Riders for small bands?

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by meowfaceman, Jan 24, 2017.

  1. meowfaceman

    meowfaceman SS.org Regular

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    Hey all. So I've posted on here a few times regarding in ear setups. That's more or less worked out (there are always tweaks), but I've got a question about riders.

    The situation is this: we've got 2 guitars, 2 violins, bass, keys, drums, 4 vocals. I've got labeled XLR lines for everything except drums and vocals. We have mic splitters for the 4 vocals and we rely on the mic bleed for drum monitoring, which is fine for the venues we typically play + we use clicks. The band sound is ridiculously dense (example), so appropriate monitoring is the difference between us sounding like crap and us sounding good.

    I've got this about as streamlined as I can get it, but unless we can backline, a 15 minute changeover is basically impossible. I've been recently debating the idea of having a rider that requires a backline/soundcheck (or at least a backline), but I've got a suspicion that, as a local band, nobody's going to be terribly interested in reading/accommodating us. Even worse, I'm afraid it'll put promoters/venues off. Is this something that bands at our level typically do, or is the answer just to suck it up and work with what we've got?
     
  2. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I don't know your local scene, or how you fit into it, but unless you've got the reputation and the draw to justify it, I can't imagine a lot of places being all that interested in accommodating the demands of any ol' band that asks for it. If I was promoting a show, I'd just skip and find another band that doesn't demand anything. Note the key word "demand" though.

    I think the trick is in how you present it - if you "make demands", I'd say no right away. If you were to present it as a "hey, we want to see if it's possible for us to provide a backline and get a soundcheck, and in exchange we obviously don't mind the other bands use our cabs and stuff, so that all the changeovers are quick for everyone", then maybe that's something people would be more open to. If you're the headliner and you share gear with everyone, then yeh, sure, have a soundcheck. It's a give and take. But also, you gatta be willing to just do without, and without making a fuss about it, cause sometimes it just doesn't make any sense to do things your way. Gatta be pro about it. If you asked, I said no, and you made a scene about it, I'd never book you again. And promoters talk to eachother. Some bands reputations make it to other cities before they do.

    That being said, I dig the example track. Just be a pro about it, and you'll be fine.
     
  3. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    Unless you're a guaranteed draw headliner, you're probably going to piss off more promoters and bands than help yourself out. Your best bet would be to figure out a way to get your set-up time down to a reasonable amount, or be prepared to open every show. Having played with a touring act who, on two occasions, spent almost 40 minutes setting up for headline gigs, I can say that anything over 15-20 minutes of changeover is going to drive off people who might have been curious but had not heard you before. And you're going to piss off the band after you with your extended tear down time.
     
  4. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Be up front with how long your band takes to set up and tear down, and the amount of mics ideally required, at the beginning of every show you book. No rider involved: make sure the booking agent knows how many instruments are in your band.

    Sometimes you get crappy monitor mixes. Multiply that by 100% if you're in an unknown band.
     
  5. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    Until you gather enough of a following ($ for clubs) you may be best serve by doing opening slots until you can negotiate terms more to your favor.

    At least then, the setup is done far earlier that gig time.
    When your gig is over, strip from stage & break down for packing the load out offstage.

    This is presuming, said crappy club can even accommodate in ear mixes. There are a lot of them that are only running wedges with 2 monitor mixes.
    This is where communication with promote/venue in advance can pay off well come gig time.

    As a strong opener with a good following, your may be able to get people into the club earlier in the evening than those that show up right before the 2nd, 3rd, or headlining act, which may pay off well for the club in drink revenues.
     
  6. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Not to mention that the first band of the night usually get a soundcheck as opposed to just a line check.
     
  7. meowfaceman

    meowfaceman SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, had a feeling. Good thing to gut check though, so I appreciate the feedback all. The good thing about this feedback is that we basically don't need any monitoring from FOH -- we handle all this ourselves via mic splits and whatnot, so this is setup time that we can avoid.

    To backpedal somewhat on my self-analysis, the event that prompted this was a fest that had several shared gear changes (first 4 bands shared X gear, next 4 shared Y, etc.) and we had to setup during a gear change. Additionally the guy running sound had no stage hands, so the combination of us being very different (lots of extra lines) plus all the chaos added up. Just got me thinking.

