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Appropriate time to set up before a gig?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by expatmuso, May 17, 2019.

  1. expatmuso


    Sep 3, 2015
    I have a gig tomorrow with a cover band I recently joined. We'll be playing a medium sized bar, for no pay other than cheap beer, which I won't be drinking since I'll be driving. The show is scheduled to start at 10:30. The bar owner wants us to be there at 6:00, because the bar opens at 7:00. I haven't played many of these kinds of cover band in a bar type gigs so I was wondering if this is normal.

    It seems too early. I'm not crazy about having to kill four hours and also putting my car in a parking lot for that time. Any advice?
    Seanto, Mr_Moo, pjbassist and 2 others like this.
  2. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    That was his reason? I would think no more than 1.5 hours prior to show time... maybe he wants you to setup, soundcheck, then you're free to do whatever you want, until show time.

    Who actually spoke to the owner? Sounds like a possible communication breakdown, all around...

    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    Mr_Moo and expatmuso like this.
  3. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Sounds like he wants you there early so you don't bother his customers while you are setting up. You're playing for beer and he wants you there 4 and 1/2 hours early? I'd pass.

    Is this normal? Not in any clubs I play. But then I don't play night clubs that don't pay. ;)
  4. expatmuso


    Sep 3, 2015
    One of the members of the band acts as a kind of manager. He seems like a pretty good dude, but I think he's being a bit of a push-over.

    the thought crossed my mind. But I'm living in area where there isn't much of a music scene. This band is pretty good musician-wise, and personality-wise but they're hard up for venues to play, unfortunately.
    Mr_Moo and Spidey2112 like this.
  5. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    You setup before 7 and then go do your thing until 10:30~. Nobody wants their customers to hear soundcheck.
  6. viper4000


    Aug 17, 2010
    I have dealt with that a few times. Around here bars have to serve food. So many bars masquerade as restaurants. Some want you to set up during the transition from lunch and dinner. When we were forced to do this we always packed up our guitars and mics and left everything else in place. Not ideal, but @DiabolusInMusic makes a good point. And as you said you are struggling for places to play. See if they can validate parking since you're not really being paid.
    MobileHolmes, Mr_Moo and expatmuso like this.
  7. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Yeah, this isn't too unusual.

    But really, no pay for a bar cover gig? :(

    10:30 start time? :dead:
    MobileHolmes, lat, Seanto and 7 others like this.
  8. expatmuso


    Sep 3, 2015
    Yeah, I know it's lame. I'm still kind of in a trial phase with this band, so I thought I should just do it and not complain (for now).
    BAG and Spidey2112 like this.
  9. RichardW


    Feb 25, 2016
    near Philly
    The 10:30 start for a non-paying gig would be a deal-breaker for me, but if we were going on then we'd probably arrive a 8:30. I get it that a venue might not want to "bother" patrons during sound check, but we're talking about a bar offering cheap beer as payment. Something tells me the patrons might not care one way or the other. And we always use soundcheck as an opportunity to plug the show, as in: "hey, if you liked that, stick around for the show..."
    LBS-bass, Mr_Moo, smogg and 5 others like this.
  10. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    In answer to your question in general it depends. Some place want the stage set and sound checked before the customers arrive, which sounds like the case here.

    Other places don't care (the places my band plays) they just want you ready to go at the start time. In that case it's up to you and the band to figure out how long it takes you to be ready. Depending on how much you are involved with PA/stage/lights load, it could be 1-3 hours before start time. If you just need to worry about your gear, 15 minutes before sound check is likely enough (it would be for me), but I help with our community load in and we typically start 2-3 hours before down beat with a 30 minute before down beat sound check target time.
    SoCal80s, filmtex and expatmuso like this.
  11. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    I provide the PA- arrive 2 hours before downbeat. I like to be all set up and ready to go about an hour before we start so I can switch from sound guy to bass player. Sometimes I use this hour to schmooze with the paying customers, get to know the other employees I'm working with that night, and perhaps have either an adult beverage and small nosh, or just a beverage. That extra hour also gives me a buffer if there's a technical problem.
    If the other guys are bringing the PA and all I have to do is set-up my bass rig, or it's a sub gig, about an hour early is all I allow. 15 minutes to get my bass ready and the rest for the above mentioned schmooze-beverage-get ready thing. After 40 years of bar band/cover gigs, this system has been honed to perfection for me. YMMV.
    If I had to do a show with the requirements youmention in the OP, I would do as other suggested. Set up as instructed. Then I'd grab my bass, effects and mics and go hang somewhere else till about 9:30-10:00.
    Also, I have been using a couple digital boards for the past few years, and with a couple of the band I regularly gig with, our sound check takes about 2 minutes. Sometimes we do a sound check immediately before we start. This has really saved time and made set-up easier on the venues and their customers. Highly recommended. (Soundcraft UI-16 & Mackie DL16S FYI)
  12. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North

