Preparing for the Big Gig
OK – We have learned to disinfect our microphones, how to get paid for gigs, how to perform on boats, and lastly a crash course in Busking. Now we move onto the “big gig” where you and your band are on a real stage and PA is being provided by a professional sound company. If you plan to simply show up to the gig and expect everything to be perfect and to your needs and liking, you might want to read further.
What is a Stage Plot?
For purposes of this article, we will assume that you will be providing your own instruments and amplifiers – called “back line” gear. When you become a touring band, you will likely have all but the most personal gear rented locally for you from what is called your “band rider” but that’s a subject for another day. What you need to consider for the moment, is having a “stage plot” to communicate the placement of each of your band members to your sound company. A stage plot is a visual representation that illustrates your setup, where your gear will be placed, and your needs for power /electricity (never assume it’s going to be where you need it)! Include the name of each band member, what instruments they play (especially if they play multiple instruments like keyboard and trumpet for instance) and how many microphones, stage monitors and DI’s you will need. ( A “DI” is a black box that connects an amplifier directly to the PA – simply stated). Feel free to mention if the keyboard and bass amplifiers have balanced outputs or if they will need to be mic’d up.
Without a stage plot, your sound company will be guessing what you might need and, quite possibly, be ill prepared to provide it for you. As with most things in 2021, you can use software to generate a stage plot (google stage plot designer), but you can also generate an informal diagram or list:
- Joe – standard 2 tom drum kit. Mic on Kick, snare and hi hat. One overhead mic and one vocal mic on boom stand.
- Sandy – acoustic and electric guitar performing center stage. Vocal mic on boom stand. Guitar amp to left of drum monitor and DI for acoustic guitar.
- Ted – electric bass. Performs stage left. Boom mic for vocals. Bass rig balanced out to DI.
- Tony – 2 keyboards running mono into single keyboard amp with balanced out to DI. Once vocal mic on boom that doubles as instrument mic for trumpet.
Below is an example of the stage plot for The Racket Downstairs that they provided for the Guilford Performing Arts Festival. Hope this is helpful!
Email your plot and instructions to whomever booked your gig – promoter, manager, venue manager, and most importantly, the sound company providing you with PA. Then show up (on time), do a sound check, have fun, put on a great show, and get hired some more!