Outdoor gigs are lively, engaging, and some of the best opportunities to attract more fans. But as every gig environment comes with a unique set of challenges, an open air performance is an animal of its own. It’s crucial to be properly prepared and maintain good communication with your client. Here are a few things you’ll need to discuss prior to the event.
Mother Nature is a fickle lady you’ll want to keep your eye on. Because this element is completely out of your control, you’ll need to check the forecast well in advance and all the way up to the day of the event. Include a plan for inclement weather in your booking agreement that clearly outlines what is to be expected in these cases. Whether it’s an alternative venue or rescheduling the event altogether, make sure you and your client agree to the specifics.
If there is a performance stage at the event, make sure it’s covered. A covered stage not only protects against rain, but it keeps the equipment and performers cool and out of direct sunlight. Stay hydrated, take advantage of the break times you’ve discussed with your client, and keep extra gear with you for unexpected hiccups.
Always make sure your power needs are communicated with your client in advance. Getting power may be as simple as running a few extension cords, but be sure to ask the important questions to make the event organizer aware of any details that might have been overlooked.
- Will a safety-certified power supply be provided close to the performance area?
- If power is supplied by a generator, will it be located at a distance far enough away as to not affect the performance?
- What limitations exist regarding the running of cables within the site?
- Will a PA system be available or provided by the talent?
At every gig, you’ll want to bring extra gear, but outdoor gigs make it necessary to bring things that are not ordinarily needed. We spoke to Corey Johnson—lead singer of Brookline Station, one of the most talented and dynamic bands in the Midwest—and, as a seasoned performer, he offered a few tips:
- Tarps. We’ve been caught in the rain and tarps have been gear/life savers.
- Extension cords. It’s typical that we have to stretch our reach when playing outside.
- Power generator. This can also be a big help if you’re playing where you’re not in proximity to a building or power source.
- Drum rug. This helps prevent our kit from “crawling” on a slippery surface.
- Water for hydration. (This is not always something the booking party remembers.)
- Oh, and sunscreen. We’ve found out the hard way through awkwardly shaped sunburns (underside of left forearm and top side of right forearm), from playing guitar in 3 hours of afternoon sun.
City or area restrictions
When performing or planning outdoor gigs, be aware of any local sound ordinances. Many communities have a specific time of the day when the sound should stop, and a certain decibel level that the noise should not exceed. Make sure the client has contacted the appropriate community offices for rules and information according to their local guidelines. You don’t want to run into an issue that prevents you from being paid for a full set.
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