Band competitions can be a great way to get some stage experience and to get your music in front of a crowd. I’ve had the pleasure a few times of stage managing a band competition. The last one in particular was a great experience. There was some great young talent on display playing some really good original music. From my point of view there were a few simple things that some of the bands could have done to make it easier on themselves. These things all come back to being a bit organised. You only have a very limited time to get on the stage and get ready to play. Here are a few tips to give yourself the best chance in band competitions.
- Get there early enough to get setup without stressing. You need to be at your best when performing and arriving late won’t help.
- Be prepared to help another band out with a lift with equipment or even a loan of an instrument if needed. You never know when you will be in the same position. The guy you loan your bass to will remember you when he needs a support band too.
- Remember that these things are as much about making contacts as anything else. Spread yourself around and introduce yourself to the other bands, the promoter, the sound man and even the punters. It’s called “networking” and it works.
- If you have CD’s etc to sell, take them. You just never know who will part with a few dollars if you impress them.
- Set up and pack up OFF Stage. Just grab your gear and go. Quick changeovers will win you friends with the crew and will mean that you get on stage in a non-stressed mood.
- Only take the bare minimum of effects pedals. If they are not in a case then screw or tape them to a piece of wood and pre-wire them. Don’t rock up with a bag full of pedals you don’t really need.
- Have a spare power supply/battery for your pedals.
- Have spare strings. Even bass strings break!
- Have a spare guitar lead. They break at the worst possible moment. Put it somewhere you can find it quickly. Make sure your leads are rolled nicely and not just a ball of spaghetti in your bag.
- Take enough power boards and extension leads to plug all your stuff in. Don’t assume that the power outlet will be anywhere near your amp or that it will have enough outlets. Label your power leads and power boards so they don’t get mixed up with the ones from the production company.
- If stage space allows, stack your amps on the stage in reverse playing order. IE last band at the back, first band at the front. This means less gear to get on during changeovers.
- Tune up BEFORE you go on, not on stage during the first minute of your performance.
- Quite often there is a communal drum kit to save time. Check with the organiser in advance. Sometimes they will let you use your own pedals, snare and cymbals. If this is the case, have them setup side of and ready to throw on quickly. Don’t set up on stage!
- Take spare sticks and have them where you can find them quickly. Invest in a stick bag.
- Don’t worry about taking spare skins, you won’t have time to change them. Take a whole spare snare if you can get your hands on one from a friend. On a stand is even better.
- If you change the setup of the communal kit then put it back how it was when you have finished.
- If you are allowed to take your own kit, take the bare minimum.
- If you are a left-handed, singing drummer with a 15 piece kit and three bass drums then have the courtesy of contacting the sound people in advance to discuss it.
The main thing is to be a bit prepared and a bit organised. Experience helps too folks. Enter a few comps and you will learn from the experience. You might even win a prize or a few more punters along the way.