    In general, the problems seem to be wiring related on FOH's end than it seems to be on ours, i.e. we hand a bundle of XLR cables to FOH and by the time they're done wiring things, so I'd love to be able to smooth things out. If we can backline we're basically fine, and teardown is easy enough as well, so sounds like I just need to be more pushy about backlining at the start of gigs.
     
  8. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    Rather than handing them a bunch of XLR fanout, maybe have everything hook up to a custom made rack mount connection box for FOH. Basically, your own snake box in a rack.

    If you have room side stage, you could also consider using that space to fire your cabs in like side fills, and eliminate or greatly reduce your back line. I did this the last year that I toured back in '01/02 & it took loads of time off of our change up.
    I went from 2 4x12's on stage to a 2x12 firing as a side fills on each side.

    Drums were then our single largest band component on the stage itself.
     
  9. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Every situation is different.

    Most events are going to have a sound engineer totally unaffiliated with the promoter, so, you could get your foot in the door with the promoter, tell them nothing about how long it takes to set up and soundcheck, get to the gig, piss everyone off, and play, wow the crowd, and so forth. Alternatively, you could tell the promoter that you take X mins to set up, and you need Y and Z, and the promoter will say "sure thing!" and not even be anywhere in sight when you go to set up and have passed along 0% of your message, so that the end result is the same.

    Maybe I'm jaded and have too little faith in people, but, having worked as a sound engineer for many of these sorts of small venue many band shows, as well as having played at several of them, it's just what I run into. Promoters generally don't give much more than half a f*ck about how much gear you have or how long it takes to set up and tear down. Usually, they say a band takes X amount of time to set up, so you have exactly X amount of time. If your set up is longer than average, oh well...

    So, maybe you could go for the first slot at shows like that, as others suggested, because you'll get extra set up time and a sound check. If that doesn't work out, just plan to take a little bite out of your set time. It's not ideal, but I see lots of bands doing stuff like that. Actually, there is a band, a three piece, locally, who insist on being first, because they all instrument jump and their setup is ridiculously complex...

    Anyway, I wouldn't let these things put you off, but I don't think a rider or a list of demands is going to go over well.
     
  10. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Yeah, I think there's a valid point there. A good promoter should be able to arrange things so that the sound guy isn't overwhelmed, and that could mean communicating with him about the requirements of the show early on, as well as not throwing any surprises at him mid show, but that all falls on the promoter, IMO. Realistically the sound guy doesn't care about the schedule, he just takes what's thrown at him and does his best with it.

    Any time I've done sound and got really frustrated, it was due to the event organizers dropping the ball, or everyone involved just having mixed or horribly wrong expectations for the event.
     
  11. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    Until you're either

    A) A well-established act with a strong draw
    or
    B) able to come up with a more compact/simpler setup like the master rack/snake unit TonyFlyingSquirrel mentioned

    then stick to playing first. Just be up front with promoters and say that you've got a lot of gear and will need more time to set up than your average band.

    Also: start a group conversation via Facebook (or similar) with a representative from each band and offer to backline your gear for everyone well in advance of the show. Don't tell them why unless they ask. If the other bands aren't total control freaks then you'll come out looking like the heroes who saved everyone else from having to drag their cabinets (and maybe even their drum kits) across town. Also comes with the added bonus of getting to the venue first so you can stake our the best merch booth situation and take the very important (and oft-overlooked) opportunity to meet+greet+shake hands with the bar staff, promoter, sound tech and other bands before things get too hectic.
     
  12. meowfaceman

    meowfaceman SS.org Regular

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    We actually do have a rack like you're suggesting. More or less a band in two racks -- one devoted to amp DIs and such with an Art S8 split into a labeled 30 foot XLR snake. The two racks are connected via Ethercon. We don't even really need amps, TBH. Pictures below:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    AFAICT, this is about the best way to do it (minor tweaks, of course), but no matter what there always seems to be some screw up that prevents things from going smoothly. I basically lug the gear onto stage, hook everything up, but usually due to the amount of lines I have to give the soundcheck ends up being something of a mess.

    bostjan's experience mirrors mine here. I usually try to prewarn promoters about all this with an input list, stage layouts, etc., but so far I'm just not getting a ton of luck with that info being passed down. We did a tour not too long ago, I passed along our input list to the booking guys, and not one sound guy had actually seen this input list before we got there. Even locally there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest on this sort of thing.

