Stadium shows: what should I expect?

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by darkwasthenight, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. darkwasthenight


    Oct 17, 2010
    Before we start, there's basically no way to ask these questions without it sounding like a humblebrag, but I'm genuinely asking for advice so be kind...

    I play with an originals band who I have known for a long time - I'm a session player and cover whatever they need but mostly bass then guitar/keys for the bigger shows. By some act of total lunacy we have managed to land ourselves a support slot on a massive tour and so for the next two months I will be living on a bus and playing basically every stadium in the UK and Europe. The Stones have cancelled so we're pretty much the biggest game in town this summer!

    We've done plenty of big festivals and van tours so we're not exactly rookies, but this is the first time any of us have played any shows of this size and I have no idea what to expect so I'm generally throwing an appeal out for general advice; I assume there is going to be something glaringly obvious that everyone who has done these shows already knows but will still blindside me on the first night so I'm trying to minimise that possibility.

    Details to forestall a few obvious question I can see coming up:
    • The tour is UK/Europe support for Pink on the Beautiful Trauma Tour. Smallest venue will be 20k cap and largest is somewhere around 100k (Wembley).
    • We're all on in-ears as of this tour. Drummer is used to them, rest of us not so much. I'm using Shure 215's which unfortunately aren't custom moulds but I'm working to a fairly minimal budget. We don't have a monitors engineer so I'm prepared for the worst in this regard. If things are really disastrous then I'm losing the plugs and hugging the drummer's podium for the evening...
    • We have a pro tour manager and small crew on board with us who will manage most of the day-to-day travel details leaving me to worry about not screwing up onstage (Wot, me? Worried??)
    • Did I mention we're playing Wembley? Twice? (see above note about me being worried)
    • My travel insurance and documents are up to date and I will be travelling with the band rig rather than my own so I don't have to worry about my premiums skyrocketing or all of my precious gear falling off the ferry.
    • There's one fly date where I will be using rented back-line and instrument which is a bit of an unknown quality I would really prefer not to have to deal with. I will have my board with me at least.
    • I can give exactly zero advice on how to get stadium gigs because I'm very much a bewildered coat-tail grasper at the moment. Sometime in late 2017 I nipped into the guitarist's shop to buy a shirt, mentioned I was doing a bit of session work, and then the last year has been a bit of a blur! I'm actually still full-time employed but my work have been exceedingly patient with me and graciously allowed me the time off.
    hbabels, rendevouz, chuckNC and 62 others like this.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I got nutn. But congrats! Report from the road!
    SoCal80s, chuckNC, noodler and 5 others like this.
  3. G19Tony


    Apr 27, 2018
    Las Vegas, NV
    Sounds like a fun summer! Bring the house down.
    basspraiser likes this.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    Stadium shows: what should I expect?
    - disconnects between you and the audience..."they're so far away!"
    - food: be careful of any white sauces :D , warm food when should be cold, cold food when should be warm....
    - sleep = energy/attitude
    - traveling: be careful to pick your 'hang'.
    - drugs = usually better. :laugh:

    good luck with the tour! :thumbsup:
  5. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    If your tour manager is truly a pro this will all be second nature to him/her. Lean on them heavily.
    Good luck, sounds like the experience of a lifetime.
    The tour will certainly have a super-pro monitor engineer. Discuss with them how to do your monitoring.
    Borrow some money and get better AND custom fit earbuds.
    By the time you hit this level of touring, all the petty 'Make the support act sound like crap' should be gone, and everyone n the tour should be willing to help make the tour a success.
  6. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    -Don't be afraid to ask nicely for anything you need, but use your point person when you can. It's much easier for organizations to deal with a single communication point, and it keeps miscommunications from happening.

    -even in the big places, where more presentational stage work may feel required at a constant rate--it would do well for bands to remember: play with one another for the audience, don't play next to one another at the audience.
    Eye contact, listening to one another, hitting your usual marks are all key! But if you get a moment to throw a bone to the audience (when you are trucking along 16 bars of A major quarter notes)--then do it!

    -on the gig where you'll have a rented instrument--it'll probably be just fine (when I went on a colosseum tour the provided guitar was better than mine). But maybe google the local guitar shops in case there's a problem--you'll have an address to send a gopher to rent something. Bring extra strings with you.
    DrMole, Haroldo, Oddly and 4 others like this.
  7. Hi,

    First of all, congratulations on landing such a fun tour!

    I have a pair of the Shure SE215 ear buds and they are fine. I like my KZ ear buds (triple driver) a lot beetter, and they don't break the bank.

    KZ makes several models from dual drivers to five drivers. They are great bang for your buck. Spend a little extra and get the upgraded cable.

    Because the stage, venue, and audience will be so big, try your best to get a good monitor mix. This will keep you connected to the band.

