Behind the Scene

Abe Nielsen is the Santa Claus of rock. A Eugene, Ore., import that Seattle is lucky to have, he works hard day and night just to see the looks on kids' faces.

Job title, duties:

I work for Mike Thrasher Presents, an independent concert promoting company based in the Northwest. My job title is 'talent buyer,' which always feels funny for me to say because it feels like a step away from 'soul buyer.' I put on shows by negotiating deals with musicians and their agents, renting out venues to produce these shows, and essentially taking care of everything required to put on an awesome show. In the past month or so, we have produced some of your favorite shows at the Paramount, Chop Suey, El Corazon, the Showbox, the Crocodile, the Fenix, and Neumo's.

How did you get your start in the music (under)world?

1. Running in circles around the living room to my dad's Beach Boys and Stray Cats records when I was 5.

2. Buying DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and Dead Milkmen tapes when I was 11 with my paper-route money.

3. Seeing Nirvana when I was 17.

4. Getting the hell out of the high-tech industry and volunteering my way into a job at the WOW Hall in Eugene, Ore. WOW is an awesome nonprofit all-ages venue going strong for 31 years now!

What lured you to the Emerald City?

I moved here last year because my wife, Beth, had graduated from the University of Oregon and wanted to go to beauty school somewhere outside of Oregon. I had developed some great friendships with people who lived here, and I already liked Seattle and knew that I could really be anywhere with these people and be happy. Let me tell you, Behind the Scene, with these friends plus all of the new ones I have made, it's going better than I could have ever expected.

Craziest shows you've worked and why:

Back at the WOW Hall, we booked a show with AFI one minute before they started becoming huge. It was part of a small run, and we had people flying in from overseas, making insane offers for tickets (financial, chemical, sexual, etc.). The show was nuts, too. Himsa opened, and the Distillers were on the bill, too, and the crowd just went batshit crazy from the first note of the first band. That, or maybe GWAR in the same tiny little venue.

Best shows you've worked and why:

For me, Frank Black is the ultimate combination of talent, attitude, and ethics. There was also a band of Earth Liberation Front anarchist hippies I used to book to open a lot of shows, called Eat Shit, Fuckface, that would put on the craziest live sets I have ever seen; they would only last about 10 minutes, and that was almost too long.

Worst/weirdest fan you've had to deal with:

One claimed to be a prophet, attacked me with his wizard staff, and ended up biting a pretty good chunk out of my arm.

Most ridiculous band request:

The mayor's daughter's phone number. There was also a rapper who just wanted milk and cookies.

Shadiest tour manager:

Oh man, I really can't name names here—the shadiest was also the most famous by far. When I see him on TV and think about how he acted . . . gross.

Best part of your job:

When kids are leaving a show at the end of the night and they have that look that is a combination of complete exhilaration and exhaustion. And the free T-shirts.

When not promoting rock and Roll, you fill your time with:

Reading books and cooking meat. Currently focusing on Moby Dick and organ meats.

Your Top Five records to listen to:

While chillaxing: Bill Frisell, Ghost Town.

On your iPod: Slint, Spiderland.

On your record player: CCR, Green River.

While driving: Can, Tago Mago.

While getting ready for a night out: Andrew WK, I Get Wet. But I have to be careful with that one—it tends to get me into trouble.

Behind the Scene is a weekly peek at the Emerald City music world, shedding light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.

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