For seasoned bands, playing live is nothing new. They've performed in all sorts of venues, from basements to arenas, and have learned how to adapt their show to any size room. But for newer bands, understanding how to play a venue can be the difference between a good show and a great show.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of any venue, no matter the size:
1. Avoid Surprises at the Venue
The band's tour manager must go through the DOS and venue rules that are in the advance with the artist so there are no surprises upon arrival. This also goes for the band's techs. If there are any specific sound or stage requirements like hanging a backdrop, they need to be aware of them in advance so they can be prepared.
2. Leave Weapons On the Bus
This should be obvious, but unfortunately, it's not. Many venues have a strict no-weapons policy, and even if they don't, it's just not worth the risk of bringing one in. Even if it looks cool in a picture, it's not appropriate to bring a weapon of any kind into a venue.
3. Always Carry Tour Credentials
Keep your tour credentials on you at all times to avoid the venue staff getting confused. If it's a big show or an outdoor festival, you don't want to have to explain to the venue staff who you are. Make it easy on them and you by keeping your tour laminate on you.
4. Establish Front & Back Door Policies
Communicate with venue staff on front and back door policies during the show so there is no conflict when getting searched upon arrival. If the venue has a specific policy for what they will and will not allow in, make sure the band staff is aware of it.
5. Complete Show Advance in a Timely Fashion
This is important for two reasons: first, because you want to make sure the venue staff is prepared for your show, and second, because you don't want any last-minute surprises. The sooner you can get the advance done, the better.
6. Submit the Guest List in Advance
Have a guest list ready to submit as soon as the advance is done. This will avoid any confusion or last-minute additions. If you wait until the day of the show, chances are good that someone will be left off.
7. Coordinate Load Out Procedures
When your set is done, you need to get your gear off the stage as quickly as possible to allow for a smooth show and for the next band to get ready. Coordinate with the venue staff on how load out will work so there are no surprises.
8. Avoid Confusion After the Show
When the show is over, the venue staff is eager to end the night and your band is likely eager to call it a night. Advance support settlement contacts so there’s no confusion at the end of the night. Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what so there are no mix-ups.
9. Respect the Venue's Rules
This should go without saying, but it's important to respect the venue's rules. If they say no smoking, then don't smoke. If they say no alcohol, then don't drink. It's a simple courtesy and will go a long way in making sure you're welcome back.
10. Leave the Venue Better Than You Found It
This is the golden rule of venues: leave the place better than you found it. If you see trash on the floor, pick it up. If a piece of equipment is broken, let the staff know. A little bit of effort goes a long way in making sure the venue is happy to have you back.
Following these tips will help you make the most of any venue, no matter the size. With a little bit of planning and effort, you can ensure that your show is a success. And before you hit the road, make sure you’re stocked up on merch and have accessories to enhance your stage presence.