    Be patient always. As others have mentioned, sleep good, eat right, don't party too much, save your energy for the show, and enjoy!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  8. I have no advice for but a whole lotta congratulations. This sounds like a ton of fun. If you remember and have a chance it would be awesome if you can document your tour here on TB. For those of us that are weekend warrior types that play pubs and lodges, it would be great insight and very interesting. Once again, congratulations,knock it out of the park.
  9. LowFactor


    Jul 6, 2018
    First off. Congratulations. It will be quite the experience for you. Sounds like you have most of the basics covered. I have spent the last 18 years touring as a sound guy/ production manager with major acts so the advice I can give you is from that perspective.

    Fist off, don’t poop on the bus. Always sleep with your feet towards the front of the bus and my preference is to sleep on the drivers side... in the event of an accident their natural instinct is to protect themselves and steer the passenger side into danger.... also while it is the bus drivers job to clean the bus every day, don’t make it harder on them. Clean up after yourselves. Don’t leave trash all over the place. It is your home after all.

    Remember that this is a job, both for you and everyone else involved with the tour. Don’t party till your job is done for the day. Be responsible. Be where you need to be before you need to be there.

    More than likely the engineers mixing you will be the techs that set things up and not the actual engineers mixing the headliner. The techs are generally younger folk that work for the sound company supplying the gear and are responsible for making sure it all works everyday. They will mix your band for experience and cause the band engineers don’t want to. They generally aren’t getting paid to mix you so it is good to tip them out daily or weekly for helping you out. Ask your Tour manager about what is proper on your tour. You will get a soundcheck at the beginning of the tour probably for the first week or so. Then it will depend on time. If things get behind schedule, which they often do for various reasons your soundcheck will probably be the first thing cut. But with digital consoles that shouldn’t be a big deal. Be nice and take care of them and they’ll take care of you. Stay out of their way till they are ready for you. Nothing is worse than someone trying to chat you up while flying a 4000 pound stack of speakers or solving a problem.

    Make sure you have plenty of strings, a backup head and spares of most things. Murphy loves roadies and shows up often in the weirdest places. Always find the simplest solution.

    Using generic ear buds shouldn’t be an issue. But it would be helpful if your whole band had the same ones. That way one guy isn’t complaining that something is too bright while someone else thinks it isn’t. And clean your earbuds everyday. Wipe them down, clean the wax out. Keep them in good working order. Maybe see if one of the monitor engineers would be willing to vacuum them out once in a while for you. Also it is helpful if you all start with your volume on your earpacks at about 12 o’clock. That way the engineer isn’t having to push a lot of signal to one person and barely any to another person.

    You will be dependent on your IEMs. On big stages there generally aren’t a lot of walls or reflective boundaries to reflect sound back at you. Depending on the headliners preference on how the PA is deployed you may not hear much of the house onstage. Or all you may hear is the subs. It will feel totally different than a club or even a large theater but you will get used to it. Just cause it’s a stadium doesn’t mean you need to crank your amps all the way up. Let the PA do the heavy lifting and be open minded and willing to work with the engineers on things. They aren’t trying to change your tone, just convey it clearly to the audience.

    Keep the backstage guests to a minimum. I was the crew chief for a large multi day festival in a stadium a couple weeks ago. Had a local band for an opener one of the days. They showed up with a bigger entourage of friends and family than the headliner and direct support act had crew. And they were all hanging out side stage making it very difficult for the crew to do our jobs efficiently. Kept having to move them so we could get through. It was annoying to say the least.

    Eat healthy and try to exercise everyday. Even if that is just going for a walk. Try to find a routine and stick to it. Get up at the same time , eat around the same time, etc.

    Most of all, have fun. Play your butts off. Make some friends and some great memories. Enjoy the hell out of it. And I can’t wait to see these gig reports.
    Mr_Moo, chuckNC, equill and 30 others like this.
  10. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    One thing that came to my mind and don't see addressed is concern about transporting exotic woods over international lines. IF you have a maple board and no exotic wood on your body, you should have no issues, but dark wood boards may be problematic. Be sure to have any specific documentation regarding the construction of your bass, be sure to have it with you as you cross boarders. I don't know all the regs, but I know there is a crack down on certain rosewoods and other exotic woods crossing borders. Phi Mann talked about this in a recent SBL seminar and has begum leaving his main player (rosewood board) at home when he crosses borders and just takes his maple fretboard basses to minimize and customs fiascos.

    Sounds like a fun gig - report back as you can to share your experience.
    pcake and Sore Thumb like this.
  11. Hi,

    Excellent post! I had forgotten these courtesy and safety concerns about touring on a bus. Sleep with your feet toward the front so that you'll stand a better chance of breaking your leg instead of breaking your neck, if there is any kind of head-on accident.

