This Man Knows His Plungers and His Pearl Jam

From the Warfield to the Showbox, Glen Rinzler keeps the show going.

Glen Rinzler is as much a Showbox fixture as the giant crystal chandeliers. After getting his start at San Francisco's legendary Warfield Theatre as a glorified head janitor reigning over its ancient plumbing system, he's gone on to rule this premier Seattle stage with an iron fist for nearly seven years—a walking testament to the fact that paying attention as a kid isn't always necessary to make it in the biz. Long hair and arena rock, however? As Jay-Z would say, so necessary.

What's your title, and what takes up your time at the Showbox?

My title is production and stage manager. My time is pretty well divided between preproduction stuff (lots of phone calls and e-mails with promoters and tour managers) and day-of-show stuff.

How did you get into the wild world of stage/production managing?

Not paying attention as a child and poor planning as an adult.

What was your first job in music?

First I was a volunteer usher at the Warfield Theatre, then I quickly became the "show maintenance supervisor" (a glorified name for head janitor). After a year or so of cleaning up after drunks and dealing with the Warfield's 70-year-old plumbing (bathrooms went out of order nightly), I moved on to the stage crew and retired from the glorious world of mopping up bathrooms.

What was the first show you attended

Embarrassingly enough, it was Three Dog Night and Uriah Heep at the Anaheim Convention Center. I believe it was 1971 and I was 12 years old.

Top three Showbox shows you've worked:

So many to choose from, but some that stand out are: Pearl Jam in 2002. It was really cool to see them in a small room. They are really great people to work with—band, crew, the whole organization. Henry Rollins and Chuck Morris with the Rollins Band playing only Black Flag songs in a benefit for the West Memphis Three (if you don't know about them, please go to And Paul Westerberg & His Only Friends. Honestly, I didn't think the show was that great, but it was just really cool for me to see [Westerberg], as I never got to see the Replacements.

What's the most frustrating situation you've had to troubleshoot during a show?

The most recent is when a woman poured her entire drink all over our front-of-house console (a little bit of electrical equipment which is essential to running a show and costs about $35,000). Actually, it was our sound engineers who really pulled it together and got the console back up and running, while I stood by with my fingers crossed. But I use this example so that I can mention that, in my opinion, we have the best audio engineers in Seattle, and they play a major role in how well our shows come off every night.

How long have you been growing your hair?

I've been growing it since junior-high school, with the exception of shaving my head in the '80s (it was a rehab thing, not a skinhead thing). I think my last trim was in the early '90s.

What was the first tattoo you got?

My first tattoo was an armband of Hebrew writing. I was in San Francisco—and, like most things I do, it seemed like a good idea "at the time." In retrospect, if I had it to do over, I probably wouldn't get tattoos.

What was your favorite band in high school?

I've always had pretty eclectic tastes in music, but if I had to pick a favorite in high school, I would say Led Zeppelin. Yeah, in the '70s, it was all about Jimmy Page and arena rock.

Top five records to listen to while ...

Waking up: Pete Townshend, Who Came First; or Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane, Rough Mix.

At work: I've been listening to Isaac Hayes, Black Moses; and the new Wilco, Sky Blue Sky.

Driving (when I borrow a car): I listen to NPR.

Hanging out around the house: I have over 200 gigs of music on my iTunes, so I usually just put it on shuffle.

Going to sleep: Something mellow. Lately it's been anything by Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs: Ohia.

A weekly peek behind the curtain of the Emerald City music world, Behind the Scene sheds light on folks you won't see onstage, but who make it all happen.

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