First Band Gig? Here are Five Things to Consider
Your band has practiced for months and you’re ready to play in front of a live audience. But you can’t get a pro sound without the right equipment. Here are five things to think about to make your first gig run smoothly.
1. Make a sound investment
So, your guitarist has his beloved Marshall stack, the drummer’s splashed out on new skins, the singer’s got her own SM58. Everyone’s got their own thing sussed, but what about the PA? As a band, owning your own speakers puts you in control of your overall sound. Using powered speakers such as the Alto Truesonic series also means you don’t need to lug around a power amp. If you own your own speakers, your sound will remain consistent and you won’t be relying on whatever cheesy gear the pub owner unearths from the back room.
2. Mix it up
You’ll also need a mixer to make sure you’re properly in control of what the audience hears. One thing to look for in a mixer is headroom. That’s the capacity of the mixer to handle multiple, high-level signals and send them cleanly to the speakers. Cheap mixers have low headroom and that equals distortion (but not the good kind). Alto’s Live802 mixer has a high headroom, low noise mic preamp. It’s even got compression built into two of its eight channels. A big bonus of the Alto mixer is a USB connection, so you can send a sub-mix to a computer and record yourselves. Need more channels? Try the 12, 16 or 24 channel versions.
3. Let there be light
Nothing will kill your band’s carefully crafted vibe like that single neon tube provided for “stage lighting”. Check out the possibilities of creating a truly inspiring lighting environment with the new range of inexpensive LED lighting rigs. Like having the right speakers and mixer, buying professional lights that you can get up in a few minutes will give you more control over what your audience experiences.
4. What just happened?
Metallica famously stage-managed the destruction of their stage set – complete with burning technician – but the fact is your first gig will probably not be perfect. Be prepared to think on your feet. If one of your stomp boxes dies, don’t fiddle with it – take it out of the chain. If you break a string, pick up that second guitar you have ready beside your amp. There is one there, right? If you’ve only ever played in your rehearsal space, you’ll be surprised how different a real gig is and how much more energy you need to put into it. A towel to wipe the sweat off your face and hands, a spare T-shirt, bottled water, a spare guitar lead – make yourself a check list and keep it with your gear so you see it when you head out.
5. Smile – you’re in showbiz!
OK, the foldback mix is all wrong, your amp sounds like it’s a mile away and the kick drum is all you can hear… What you don’t do is scowl and make sure everyone knows how badly things are going. Unless you’re playing covers, no one knows your music yet anyway, right? So if you forget the words or leave out the middle eight, don’t sweat it. Keep playing, keep smiling, and remember, every gig is a learning experience. Rock on!