There’s a difference between a musician’s rider demand and a musician’s insane rider demand. Probably the most-mocked item in musical rider history was Van Halen’s request that all brown M&Ms be removed from bowls in their dressing room, but Eddie Van Halen has gone on to explain they used that as a canary in the set-rigging coal-mine. Their stage set required exact distances to be maintained so David Lee Roth wouldn’t fall to a lycra-bound death while attempting to fly through space to the tune of “Jump,” and if there were M&Ms in the bowl, it was a signal their rider hadn’t been followed. Fair enough.
But then there are stars who use riders as a way to remind themselves that they are Very Important People who can get what they want. Here are 5 musicians’ obnoxious concert demands.
Zooey Deschanel (of She and Him): No audience members allowed taking pictures or video
One gets the feeling Zooey Deschanel gets angry if you forget anything about her, but anyway, you might have forgotten that in addition to playing various Manic Pixie Dream Girls, she also launched a thousand cutesy hipsters with ukeleles with her band She & Him. Headlining a night at the Toronto Urban Roots Festival recently, Deschanel and her bandmate M. Ward had signs posted passive-aggressively demanding fans not use cell phones to take pictures but “instead enjoy the show they have put together in 3D.” But what were we supposed to look at to distract ourselves from it?
Marilyn Manson: A bald, toothless prostitute
For nearly 20 years, Manson (we still have to call him that, rather than his given name, which is Brian) has flogged his shock-shtick under the sad delusion that he’s up to some really transgressive business. Right down to his rider, which like everything else in his career is a desperate plea for someone to notice and acknowledge that Brian totally lives on the edge, man. Whether Brian or someone in his entourage has a thing for bald women with meth problems is entirely beside the point.
Motley Crüe: 12-foot boa constrictor, submachine gun
The question we’re left with is what, precisely, do the members of Motley Crüe intend to do with these things? They’re not going to shoot people, and hopefully they won’t shoot the poor snake, who really just wants to strangle a goat and lie digesting it on a hot rock (sadly unlike the rock produced by that band). So one can only assume they want to hang around, pointing a badass-looking gun at inanimate objects, while passing a snake back and forth, never letting it get into the kind of position in which it could actually begin properly constricting one of them — a sight no doubt more entertaining than a Motley Crüe concert.
Madonna: New toilet seats
Madonna is apparently unable to cope with the spiritual reality of slapping her ham down on the same plastic against which Chad Kroeger braced himself for a moment of truth the week before. For that reason, she doesn’t just demand the toilets be cleaned with the industrial solvents you’d need to wash out Nickelback, but wants entirely new seats. (How does she know they’re new? Does she demand the Home Depot receipt?) But after all, rider requests come out of the band’s pay. Which means Madonna, who’s likely not taking the seats with her, is slowly renovating the bathrooms of the world’s stadiums. One toilet at a time.
Beyonce: Red toilet paper
Much has been made of Beyonce’s demands for alkaline water, titanium straws, and crew wearing only cotton — all, we assume, for allergy reasons. Ok, that’ll do. No one wants her voice cracking during “Single Ladies.” But given that novelty toilet paper is usually the texture of heavy canvas, wouldn’t she prefer Charmin?