Occasionally you’ll read an article about the nutty stuff performers put in their riders. Performance riders are the part of a contract between a performer and the promoter who wants to hire the performer for a show that stipulates that the promoter needs to supply specific items for the performer backstage prior to the performance. Things like bottled water and food are pretty standard but some items get outright bizarre.
Probably the most famous weird rider demand is a bowl of M & M candies with all the brown ones removed. A single brown M & M will constitute a breech of contract from the part of the promoter. Multicolored candies with one specific color removed is a mild request compared to some of the ones that appear more and more frequently now days. Keep in mind that in Los Angeles or New York these rider demands are not impossible to supply but at some town in the midwest finding monochromatic sushi platters and extra Jolt Cola might prove very difficult. And that is exactly the point.
It’s not that the members of Van Halen had anything against brown candy but when a promoter fails to provide an item on a contract to which he’d agreed he is legally in breech of contract. No one cares unless the band’s lead singer develops laryngitis, the bass player overdoses or the suddenly spontaneously combusts in the bar the night before the show. If the band cannot, for whatever reason, perform the scheduled show they can be sued by the promoter. However, if the promoter is the one in breech of contract by not supplying alligator pate as stipulated in the rider, then the band is free to cancel the show, legally, and with no repercussions to them. Crazy rider items are simply an insurance policy for an act in case they screw up.