Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
Grace Potter possesses one of the most commanding voices of any singer on the festival circuit. The multi-instrumentalist formed Grace Potter and the Nocturnals in 2002 while attending St. Lawrence University. Soon the Vermont-based act was logging 200 shows a year even before a proper record was released. The band's style has been described as "a modern-day version of Tina Turner stroking the microphone in a spangled mini-dress while fronting the Rolling Stones circa 'Sticky Fingers.'" In other media, the Nocturnals can be heard performing Jefferson Airplane's “"White Rabbit" on the companion soundtrack for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." And Potter wrote and performed "Something That I Want," the end credits track on Disney's animated hit "Tangled."
"We've been touring for I would say realistically -- nationally -- about six or seven years. And when we were just getting started, I have not just a worst gig but a worst tour. It's all connected.
"We were asked to go on tour with a huge star. Our booking agent was like, 'Well, what you're going to be doing is playing (as) the second-stage band. This particular star wants to have a very festivally vibe wherever he tours. So you'll be the band that's by the beer tent the whole time.'
"We were like, 'Oh, that's so great. We're on tour with so and so. This is going to be killer.'
"I think it was three months over the course of a summer. We just sort of picked up in major cities -- we're going from arena to arena. We'd look at our schedule, and it was like, 'Oh my God, it's the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre here, and the Nissan Center there, and the casino over here. This is gonna be great.'
"So we get there on the first day, and not only are we not in the beer tent area, we're actually in the parking lot. And the stage had no mic booms. It was meant to be we were gonna bring our own sound, I guess. Nothing was really advanced. So every single place we went we thought, 'Okay, so cool. We'll have our backstage passes, so at least we'll be able to go backstage.'
"Well, we found out the first day that not only were we not allowed backstage, we weren't allowed to park where the normal fans were allowed to park. We had to park offsite and walk our stuff on. So we were allowed to come in, pull up, unload our gear but then park our car offsite because we 'didn't want to get in the way of the fans.' So we'd have this mile walk between wherever the stage was, and we were supposed to bring our own sound.
"We fixed that problem, luckily, and by the end of the first day, at least there were mic booms onstage.
"And then there was the infamous Red Rocks. Three nights at Red Rocks (in Colorado), which was unbelievable. Finally, we got the invitation to go backstage after touring with this guy for several months. ... We were starving and poor, and they said, 'Sure, come get some catering or whatever.'
"So I got catering not just for me but the whole band because not everybody was allowed backstage; it was just me. So I come out of the catering area with every piece of food I could get. After three months of touring I felt like I earned this food, right? So I'm walking with all this food in my hands. I've got plate after plate after plate of lamb and all this good stuff. 'Wow, we haven't eaten this well in a long time.'
"I feed the band. Everybody's happy. It's the end of the night. The third night at Red Rocks. Of course, we weren't at Red Rocks on the main stage. We were up in a little baby tent somewhere. Then we continued on our tour. About a week later I got a phone call from my booking agent saying, 'Yeah, about that catering you took. I just got a $350 bill ...'
"It was just one thing after another. And every once in a while I tried to zip backstage and grab a shower. Sometimes I would sneak in. But one time the big star was walking down the hallway. So all this security locked down the hallway. They're like, 'We've got a bogey!' And I was the bogey ... because I was in the shower.
"So there's a security guard standing in front of the door not letting me out. I'm in a towel trying to get back out to my bus. ... I'm dripping wet. I don't have my hairdryer or anything with me because they said I could only be in there for like five minutes. So I'm hiding behind a door and there's a security guard literally telling me that I can't go anywhere.
"I said, 'Can I at least get out of the bathroom and get my clothing, which is in that other room?'
"I go into the other room, and the room is the catering area.
"I'm like, 'Oh sweet. Food.'
And the security guard goes, 'DON'T EAT ANYTHING!'
"It's like everywhere we went, we weren't supposed to be. It was three months of getting over red tape that we didn't even really want to get over. It was really humiliating, but it was also one of those moments where, 'The rock gods are testing us. They're asking us if we really want to be here.'"
— Grace Potter, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals