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Outdoor Shows - What's Different?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by slipperyPete, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. Hi everyone, I will be playing my first show outdoors and was wondering what I should be prepared for. It is going to be somewhat small, its on our campus mall, and we have to provide all of our own equipment (another first for me.) So any suggestions that will make my first outdoor show go more smoothly are appreciated.
  2. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Well, you're going to have to push more wattage to get the same volume outside... and it's certainly not going to sound the same.

    Bass will feel lost, mainly because it's not reverberating off of every surface in the room... It will still be there, but you'll have to learn quickly how to listen for it. Ditto for everything else. I would describe it as "more space" between the individual instrument sounds. Think about playing in an empty metal and concrete warehouse. Now think the exact opposite, and that's playing outdoors.

    If there are tall buildings within 1000 feet or so, be prepared for some old school slapback echo, especially off of the snare drum. Sometimes that can be a real distraction, but that's part of the fun.

    If you plan to use loose sheets of paper, find some way to secure them so they don't fly away. Clothespins are great for this pupose - either clip them to something or just use the pins for a little bit of weight on the corners so the set list doesn't fold itself in half from wind.

    That's all I can think of right now. Good luck!
  3. How much more wattage are we talking here? I will be running 300 watts, and we don't have to be super loud or anything. And excellent idea about paper blowing around, I'll keep that in mind for sure.
  4. aarono


    Feb 14, 2006
    Prepare for insects, etc. to fly around you and perhaps land on you. Especially bees, I could see that scaring me down the road.
  5. phillys


    Feb 4, 2006
    From what I have gathered from around here, dont wear bright coloured T-shirts/pants when playing outdoor :p
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    How many watts in your PA? I'd say a couple thousand is minimal for outdoors. We typically run between 6,000 and 10,000 outdoors.
  7. RyansDad


    Jan 31, 2006
    Tolland, CT
    Mic'ing everyone through the PA is going to be mandatory. You will never be able to balance everything (or really hear each other) otherwise.

    In terms of wattage requirements (both for you and for the PA), that depends. What type of music are you playing? How far does the sound need to project (30 yards? 80 yards?)?
  8. ric1312

    ric1312 Banned

    Apr 16, 2006
    chicago, IL.
    10,000 ????

    I used a wimpy 500watt pa with just 2 speakers and two monitors and an oudoor colledge party on a 3 acre lot and has to turn down cause they heard it five houses away.

    but, hearing individual instruments is much harder if they aren't all going through the pa monitors. Nothing to bounce off of, sooo unless your standing in front of what you want to hear........
  9. Hmm, we may have to rethink our plans then. I'm just kind of filling in with this guy so I don't have all the specifics as to a PA or monitors. Its not going to be a huge show or anything though. Just something for the people passing by or chilling out on the lawn to listen to. Thanks for all the advice everyone.
  10. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    Bring tarps to throw over gear in the event of a sudden rain shower.
  11. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    - Depending on the weather, your hands may get cold. When they get cold, they don't move as well. Bring something to warm your hands up between songs/sets if it gets chilly.

    - Music stands with clips work decently for keeping stuff from flying around. Take it a step further and put music in a binder. That helps alot.

    - Duct tape is your friend. Use that to tape down set lists, cables, etc that can be tripped over or blown away by the wind.

    - Windscreen for the microphone. If it's windy, it comes in real handy.

    - You'll need more wattage and speakers to get volume comparable to indoors. You may need to bump certain frequencies to deal with noise, such as traffic, pedestrians, etc.

    - Tarp in case it rains. Have it ready to throw over your equipment immediately.

    - Towel, in case it's real hot and you're sweating bullets. Also handy for spills.
  12. If it's cold and it starts raining and you decide to keep playing, you'll have to be able to play without any feeling in the ends of your fingers.
  13. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    If you're not concerned about "rock show" volume, then you'll probably be ok. I've done small outdoor shows with a measley 900W amp, and we had more than enough volume. If you are wanting to turn up to the volume you'd probably want in a club, you'll probably want a little bit more, but you'd also want big subs and such.

    It's all about what you want to accomplish. "Chill out" music, to me, doesn't need so much volume - enough to be heard clearly if you want to listen, and yet not so much that you can't ignore it if you're walking past and don't want to stop.
  14. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    I play outdoors more often than not.

    It sounds like, if you are *too* loud, you will be hearing echoes off the buildings, especially the snare, as someone else has already said. Be prepared for that.