    To @darkwasthenight: Yes, please take a few pictures at each performance to share with the class. We'd love to come along on your adventure. Share the fun! :)

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    twocargar, JoshS and Sore Thumb like this.
  12. lizardking837


    Jan 28, 2009
    Good luck, man! You're living the dream!
    chuckNC, Dgl44 and Sore Thumb like this.
  13. darkwasthenight


    Oct 17, 2010
    Lot of great advice here so I'm going to address what I can, but it's all appreciated!

    The tour manager is indeed a pro and has remained totally sanguine as we run around like headless chickens. He's asked for only the information he needs and told us not to worry about anything else until he specifically asks for it.

    I've no doubt Pink's crew will be fine. Her management have been positive and she seems to have a good track record for engaging with her supports, but I'm also aware we're very much the baby supports so will be first ones with time on the chopping block. We're planning to undercut the first few set times until we know exactly where the limits are so as not to wind anybody up on the first day.

    Luckily we can afford to take our own usual guy out on this run as well as the actual TM. He will be acting as gopher, point, tech, and anything else we need him for really. We've known him a long time and he's an exceedingly cool head in a tight spot so I'm happy to make stuff his problem when required.

    The fly date is a single show at the Montreux jazz festival as main support for Sting (did I not mention that? We're playing with Sting and oh boy do I not believe myself when I type that...) so as long as the guitar is playable it'll be fine.

    None of us are partiers and our singer is on a booze ban for the duration to keep her voice rolling, so we'll be on a solidarity ban too. I was lucky enough to be able to pick a guy to cover my bass duties so I've tried to fill the group headspace with as much zen vibes as possible to counteract drama potential. We're also on crew catering for show days so I suspect the main drag factors will be bus boredom!

    This is absolutely fantastic and exactly what I was hoping for! Regarding the bus we have already laid down the ground rules for expected behaviour (no solids, no hangers-on, and no sexual activity of any kind unless you brought enough for the class) but again we're all adults so I'm not anticipating trouble*. After we get through the final leg there will be a party in a room with no windows and no cameras allowed after which we'll never speak of the evening again...

    I'll post trip reports as much as possible as I will need something to fill the other 23 hours and 30 minutes of the day I'm not onstage. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity that has basically landed in my lap and want to share the journey with anyone interested really. Besides, who doesn't want to post photos of themselves in front of 50,000 people???

    *Edit: let me rephrase that. I'm anticipating trouble at some point but more of the "cracking and throwing a punch over the toast because somebody has chewed with their mouth open for the fifteenth day in a row" type than the "slept with the tour manager's girlfriend and the drummer while on a coke binge" type (unless things go really well) and after fifteen years talking down drunk idiots at festivals I'm pretty qualified to deal with the first type.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
  14. I took my wife to see Pink a number of years ago and the opening band sounded fine. I don't remember them but I remember the bad sounding openers from other shows. I hope that gives you some comfort.
  15. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    For this, it's worth finding the dough for custom IEM inserts.
    hbabels and Kevan Campbell like this.
  16. rutrho


    Mar 29, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Woah, that sounds like a blast! Have fun! While I've never been on a small tour or anything, I have to travel a lot for work and I find having a routine helps day to day when every day is in a new place with new challenges and situations.
    Gaolee likes this.
  17. LowFactor


    Jul 6, 2018
    No need to undercut your set times. Take up your full time but don’t go one second over. Stage managers are very punctual people. Nothing winds them up more than someone not sticking to the schedule.

    Make sure you have access to multiple streaming services on the bus. You will watch lots of movies. Lots of movies you thought you’d never watch... if someone has a video game system make sure you have multiple controllers. Have played a lot of drunken Mario cart tournaments. Posting gig reports is a good way to pass time and record your experience for your own sake.

    Pink’s crew is top notch. I’m sure they will take good care of you. Watch out for the last few shows. Roadies get bored and if they really like you pranks will happen. Have had pizzas delivered to a band mid set, re-recorded playback tracks and click tracks..... All in good fun. And one of the nice parts of this level of touring is that they carry their own chefs. You’ll eat very well. Make friends with them....

    Oh and one last important bus note. Make sure you always have a couple cases of water on the bus. Tap water on busses is fine for washing hands and flushing the toilet but always use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth.

    The opening and direct support slots are my favorite on these tours. You have a shorter work day and are all packed up and showered early enough to watch the headliner. And you have plenty of time throughout the day to explore the cities you are in.

    I love watching bands in your position on these tours. Going from nervousness the first couple of shows to growing and absolutely owning it by the end.
    Mr_Moo, chuckNC, geeza and 12 others like this.
  18. BurtMacklinFBI

    BurtMacklinFBI Degen from Up-Country

    Apr 3, 2018
    Relax. Have fun. Stay sober. Fire the drummer immediately.
    rufus.K, Oddly, twocargar and 2 others like this.
  19. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Make sure your gear is compatible with the different voltages AND quality of power.
    rufus.K and Avigdor like this.
  20. BOOG


    Dec 13, 2016
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I got nuthin, but....


    Enjoy! What a rush!