LSR Series Chapter 22 – Setting the Stage

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Live Sound Reinforcement Series, Uncategorized
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While performing with my last cover band, Crash Landing, we played local clubs, festivals and private parties.  In this picture of a live set up, you will see a fairly standard rock/blues/country/alternative/jazz band stage arrangement;  drums center rear, Lead Vocalist center front.  Keys (and/or rhythm guitar) on the left as you look at the stage and the lead guitar player on the right.  In smaller clubs the keyboards get crunched back in the corner next to the drummer……  no sour grapes here!  Bass player close to the drummer. (either side doesn’t really matter)  In reality, most bands will not practice in this configuration, but this is the way most of us play out live and we are quite used to it.  In our case, Crash Landing has a number of vocalists.  All but the drummer sings in this band.  The bass player takes front stage position and sings a number of lead vocals.  So does the guitar player.  You can see where the microphone stands are placed for the vocalists.  Close up pictures later in this series will show other microphone positions for the instruments.  These are good places to start.  If you have limited time or setting up for a number of bands in an evening, you go with the standard format and shape the sound from the board as much as possible.  Knowing or having experience doing the quick set-up successfully a few times you will see the standard configuration and mic placements work well for the vast majority of performances.

We can also see the positioning of the vocal stage monitors across the front of the stage.  There are various thoughts on how to set these up but the differences can seem minor.  For this many vocalists across the front, this spacing and direction worked fairly well.  The drummer and/or other non-vocalists might also need monitors.  (it would not be unusual for the keyboard player requiring a monitor to hear the keyboards and a vocal mix if they sing)  This stage size gives players room to breath AND hear.  When inside on a smaller stage, everything seems to collide and jumble.  Outside you can hear yourself play much better (depending on the sound engineer, of course) and at times you might actually struggle just a little to hear the other players!  Take two steps closer to them and they are plenty loud.  This should be an easier situation for a sound engineer.  If I had to do a first gig in my life as a practice run, I would want to do an outdoors gig.

Crash Landing

Comments
  1. Had no idea there was a rhyme to the reason bands were situated as they were on a stage. And now that I’ve read this, I can think back to the various concerts and such I’ve been too and see the pattern. Thanks for my something new learned today :-).

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Over the years this configuration became the standard starting position for a number of reasons, I imagine camera requirements for TV also influenced this greatly. It is always a little awkward for bands to get adjusted as we usually do not practice in this position, but that is another story LOL. You are more than welcome. I am just a curious type and I also love learning how these things are done.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, outdoor gigs are always fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Indeed. A much easier environment for the band members, the sound person and the audience, so every one feels better, it sounds better and it is easier for the sound person to hear and fix issues with the monsters in the machines!

      Like

      • Good to know…although isn’t it harder to get good sound at an outdoor venue?

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        I think the challenge comes in because of the massive PA needed for large outdoor events. To push that much sound in the open you need to have a LOT of pro gear. Powerful amps, larger speakers and much more of them! Hooking them up and running all the cables and making sure everything works properly is the challenge. In my experience, once you have the equipment needed to cover the area and everything works, it is a lot easier to make it sound good. Feedback from the stage is all but eliminated, and it is easier to isolate and fine-tune the elements that do not sound the way you want.

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      • You would know better than me. I’ve experienced bad sound in a lot of major open arenas though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        Well….. there are a lot of not-so-good sound guys out there! Add that to the ‘five bands in four hours’ and it can get a bit tricky for the engineer.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Bioman says:

    I managed and roadied for a band called “The Spectres” who yu can find on Utube, many many moons ago – going back to ’86-’88 – had a marvelous eye-opening time. We were no way as set up as you, “Primitive” was our first number.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. tom robinson says:

    I like the verb “crunched”

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      That is how I felt over the years. Especially when I also played guitar and percussion instruments. I carried almost as much equipment as the rest of the band and usually got crunched into a very small space!

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  5. Azul Zaffre says:

    I don’t think I ever paid attention to the arrangement either–I was too busy swooning…

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Well then the sound guy did a good job! We should be somewhat invisible in that if everything sounds right, the audience should not have to think about how it is done.
      When something goes wrong or the sound is not so good, you can see members in the audience looking around thinking, ‘what is going wrong?”. Every sound person will do things a little differently, but most will start with a fairly standard stage arrangement.

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  6. tracihalpin says:

    Hey Mike! That was interesting; you know I love this stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Indeed! I believe with a few good pointers you would have a blast running sound these days. Part of my success was knowing the material of each band. I knew what they were going to do and how it should sound. I anticipated what was next instead of reacting to what just happened. You have that advantage as well. You know these things instinctively. Then it is just having fun and for me, being a ‘member of the band’ rather than simply working for them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        Hey thanks! You never know…. Tell your daughter she can preorder Boxes on itunes and it comes with the song Over and Over which is about changing and digging it up and turning it over and over, like the Peter Gabriel song you told me about. Their first single will be out soon. It’s called So Alive, and John said it is about his 15 months of sobriety. He said he went from sick to being normal. I can’t wait to hear it because I know it will be real and raw and touch my soul. He has given up alcohol countless times; I hope it sticks. It runs in his family. He and his wife are trying to have a baby so he quit drinking and smoking, but once the tour starts I imagine it will be a struggle even more than it is now. I’ve always thought it must be really hard to stay sober while touring. I’m sure you have seen it all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        I am no stranger to alcohol or its attractions. I have also seen its demons. The road life is hard on everyone. There is a Beatles tune that sums it up; ‘They’ll fill you in with all the sins you see’.
        I have not seen much. I was lucky in many ways and was not exposed and tempted by the glamour and fame end of things. I just saw what it did to others.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        I bet it wasn’t pretty. The song is being released tomorrow!

        Liked by 1 person

      • midimike says:

        Very cool! Let me know what you think.

        Liked by 1 person

      • tracihalpin says:

        So Alive is fantastic! John really gets personal. He’s been doing lots of interviews and he said it’s about sobering up. He said he lived life without alcohol to help him through things, and it was really hard, but it made him realize a lot of things about his life. He bought a house in New Jersey, which he is remodeling, he turned 50 and he and his wife are trying to have a baby. I’m thinking they are moving bc he doesn’t want to raise his child in LA and her family is in Staten Island. Now I just have to find out where in Jersey….. -;). Anyway the song is great; it’s got a different sound. Both songs are different and people are loving them. I really think this album is going to bring the band back to popularity. Both songs are an anthem and the theme seems to be about starting over. He’s got a line that says, “it’s time to disconnect from the hard wire.” I think that’s about his dad; he was a bad drunk. John had to put him to bed at times. In the interview he said he couldn’t drink anymore; I’m thinking his dr told him to stop; he’s been drinking for 40 years on and off, mostly on. He almost died once; Robby had to take him to the hospital. Sorry I’m rambling I had too much coffee. How is your music doing? Are you still looking for work?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Schnauzevoll says:

    Was nice to read and definitely learned something 🙂 maybe next time when I go to see a band I will think about this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Thank you! There is usually a method to the madness and I like to learn about different things, even if I may never actually DO them LOL. Good to hear you are the same way!

      Like

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