    I like to run my bass through the PA when outside, and use my amp as a monitor. As has already been stated, it is *much* harder to hear one another, outside. Monitors are *key*, here. You'll need to hear yourself, and try to be situated where you can hear the vocals and guitars in the monitors, too. 's why I go through the PA. I hear my bass, behind me, and I can hear the rest in the floor monitors, in front of me.

    Be prepared for rain. Bring good tarps, and bungees to secure them with. If you can, get yourself a piece of plywood to set your amp/cab on. It really, really helps.

    Wear insect repellent. You don't want bugs on you, distracting you, while you play. And be prepared for them to get into your ears, nose, or...ACK!!!...your mouth. I once had a bug fly *straight* into the back of my throat. I opened up to sing, and...WHAM!!! Ack, ack, ack, splutter, splutter, gag. I sounded just like Bill The Cat.

    And on that note...no bright colors that bugs will enjoy, like yellow or bright green.

    If sunny...bring your shades! Sux to forget your shades, and squint into the sun as the sweat runs down your face, while playing. You don't want to try that at 105F, like I did once. {{{shudder!}}}

    ***Water!*** Yeah, sure have your beer. But always get a water to back it, and *drink* that water. It would be embarrassing to fall out from heat and dehydration, no?

    Make sure someone takes pics for you. Outdoor shows make great pics. The colors look more intense, and if you have pretty surroundings, your pictures will be awesome.

    Have a great time, and let us know how it goes!

    Cherie...Outdoor Bassist :bassist:
  15. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Here's one I learned the hard way: instead of using stand(s), always lie you bass(es) down on the stage! (On top of a closed case or gig bag.) I had a gust of wind blow one over. Shortly after, I made the mistake again and sure enough, it happened again!

    About bugs: I once had a spider lower himself onto my fretboard and perch on a fret. Being an animal lover, I wasn't scared or grossed out, but rather I dreaded the moment when I had to play that note! (Okay... okay... here comes the chorus... AAAAARGHHH!) Fortunately, he dropped off mere measures before I had to go there.
  16. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Spidey was a bass lover! I'm glad you didn't have to squash 'im.

    Cherie :)
  17. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Nope, I never hurt anything.
  18. Thunder Lizard

    Thunder Lizard

    Dec 7, 2005
    Lethbridge, AB
    Canadian Distributor, Basson Sound Equipment
    As an engineer and bassist, I LOVE playing outdoors.
    There's no physical room to mess with the sound, but it does require more PA power, and your monitors are going to work pretty hard. If you can rent a set of in-ears, or purchase one, you'll love the fact that they stay the same indoors and out.
    Your bass amp itself likely has never been over "3" indoors.... work that volume knob from stop to stop about a hundred times, in case the unused (usually) higher settings have a little dirt in them. Consider fans for your amps if it's hot...every little bit helps, and a hot amp doesn't work as well as a cooler one.
    Those who mentioned tarps are SO on the mark.....nothing could suck more than rain in your gear!
    If you can, try to get a covered stage...... rain or shine, it's good to keep mother nature from interacting with your gear.... I've even had an spx90 display destroyed by direct sunlight, and if you use any kind of processing (like a Pod XT Live) with a display, it will be VERY hard to see in bright sunlight... think about a small piece of cardboard taped on to block the sun, if your stage is not covered.
    Leave your guitar out of the case, and if you're playing in full sun, make sure your guitar is in the sun for a few minutes before you tune.... direct sun heats your instrument quickly, and not only can you get burned, it will throw your tuning off.
    SUNSCREEN......good lord, don't forget some of that, and go with the waterproof, spf HUGE stuff...get your tan offstage!
    Plus, a really good sunscreen blocks UV,and it can help you feel a bit cooler onstage. If your set is in the evening, plan for temperature changes, too. Maybe an extra shirt or something, in case it cools off.
    Have fun, I'm looking forward to playing outside again, and hopefully you'll get plenty of chances to both play and enjoy the outdoors...something we usually don't get to do! ( At least, in Southern Freezing Alberta, Canada)
  19. Well I played the show yesterday and there were a couple problems. It didn't rain even though the entire week prior they were calling for rain, but instead we had wind gusts over 30 mph which blew over our PA speakers and one stopped working. Also, I wasn't able to hear much vocals, guitar, or saxophone, so I only had the drummer to go off from. Aside from that, the group performance went OK, and I definetly learned a lot from this experience.

    I had to cut my solo time short because I was getting a lot of distortion on my tapping parts and it wasn't sounding good at all. I tried to recover though and decided to just play my harmonic song which went well. All in all, I would say it was a good experience and I am glad that I did it. Thanks to everyone for your advice.

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