Yesterday, I went and saw a great band called Darling play over at Don Hills in Lower Manhattan. They played an awesome set, and afterward I was saying hello to friends, and noticed the live show equivalent to talking while chewing a steak: the drummer didn’t put together any of his drum set BEFORE he got on stage!
I haven’t been to many shows where the promoter does not want to keep setup time to a minimum. At this particular show, start time was 5:15 PM and bands were to be playing on into the night. That makes this a particularly high crime. I began to realize we had gotten in 20 minutes of conversation before this drummer was even moving to the cymbals he had over the floor tom. The bass player was now enjoying this free time to show off all the Primus songs he knew and all the while the soundman had flames coming out of his ears. So while you may be thinking, “who cares?” I will explain why this is unacceptable.
Consider the following people:
1. The Promoter: Most promoters keep the schedule tight; they usually have a curfew or contractual obligations to fill regarding things like when the show needs to be done or the headliner goes on. By annoying this person, you risk the chance of not playing a show for this promoter again and your name being trashed for being unprofessional.
2. The Soundman: This person usually has to manage the stage and if they get yelled at for things taking too long, he/she is not going to care about how you sound and curse your band to high hell around town.
3. The Other Bands: Such behavior can lead to other bands having to shorten their sets or not even play. A few minutes can be a big difference. This can quickly lead to grudges and missed opportunities for your band.
4. Your Band: If you mess things up for everyone there is a good chance that your band will never let you hear the end of it. Bands love ripping each other up, and don’t think they won’t make you pay.
So now that you know why NOT to do it, here is what you should do:
1. Get all your hardware exploded and set as right as you can without hitting the drums, if you need to tweak it a little on stage it is no big deal.
2. Set up your drums all the way: mount toms, get your bass drum pedal on, snare in stand, cymbals on the stands, etc.
3. Make sure by “eyeing it” that you are ready to play, but whatever you do, if another band is playing, even if it is between songs, DO NOT HIT THE DRUMS TILL THEY ARE ON STAGE!
Enjoy your next show as a much more polite (and hopefully productive) member of band society.
photo by flickr user Chris Barber