Author Topic: Tips - Music Festival  (Read 3626 times)

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Tips - Music Festival
« on: Mar 10, 2007, 04:14 pm »
Hi guys,

I have my biggest challenge coming up in the summer. I'm stage managing for an outdoor Music festival...we should have 10,000 people attending over 2 days.

Mac Calder

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Re: Tips - Music Festival
« Reply #1 on: Mar 10, 2007, 06:52 pm »
Never stage managed a music festival, but I have worked on them in other capacities. You really need to find out if you are stage managing in the sense of a theatre stage manager (ie pulling all technical elements together and organising everyone) or more of a manager of the stage crews. Anyway....

Organisation is key.

Unlike theatre, sound plays a much larger part in music festivals (duh...) than lights, however as a general rule, both are much larger than your standard theatre rigs (West End/Broadway excepted).

Unless your festival is controlled by sound nazis (very unlikely) every band will have different pieces of equipment used for their set. And it is not just "different guitars", but often different drums, different amplifiers, different microphones, different effects pedals, different monitor arrangement... everything.

Basically, you need to know what each band wants for their set, you need to talk to your sound techs (you will probably have a monitor engineer and a FOH engineer) about which channels things will be on, and you need to work out how you are going to get everything off stage, and the new set on stage within fairly strict time frames - no more than a few minutes usually.

Then you have people management - if you have 10 bands, with an average band size of 5 people, that is 50 people. If this is an outside event, that will mean they will probably be located off site, so you need runners, you need to guess how long it will take to get the band backstage and how long it will take them to get ready once there.

Communication is another big thing. There are scores of people over a large area - you need to know that they either know their jobs well enough that they can make their own decisions, or that you can contact them to tell them what to do in special situations.

The major thing to remember, I suppose, is that you do not have the rehearsal time that theatre usually provides. Chances are your mix engineers and you LX engineer will be used to this sort of situation, which helps, however you need to be keeping everything moving - sound checks, lighting checks... Remember, these are not times for the bands to practice their sets, they are to provide the engineers with a sample to allow them to present the bands in a good light. Get them on, and when the engineers tell you the mixes are right, get them off. Bang, Bang, Bang.

« Last Edit: Mar 10, 2007, 06:54 pm by Mac Calder »


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Re: Tips - Music Festival
« Reply #2 on: Mar 18, 2007, 10:11 pm »
Find out if bands are scheduled to start at specific times, and if so, how much of a priority it is for you to keep them running on time.  Part of that is asking the producers how long each band is supposed to play, and figuring out how to carve out some turn-around time to set up the stage for the next group.  I was SM during an outdoor festival where a lot of groups (small ones, thankfully) were performing, and the producers had told them they’d have an hour each.  But there was no time built in between groups, so we were destined to run behind schedule (if the noon group ended exactly at 1pm, and we needed 5-10 minutes to reset the stage, the 1pm group couldn't start until 1:10pm, and if they played for an hour…you get the picture).  When we realized what was happening, we talked to the upcoming performers before they went onstage, and told them they'd need to reduce their set by a few minutes to keep us running on time. 

Another important aspect is coordination with the crew.  I’m used to being hands-on, helping to move chairs and microphones, whatever else might need doing.  But at one festival, it turned out that the two sound guys were much happier doing that on their own; all they wanted me to do was get the performers off the stage ASAP, and send the next group on when the stage was set for them.  At another festival, we had an IATSE crew, so I wasn't allowed to move anything, and was again mainly needed to welcome and usher out the performers.  So definitely talk with sound and other crew about what they need from you; they’re probably not festival rookies, so if they tell you they don't need another body on the stage between groups, take their word for it and stay out from under foot. 

If you'll be outdoors, know ahead of time what the rain plan is; how to keep equipment and people protected, and who will call off the show if needed (you're call?  The bands'?  The producer?). 
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)