Everyone has gone to see their favorite musicians perform at a musical venue. One thing that many people don’t realize is the amount of setup that goes into putting on a show. For bigger performances, the venue and the band’s crew show up at 8-9 in the morning to begin setting up. One of the main things that go into the day of performance is the soundcheck.
A soundcheck is easily the most important thing for a band prior to their show. This is because this is when the bands front of house or “FOH” can begin dialing in the sound of the room. A soundcheck allows you to make sure all of your gear is working properly. You will notice that if you arrive at a show early, the band will be playing through some of their songs. This is their soundcheck.
How To Properly Do A Soundcheck
There will be an order that bands follow for a concert. The headline band always sound-checks first followed by direct support and then followed by the opening band. This can change depending on how many bands are on the specific bill, but this is normally how it goes. If you are the headline band you typically have a good amount of time to get your gear up on stage and get through a couple of songs.
For bands who aren’t the headliner, make sure that you are on time. You will be notified when to get to the venue and this is something you never want to be late for. Being late will result in you pissing off the venue and also the headlining band. You never want to do this because you want as many venue promoters to like you as you possibly can.
Show up to the venue when you are informed to! Don’t show up early and don’t show up late. Never show up when the headliner shows up. Figure out what time the headlining band or venue want you to be there. When you do arrive you can begin staging your gear off to the side of the room.
Don’t just come in with your gear and put it in the middle of the venue because chances are the headliner will be moving their cases still or the opening band will still be loading in.
You will stage your equipment off to the side and basically build everything that you need. This means, build your drum-kit and have it ready so that you can quickly load your gear up to the stage. Don’t begin loading your gear up on stage until the headliner has told you to do so. Nothing will tick them off more than you trying to load your gear on stage while they’re still figuring everything out.
While you’re staging your gear, this is also the time to tune your drums or tune your guitars. Try and have this done before you go up on stage so you’re not sitting on stage trying to tune when it’s time to run through a quick song.
Depending on how big the band is, the headliner will strike the equipment. This means they will move some of their instruments to allow space for the opening bands. Now, this doesn’t happen very frequently. Bands want to leave as much stuff as they can in position to make for a faster change-over. This is not the band being mean, it’s just how it works in the touring world.
Many opening bands do understand this and they get upset, but it’s what every band has to go through at some point. Be prepared to play on some stages where you can barely stand because there’s production and equipment everywhere. If you are direct support you may be asked to strike so the opening band can get all their gear on stage.
To strike your equipment, you will use colored tape and tape around the corners of your instruments so you know where you had your instruments. The tape is just a guide so you can get everything back to where it was.
The perk to being the opening band is that you get to leave your equipment on stage and just come out and play. Direct support bands will have to come out and do a quick line-check to make sure everything is still working.
Performing A SoundCheck
If you’ve never performed a soundcheck, the most important thing is to get on stage and get off. Make sure your gear is working and then get off the stage. This is not a time to prep and remember your parts, that should have been done in rehearsal.
If you are the drummer, you may be asked to share your drums. When checking your drums, go slow. This is not the time to show off and play like a madman. Go through your check slowly and when asked to hit certain drums, hit them slowly.
Pro Tip – If you are asking these kinds of questions, I would recommend checking out my article on band managers as I think having one is extremely vital for newer bands.