    Only type of gig I'd show up for 4.5 hours early is a wedding gig and the pay would reflect that - and there's usually a really good meal involved.

    Bar gig? No freakin' way. When I was running PA for my band, I could be there 60 minutes before downbeat, be completely set up in 45 minutes or less and have time for a beer and leak before the first tune. Sometimes have to set up in the middle of the dinner crowd, which is a pain. Drummer sometimes would get there in the afternoon to set up if the place was close enought to his house.
    MDBass, Mr_Moo, EdO. and 5 others like this.
  13. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Yep. That kind of wasted sit-around time is factored into my compensation.
    MDBass, Mr_Moo and lfmn16 like this.
  14. friskinator

    friskinator Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2007
    Montreal, QC
    If they’re only offering beer as payment, they could at least offer you some decent quality beer. But cheap stuff only? Something tells me this place won’t be booking bands much longer.
  15. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    Set up across the street and attract a crowd over there
    hrodbert696, Seanto, Mr_Moo and 2 others like this.
  16. DanGroove


    Apr 27, 2017
    As a general rule for me, I don't do cover gigs for free except maybe one charity event a year. Free gigs are for playing original material. If I'm not getting money, I'm getting personal satisfaction. That's just my opinion/policy. I certainly wouldn't set up 4 hours early to play covers for free.
    Mr_Moo, EdO. and obimark like this.
  17. I would normally attribute it to a happy hour/after work patronage situation, but tomorrow is Saturday. Oh well, his bar, he knows his patrons better than any of us, so if you want to play his club, defer to his judgment. It is only unreasonable if you think it is, and for no pay I might do this show once to establish a relationship (if my band was still trying to develop a network) but I'd balk at a repeat invitation unless there is pay involved. This is a huge chunk of your day.

    I've encountered it in several clubs over the years, so it's not really that unusual. It's often during happy hour or specials time, and often there is food service involved and people show up for dinner, and the management doesn't want you hauling gear and imposing on his happy hour customers and business. Which is understandable, it's awkward for patrons who want to move about the bar and eat/drink in comfort if the band is doing heavy lifting and creating traffic lanes through the establishment, not to mention random noise and lights that might come from set up/sound check etc. Some of these bars really depend on these special hours of the day/week to pay the bills and make up for the frequent doldrums where the cash register is silent.
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
    Nevada Pete and expatmuso like this.
  18. fjbass78


    Jun 21, 2007
    that's crazy for no pay too
    expatmuso likes this.
  19. shastaband

    shastaband Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    One venue we play in town wants us to setup before the dinner crowd arrives, so all gear in and soundcheck done by 5:30 at the latest. We play from 8 until 11, and we get paid. Plus I only live a mile and a half away, so the other band members come and hang at my house until it's time to leave for the gig.

    On other gigs, we arrive about an hour and a half before the start time, early enough for set up and troubleshooting.
    MDBass, expatmuso and Saorex like this.
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    As others have said, it's not unusual to want a band to set up before the paying customers arrive and not to play until after food service hours if dinner is being served because it's difficult to have a conversation or get orders right trying to talk over the volume of your average band.

    Having a venue make excessive demands on a band is not unusual.

    That's not the same thing as saying it's acceptable.

    Seems like a lot of work and annoyance for some free cheap beer. The band could buy itself a case of premium microbrewery ale, stay home and drink it, and still come out ahead of the game.

    Sounds to me like the kind of gig offer you should say "no thanks" to.

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