BYU students get 'school of rock' lesson from Bon Jovi

Published: Wednesday, March 23 2011 1:47 p.m. MDT

BYU students Nick Perucca, left, and Dan Reyes-Cairo get a behind-the-scenes look at the Bon Jovi concert setup prior to the show at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A group of BYU students had their own "school of rock" Tuesday.

Their classroom: The stage of one of the biggest bands in the world.

Twelve students from Brigham Young University, all with communication-related majors such as public relations, audio and film, received emails recently asking if they'd be interested in participating in the Bon Jovi Backstage Experience. The goal was to give college students the chance to take what they're learning in the classroom and see how it might develop into a career in rock ’n’ roll.

The band handing out these unique daylong "internships" — veteran rockers Bon Jovi, which had the top grossing tour in the world in 2010.

"You can teach about it, you can prepare as much as you possibly can for it, but when it comes down to it, you really just gotta do it and that's pretty unique here," said public relations major Nick Barnes.

The rare learning experience, he said, beats a day in the classroom, any day.

"This is way better. It's hands on experience. I mean, we're gaining the experience we really will be doing in the field. It's something that can't be done in the classroom."

Nearly all of the students involved said what amazed them most was the sheer scale of what it took to put on a production like Bon Jovi's show.

The Bon Jovi 2011 tour has a touring crew of 84 members and uses 16 semitrailers to haul the stage from show to show. The stage crew members were very accommodating in answering all of the students' questions and pointed out how Jon Bon Jovi likes using the latest and greatest video screens, lights and other stage equipment while on tour.

On their current tour, the stage Bon Jovi is using requires 3,923 feet of aluminum, 6,000 high strength magnets that lock the stage together, 7,000 bolts to hold the tracking video assembly together, 825 square feet of video screens and 500 miles of cable for power, lighting and audio equipment.

The center pieces of Bon Jovi's current tour are high definition screens called RoboScreens — 35,000 pounds and 350 square feet of the latest in video technology.

"I had no idea that kind of production went into a show like this," Barnes said.

"It's been amazing to see how much goes into a production this big," concurred public relations major Kimberly Orton. "There are so many people it depends on."

Brandon Farmer, a sound recording a music production student at BYU, listened closely as the head sound mixer talked about the challenges of making a venue like EnergySolutions Arena — filled with concrete and steel and made for loud sporting events — sound acoustically kind.

"It's just the opposite for what you want for good sound. It's everything you don't want," he said.

"Oh my goodness, just the capacity of what goes on for a show like this," Farmer said. "This is the biggest tour going on right now and for us to be able to work through it and see, I had no idea it was even this big."

Students arrived at EnergySolutions about noon, helped with the setup, then got to stay close to the stage for the first three songs of Bon Jovi's show.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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