Always remember you are a GUEST! Do as you are asked and follow instructions, it makes everything go a lot more smoothly for everyone.
One thing to note: You will possibly be asked to leave your phone or camera at the door, and pick it back up as you leave. This is a relatively new thing but has been implemented because so many people simply don't know how to use their own cameras, have flat batteries, or waste time deciding who will take a photo etc. Normally Alice's assistant Kyler Clark, a professional photographer, will take the photos for you, and you will be able to download them later to do with as you wish. Again, this is so that everything goes smoothly and everyone gets a reasonable chance to be with Alice.

The third type of after show pass is the band guest pass. They look the same as a VIP cloth passes but have different text to distinguish them. These are for friends of the band and normally will NOT get you in to meet Alice himself. It's not what they are for. They are for other guests to just hang out and possibly meet the band or other friends in the backstage team. As with the VIP passes you'll be taken to a 'holding room' to wait while the band freshen up after the show, and then they will out come to see you. This is the most informal situation of them all. Everyone just hangs out in the room and the band will wander around chatting to anyone who wants to say "hello".
It's not guaranteed all the band will come out, or even any of them, but in it's likely at least some will. If you've been given a band pass by a specific band member in all likelihood they will come and see you, as they know you're there. If, however, a specific musician hasn't given out any passes for a show they might not. Don't feel they don't care or don't want to meet you, there can be all sorts of reasons they don't come out - being overly tried, not in the mood, hungry, calls home to family - They are people like you so give them a break, they just finished work!
Whoever does come out will be more then happy to sign anything you want, take photos with you, answer questions you may have, or just chat. They are all friendly and appreciated their fans, so as long as you're polite you should have fun. At some point someone is likely to arrive and start pulling them back to the bus. Some nights they have more time to hang out then others depending on the schedule, ie if they are staying in town over night, or travelling straight to the next city after the show.

So, getting aftershow passes is basically down to who you know. If you have no personal connections to anyone it's unlikely you will get a pass. Don't expect a big party atmosphere that you sometimes see in films etc. It's generally pretty quiet and relaxed. If you do have a pass always remember you are a GUEST. Do as you're asked, be polite, go where you are sent, and NEVER go wandering around without an escort. That's the best way to get kicked out.

There are of course other passes around for crew and others working at the show, but the above are the main ones you will see. A fourth type is worth mentioning though: the 'photo pass'. These are given to the professional photographers you see crowded at the front at the start of the show. If you want a photo pass you should apply through official channels and have a good reason why you should have one, ie you work for a magazine, newspaper or similar organisation, or have professional credentials of some kind. They aren't generally for fans.
Normally a photo pass will get you into the 'photo pit' for the first 4-5 songs only (depending on how long the songs are), at which point you will be asked to leave. This is to prevent you standing in the way of the paying fans all night, obstructing their view. Certain photographers may be allowed to stay longer, especially ones who's work the Alice organisation regularly uses themselves, but generally they will try and be as unobtrusive as possible. Access for photographers to any part of the actual stage is extremely unlikely. Any photographers you may spot on stage are usually working directly for Alice.


Can I Use A Camera During the show?

Nowadays it's pretty much impossible to venue security to stop people taking photographs at shows. However the official line is as follows:

  • Yes, you can take photos.
  • No, you may NOT film the show.
  • Don't use flash. It's distracting, and generally useless anyway.
  • Simple hand held fixed lens cameras are fine.
  • Professional level changeable lens cameras are NOT allowed. This provides a simple dividing line between what is allowed and what isn't.

These are Alice Cooper's guidelines and are subject to being overruled by a specific venue.