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Load-in and setup: What is reasonable?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by The Thinker, Oct 21, 2013.

  1. The Thinker

    The Thinker

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Hi, all:

    I joined a band recently and the expectation for gig setup seems a bit much to me. I've been exclusively jobbing the last several years so my perspective is maybe a bit skewed--I was rarely asked to show up more than 1.5 hours before a gig while jobbing.

    For this band, setup involves a full PA (but there's a sound guy who does it), pretty big drum kit, riser (drummer brings a modular riser to each gig), some lights, a banner. Band is drummer, 2 guitars, vocals, bass. Everyone gets a vocal mic except the drummer.

    The band leader wants to do setup/soundcheck the morning of the gig (a Saturday) because he doesn't like setting up and soundchecking when the bar is full of customers :meh:. He is asking for a 3-hour load-in/setup (probably 10:00 - 1:00) that morning. I suspect he will still want the band at the gig an hour ahead of stage time.

    This seems like a lot to me--especially for a medium-sized bar gig. Does this seem over the top? :confused:
  2. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    It does seem a bit over the top but apparently, that's the gig.
  3. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Houston, TX
    A little bit,,, but it is very normal for venues to want bands to load in and sound-check early. Don't see it so much when gigging locally, but on the road, it is pretty common to do a 6pm load in and sound check for a 10pm gig.
  4. With all the stuff you guys have to set up it sounds pretty realistic. If you're good at it, used to it, and everyone is actually there you could do it all in about an hour and a half... but it sounds like this will be the first time around
  5. FWIW: It takes me about 10 minutes tops to load in and setup, so unless I’m paid extra to show up hours in advance, I arrive about 20 minutes before show time.
  6. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    If it takes your band 18 man-hours (five band members plus the sound guy) to set up and sound check, you're doing something very, very wrong. I'd check with other bands that play that venue and find out what they do. And showing up at least an hour before the gig seems totally unnecessary.
  7. I agree. Even for a first time setup, two hours TOPS. The PA takes more time than anything else. If the sound guy needs to show up before the rest of the band, that's his problem.
  8. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    Yes, sometimes the gig is the gig, early setup and all.

    My main project does mostly events and private parties and plays only one nightclub exclusively. On Friday we have an 8:30pm show time. We are required to show up between 3:30-4:00pm to load-in and sound check. Our sound check has to be done by 5:30pm when the doors open. There's already a back line there including drums and keyboards. The band only has to bring their instruments. The PA and lights are in place and the venue has a full-time sound guy. Then on Saturday we can show up pretty much any time but the owner likes us there at least a half hour before downbeat.

    When I do pick-up work I'll show up at the gig an hour before downbeat so I don't have to rush to get set up. Most events and casuals (wedding receptions, parties, etc) will require us be all set up and sound checked before guests arrive. It all just depends.

    Is this behavior consistent with every gig this band does? I would think that not all gigs have to be that way.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  9. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I'd show up for a 9:30 gig around 7:30 or 8:00. Do the load in, have a burger and a beer, do sound check......
  10. The Thinker

    The Thinker

    Sep 17, 2003
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks for the replies so far--very helpful.

    This isn't a new band--I'm just a new member. They have been gigging for a few years and have played this venue before. So it's not a new routine. They have been using the same soundguy for a while too.

    Although I'm not certain, some of the discussion at rehearsals leads me to believe this is the norm for this group. Also, they have a hard time keeping practices short, so I think this is just how the band operates.

    Personally, it seems like something is way, way off. I think it is time for a polite conversation with the band leader.
  11. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    Assuming the sound guy is competent and everybody helps move stuff in, the only plausible bottleneck I see is the drum kit and riser. If it were my new band, I'd do it once to see what the problems are (and who the slackers are), then put a bug in the BL's ear.
  12. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    We have all that stuff plus some and we can load in, set up and be soundchecked easily in an hour and a half. It will get faster once you get a routine going. A trailer helps a lot.
  13. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Banned

    Feb 21, 2010
    St. Louis
    And our drum riser is plywood and has to be screwed together. Plus I set most of the the PA up myself. AND there's only 3 of us plus the soundguy.
  14. 45acp


    Feb 5, 2013
    Texarkana TX
    Good luck with "the talk". Whatever the heck they are doing, by now I would guess they are set in their ways.

    Every band is different and has different expectations... but I would say normally if a band does the morning setup/soundcheck then it would be totally reasonable to show up 5 minutes before the gig. Don't get me wrong- I am typically an early bird who gets there 2 hours ahead of time and has a beer and food- however if we've set up that morning and we are good to go then I would have no problem showing up at 8:58 for a 9:00 start.
  15. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    I'll ask the question no one else has yet -
    How much of that are you getting paid for ?
  16. I usually get to my Saturday gig 10 minutes before we start :p
  17. From what I got from it, he isn't asking for 18 man hours?? to load in :eyebrow:
    He wants to load in & sound check when the bar is empty which is reasonable and better for the punters and bar staff taking orders etc.
    3 hours if you have a lot of gear is reasonable & allows to fix any potnetial issues (dirty power, something not working etc) and have a good soundcheck so you sound at your best.
    Just because he has allowed for 3 hours, doesn't mean it has to be 3 hours, you may be finished and happy in 2

    Coming an hour before the gig is reasonable too. Do you not spend any time with the band before hand? Are you not friends? Spending time before the gig can result in better chemistry.

    If you want to be seen as a professional, it is less like "she'll be right" and more a case of acting like a professional and making sure you have no issues so the crowd and bar get what they are paying for.

    Turning up just before you go on can be ok, as long as everything is 100% right before you leave from load in and sound check

    My 2 cents worth
  18. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    That's very over the top. The only gigs I've done that required an early setup were at larger venues that had nationally touring acts coming through them. That made sense considering the size of these venues, but for a local bar gig you shouldn't need to show up more than an hour or two beforehand to be ready.
  19. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I played in one band where the "leader" wanted to show up at 5:30 for a 9:00 start time. I did it one time and told him NO FREAKING way again- he basically wanted me to stand there for two hours while he tried to MIC each and every drum! (When the drums were already WAY, WAY TOO loud for the small little bar.) I had my bass amp setup in all of 15 minutes. And then to add insult to injury he wouldn't put my bass in the PA at all, so I had to overpower my stage volume. But yeah every drum and his guitar was EAR-SPLITTING, ear plug needing loud.
    Every band I have ever been in, I have dealt with this- and I don't do it anymore, I can show up 1 hour before showtime, be ready in 15 minutes, have a beer and still play a warm up soundcheck.
  20. Dave W

    Dave W

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    How far away is the venue from you?

    This all sounds pretty silly to me. A 3 hour setup the morning of the gig? What kind of lives do these guys have that they can dedicate that much time to one gig?

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