5 Terms Your Band Needs To Be Familiar With This Festival Season.
So you’ve made it on the bill of a few festivals with year. Good job! As many of you already know, festival gigs are a completely a different animal. Set length’s are usually way shorter ( 20 minutes to 1 hour), sound checks are short, performance schedules are usually down to the minute. You have FOH guys 100ft away, you have a monitor op at side stage, people are rattling off questions & orders that you never hear at your bars gigs. It can be a make for break moment for you and your band. Will you leave the impression that you are a seasoned pro or will you not have a clue and have the production team eye rolling and mentally signing off.
Hopefully this article will help you be prepared to get on those large festival stages and have a clue to what’s going on. Here is a list of terminology your band must know to have a successful festival season.
- FOH – This stands for Front Of House. It really means “where” Engineer will be during the show but the industry has adopted these initials to refer to the person taking care of the mixing aka The Sound Guy. Other terms you’ll hear is FOH OP, Sound Tech or Audio Engineer. Bonus Pro Tip…most FOH Op don’t like to be refer’ed to as “Sound Guy”. Ask them there name & thank me later
- Stage Left, Stage Right, Down Stage, Up Stage – I’m grouping all these together because they all refer to locations on a stage. When loading your gear on and a stage manager looks over and shouts.. “Bass Amp goes stage left, upstage!”, the next few seconds lets everyone know if you have been around large stages. CLICK HERE for a diagram. The most common use of these terms are during sound check. Monitors – Festivals almost always have a dedicated Monitor OP located at the side of the stage. When it comes time to dial in your monitor mix the Monitor Op will use stage placement when asking musicians to play. I.E. ….and usually without looking up he will call out.. “stage right guitar!” and then you play. Your guitarist need to know if they are living on stage right or left.
- Input List – An input list is a list of all the inputs your band needs to be mic’d up and ready to play. Nothing too fancy just a simple pdf of all your instruments listed with either mic or D.I. listed beside of them. Of course you can get pretty detailed with this but really the FOH just needs to know our band size, number of vocals etc. This is something that usually gets asked of you prior to showing up I’ve seen lots of times carrying are hard copy on you makes your life super easy when the FOH or Stage Managers needs one fast.
- Staging Area – This is a term used for the area usually beside or behind the stage where your band gets ready to go on. Most of the time this is where you get your pedal boards ready, if you have to use your own drums this is where your drummer needs to start putting pieces of his kit together. The more you have in place before you actually take the stage the smoother your setup will be keeping your time for playing not setting up gear.
- Backline – Backline is the term used when the festival production provides guitar amps, bass amps, drums etc. This is a life saver when festivals have back to back bands all day with just minutes between them. Drummers..even though the festival says they provide drums this almost always mean kick, rack toms, floors and stands only. Most production companies expect you to bring cymbals, snare and throne. It’s always good to bring them either way. You never know when a backline company brings less than high quality cymbals or the band before you destroys the crashes. It shouldn’t even have to be mentioned but always bring your own sticks.
I have been involved in festivals either as a musician or as production since the 90’s. Fortunately I survived and all the horror stories out there are true. It was trial by fire for me but hopefully this list will help you get to a festival and take command of the stage like a seasoned pro (even if it’s your first time).
If you would like help getting your band to the next level feel free to contact us anytime.
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