    Like I said, we're typically fine so long as I can just deposit/open the racks on stage as a backline, even if we're not opening, so I'm thinking I've got to be more insistent on that. I'll also note that I tend to overthink things, so maybe this is less of a problem than I think it is. I appreciate all the feedback, interesting points.
     
  13. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    Damn son, that's quite a setup. Makes me dizzy just looking at it! Glad you've got everything in a couple boxes though.

    In my experience, the only thing you can rely on promoters to do is show up and open the doors and collect the money. And even then you might be disappointed. I'd rather talk directly to the bands or the sound tech if you can get their contact info.

    Cool band btw. Used to listen to lots of this style when I was in high school. Memories of Ensiferum, Moonsorrow and Heidevolk.
     
  14. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    Fine rig, now we're talking!
     
  15. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    I have a buddy that gigged with a digital mixer for ages and just gave the soundguy a main out. Maybe you can streamline a lot of that stuff and/or bring your own engineer to assist the club's engineer. You can't expect big wait for stage setup though so do your best on that.

    Also an option is to just submix on a stage mixer the difficult instruments like violins or whatever is having problems and present that as a submix to the engineer.

    Listening to your songs, I think you just need more rehearsals and soundchecks be damned. Your material doesn't really doesn't sound that complex. Concentrate on the main parts of the band first, 1st fiddle and main vocals are probably most important but you can invest in your own stage mixer and give the drummer a feed off that on a small stage monitor or headphones.

    It sounds to me like you guys just need more gigs under the belt, after a while the monitoring system became a non issue, I honestly couldn't care less what I got from that as long as I could hear the kick/snare I could lock in and do my show with no issues. It is more of an issue for vocals to be on pitch but then you can request stage vocal mix in your monitors.

    There are splitter snakes as well so if you go with wireless monitoring for your stage you can write down all settings on your own mixer and give the soundguy a split snake signal with something like this:
    https://www.amazon.com/Seismic-Audi...7011&sr=1-2&keywords=recording+snake+splitter
     
  16. Blasphemer

    Blasphemer Bird Law expert

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    As a FOH engineer, I usually hate it when bands just give me L+R. There's essentially no control over the mix, and it pretty much never goes as well as planned. The other night I had a band that did this, and while their in-song mix was OK, when they were talking between sets, I absolutely couldn't get it loud enough for the crowd to hear, even with the fader at +10dB.

    Honestly, the best thing I think you could do is to invest in a few more things (some of which you may already have)

    1. Router
    2. iPad
    3. Your own vocal Mics, drum mics, and accompanying XLR. Glenn Fricker did a review of these drum mics, and they're more than useable.
    4. Snake with as many inputs as required, and at least 2 returns

    It may take some rack reconfiguring and additional money, but if you get all of your inputs onto the snake, you can go about business as usual in terms of your IEM setup with the addition of the drum mics, but use the main L+R on your X32 and patch those into the FOH system. Have him leave your two faders on his console at unity, give the sound guy the ipad and tell him to mix on that. Just be sure to tell him to not mess with the Auxes that your IEMs are using unless he's asked to. That or hire your own engineer, although that may not be possible money wise.

    This could also be a little bit easier with the drum mics and such if you get something like the Kelly Shu internal mount for the kick, and then use clip on mics for the snare and toms. Those could be marked for positioning, and then clipped on when the kit is being built offstage. As you said, on small stages, 4 vocal lines are more than enough to compensate for OHs. Make an XLR snake for each part of the stage, EG one for drums, one for downstage, one for bass/guitar, one for violins. Setup would be pretty quick once you practiced it a little bit.

    It may seem like a bit of a stretch to achieve, but if you could find a way to get the money for it together, that'd be what I'd want to receive from you guys as a FOH engineer. If you have more questions and think this would be a viable option, I'm totally down to answer questions and talk it over with you :yesway:
     

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