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Large(ish) bands in small venues/stages - how do you set up?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by Marley's Ghost, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    My band consists of 2 guitars, drums, bass and keyboards. We played a small stage Saturday, and I was bumped off the stage onto the floor due to space constraints. I had to turn my rig sideways to avoid blasting the key player in the back. :rollno: I'm looking for setup ideas to optimize usage of space and live mix.
  2. Stack your amps if you can, share foldbacks where possible, convince the drummer that he really doesn't need all seventeen cymbals. ;)
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    It is a challenge and requirements will no doubt be different for every venue you play. It pays to go and check out the layout of the venue beforehand so you know what gear you should or shouldn't bring. In fact, this afternoon I am going to check out the place we are playing Saturday night. We have never been there and it is kind of an important show, so I am doing my homework. Always do your homework.
  4. bertbass666


    Mar 6, 2009
    My band is a 3 piece and a lot of gigs we play have a stage that is just too small form all of us to play on. In this situation we have the backline and drums on the stage and the guitarist and I both stand on the floor. Makes the stage into a drum riser and it doesn't look stupid which it would with just one of us on the floor.

    In your situation, I'd have the drums, keys and backline on the stage and the rest on the floor in front. As a bonus, you also get a lot more room to move about.
  5. powmetalbassist

    powmetalbassist Supporting Member

    well, depending what type of music you play, maybe you don't need everything on stage. Amps are just show pieces (you can DI), drums can be racked or go electric (good luck with convincing a drummer of the latter), if the stage isn't way off the ground you could move out into the floor, keyboardist could go Keytar. There are lots of ways to save room, it's just a matter of if you are willing to do what it takes to add room. I play in a metal band and dropping the huge amps to DI is not an option. The amps are part of the image.
  6. Keithwah


    Jan 7, 2011
    Milwaukee WI
    Side washing is a great way to go when playing live. It reduces the battle between the FOH guy that has to pound the room in order to get over the sound of your stage rig. Try taking some low end out just to make sure you don't create a boomy mushy stage sound. Most importantly, side washing allows the FOH guy to properly destroy your great stage turning the bass into a solid wall of boom and indistinguishable mud....which is how it's supposed to be, no? A little humor without formally bashing the FOH guy!

    JimBob has sage advice, can anyone leave a couple things in the truck? Floyd knows exactly what he is talking about. Know your environment before you go in there. You can also google bands that play there, visit their websites in hopes of finding some gig pics that show how others successfully work the room. powermetal has good recommendations, but keyboard players who aren't Keith Emerson or Jan Hammer just annoy the crud out of me when they try to be hip and "rock out" with the front line. Keytars are cool, but you could be opening a Pandora's Box. I also remember when I thought the backline was a part of the "image". To me and other musicians, yeah we like to see walls of gear...we start sportin' wood almost immediately. But really, the paying customer just wants to hear a great sound and see a fun to watch band. I still play a big rig when I play rock (2-1x15's and 2-4x10's and two racks). But I side wash it so they don't see it anyway. My guitarists for the past 20 years have been also side washing. It really helps the entire front line to hear the instruments, the drummer gets it as well. Win-win. Granted I haven't been playing metal/hard rock as a bassist for a couple years, but back in my AIC, Priest, Scorps, Slayer days....yeah I started that way, but realized I wanted to hear things from the other side of the stage without getting the guitarist in my wedge, and side wash was the ticket. So for me, my image was in my hands and my voice. What the stage looks like means little to anyone who isn't a musician in the grand scope of life. I've had a couple of bands that put chain link fencing and stage drops in front of the back line and I've even told people.."nah, our amps are behind the backdrop so we have more stage room. Nobody but another musician would ever give you any crap about it. And please understand, I don't have an issue with back line being part of the image, but if the gear don't fit, you must acquit. If I only have 2-3 feet of space behind me on stage, I'd be moving my rig, to give me more room to be visual. But again, no offense meant, I just think if you had to side wash to get everyone plenty of room on stage you'll be all the better off. If you have the room on stage, go for it. Not hurting anyone.

    Now that all said, bottom line is this, get done...get paid....get booked back......get out. As long as you minimize the discussions about how this is going to "suck", you will be allowed to accomplish your goal of entertaining. Always put the customer first. Do what you have to do, smile, and never let them see you "sweat" the BS of the venue. But the best answer here for you is listen to what BertBass is saying. Just use the stage for drums, keys and back line (if you can't bring yourself to side wash), set your front line up on the floor in front, suck it up and go kick butt with your music.

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