We’ve all been there … the gig where everything goes wrong. We can’t stop the worst from happening but by following these few simple steps, we can be prepared for it. We, here at Seismic Audio, have gathered all our best tips for being making sure we that our gigs go smoothly. Hopefully, some of these can help you the next time you plan and execute a gig.
1. Bring More PA Than Needed
Things always change. If the band needs three vocal microphones then bring four, better yet, bring six. Even if you leave the extra gear on the trailer, you’ll have a source of backups for whatever may happen. Power amps, loudspeakers, cables, even your mixer …. all of these things are worth having extras for quick replacement or additional power when needed.
2. Inventory That Gear
Keep track of everything you bring to a gig. Write out a checklist of everything you are bringing to the show and check off each piece while loading up to travel to the gig. Check it all off again when you are taking it all back out of the venue. There is no substitute for this step. Too much can happen on the day of the show to distract you and cause you to forget or to lose that crucial piece of gear.
3. Find The Power
First step upon arriving at any new venue should be to identify all the power sources in the room and the fuse box of the building. Determine the amperage of the circuit breakers of the power you’ll be using and make sure not to go over it. Power amps and analog lighting can soak up all the headroom of an electrical circuit very quickly so be aware of that as you plan where you’ll draw power from for each piece of gear.
4. Test Everything
Give yourself enough time to get your PA assembled and fully tested before soundcheck. Make sure the soundcheck is early enough that you have time to test and troubleshoot again afterwards. We don’t always have control of the time we have available in a venue so bring extra help if you are on a short time schedule. Those extra sets of hands could make the difference.
5. Verify Your Frequencies
If you’ll be using wireless microphones, be sure to test that your broadcasting frequencies are clear. Be ready to switch to a corded microphone if they are not and your wireless system is not capable of multiple frequencies. In fact, keep those corded microphone backups ready no matter what. Wireless microphones are delicate and can be easily broken. They also rely on batteries. Either of those things can end a show quickly if you aren’t prepared.
6. Color Code Your Cables
When the house lights are down, it becomes very difficult to tell a microphone cable from a speaker cable or a lighting cable from an instrument cable. Use brightly colored pieces of tape to make quick identification easy. A matching piece of tape on the input and output the cable connects to will make things even easier. Easiest of all, using colored cables to make it very easy to tell what is what.
7. Label Everything
Use marking tape to label what is on every channel of your mixing board. Labeling the snake on stage is also a good idea. Labeling anything else you can think of will be something you won’t regret but may become very thankful for in the heat of the moment. If multiple bands or DJs or public speakers will be taking part in the event, then labeling the different fader positions for each can seriously help make changeovers quick and easy.
8. Write Everything Down
If you ever mix in the same venue or mix the same artist again, the notes you make at this gig can simplify the setup of the next one. As you build up a wealth of information on how you mixed for different place and different artists, you will find it becoming your most valuable resource for unfamiliar situations. Something you’ve done before will be the same and that will give you a starting point for even the most unfamiliar situations.
9. Teach Proper Microphone Technique and Stagecraft
Don’t assume that the lead singer of the band knows not to point his microphone at the monitor or to not swing it around by the cable. Definitely give non-musicians pointers on how to address a microphone and what not to do. Go a step further by quickly explaining about monitors and where the coverage areas on stage will be best. If you’re using an intricate lighting show, don’t be afraid to mark spots on stage where the performers should be standing.
10. Always Have Someone at the Soundboard
Even if they don’t know how to use a soundboard, having an assistant available to stand there while you are somewhere else will protect it from curious hands and well-meaning concert-goers. Club owners and venue management will usually get nervous seeing unattended mixing board while a performance is happening. Even better if your assistant does know how to work the equipment because two heads are always better than one.
Those are the best tips that we here at Seismic Audio could come up with. Do you have any other crucial ones? Let us know in the comments. Need help getting the right gear to be prepared for the worst? Give us a call at 877-347-6423 or visit or our website. We have live sound experts ready to help.