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Pitch In!
Lend a hand to help your band
(page 3)

(Continued from page 2)

  1. Tag it! With a personal labeler or a piece of masking tape and a permanent marker, identify your gear. Since XLR mic cables and DMX lighting cables look identical to your helper, the label tells them which one goes in which pile. Put your name on your stuff so your helper doesn't accidentally give away your stuff to a fellow bandmate. If you're separating stage left and stage right, or front of house and monitor gear, the label can greatly speed up setup and take down.

  2. Pack logically. Another logistical tip is to pack items together by either function or location. You decide which is best. If you have one setup on stage, and another for the sound technician desk, then it makes sense to have one or more storage containers for each location. Or you may decide that storing by function is better. Store all the XLR mic cables in a tub labeled "XLR Cables," regardless of where the cable will be used. Whichever method you use, pass it on to your helper(s) so your cables and gear get in the proper container for next time.

    Personally, I use the function method, since I have containers for my guitar rig, keyboard rig, and several for stage lighting. When I use a talkbox, the small talkbox amp, the A/B switch pedal, talkbox unit with tube, AC extension, and all audio connection cables are stored in a separate "Talkbox" container. If a particular gig doesn't require the talkbox, then I leave that container at the studio.

  3. Practice makes perfect. The more often you pack and unpack, the more efficient you'll be. Both at packing, and at setting up and tearing down. That's why I like doing a free show or two after a band has been on hiatus. It gets the kinks out and gives everyone an opportunity to test their packing and unpacking skills. Did they leave something behind? Did they pack too much gear? Did they take too long to set up because they didn't have a plan? You may discover that with a little more planning and preparation before the gig, you won't need as much help as you thought after the show.

  4. Get there early. If you know that you need extra time to set up because of all your gear, try arriving as early as you can. True, this means you won't always have load-in and setup help, but it can take away pressure before the show.

  5. Start without me. I've been in bands where one member (usually the guitarist) would arrive literally minutes before curtain time, which forced the band to start late. The cure to that was to start the show without him. That fixed the situation in a hurry. Lucky for us, it wasn't the drummer who was late. In some performance contracts, the band can be fined or forfeit the right to perform if the show doesn't start on time. That's a case where everyone in the group should chip in and help the late comer for the good of the band. But if the situation continues, it's time for a band meeting!

Matt, I hope some of these tips and suggestions can help. I wish I'd known about them back when I was getting started with live music. I realize now that someone was carrying more of the load than they should have in the early days, and that I could have made their job easier.

Being in a band is like any other relationship. It takes work. And experience. And a little luck!

Enjoy, my friend.


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