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Dear Indie Rock Musician,

A Letter From the Sound Crew 

Dear Indie Rock Musician,

It has come to our attention that we will be working your show at our venue.  This letter is to identify the  preparations we have made, in order to minimize any responsibilities on your part.

Arrival/Sound Check

The info we sent you, which I'm sure you have read in its entirety, states that we will provide a line check at 7pm, doors are at 8pm.  Please pay no attention to this.  Arrival is at whatever time your individual band members desire.  You may want to have your drummer (and drum kit) saunter in at 7:45, and we will see how much fun we can have loading the stage back line after guitar amps, mics, and cables are all over the stage.

Guitarists, place your Fender Twin or Mesa Combo flat on the stage, pointed directly at the audience (and the back of your legs).
Turning it up as loud as it will go will ensure that the sound man has that much less work to do.
As long as everyone just hears your amp, and everything else is drowned out anyway, there will be no point in wasting any effort on mixing the front-of-house sound.  Should you become bored, please entertain yourself, us, and any others in earshot of the bar by drilling strange Buckethead-style scale runs or obnoxious Bonzo-style drum fills, continuously and as loudly as possible.  Please do not concern yourself about the possible need for verbal communication, or even thought, by any of the crew or musicians, once you have your instrument set up enough to make noise.  This is encouraged throughout sound check and while patrons are at the door, considering whether or not to pay the door fee.


Please be certain that when showtime arrives, at least one member of your band is nowhere to be found.  Once this has been established, you should use the mic like a department store paging system, and make a big show of calling him/her to the stage repeatedly.  The fact that you basically require a full time babysitter for each member of the band is cute, and makes the band more "accessible" to the audience.

Immediately after the first song begins, stop the song and point out that you "can't hear anything" in the monitor.  We will simply turn "it" up, and begin gauging the practical performance of our monitor equipment, as it attempts to compete with the stage volume of two guitar amps that are cranked to 11.  A monitor system that is operating at the verge of feedback provides much needed stress and exercise for our sound engineers.  Also, having adequate stage volume will ensure that we don't have to overtax our amplification system, as in actually needing it at all.

During Performance

A lesson in dynamics: play the parts of the song you like really loud, and the parts you don't really care about softly.  After every song, take time to drink, privately sidebar with each other on how the last song went, etc.
If you've never done it before, this is a great time for you to try your hand at stand up comedy.  
You can speak into the mics all at once. We have audiences with an uncanny ability to pick out a single conversant in a flood of 4 people talking at them at the same time.

When you're done talking, you may be inspired to start the process of tuning your guitar.  Don't forget the crowd's favorite: yell to your buddy, or better yet, indicate to the general audience, that you need another drink.  It's their duty to keep your drink glass full the whole time you are on stage.  I'm sure some guy who just walked in off the street will plop down a $10 bill to buy you a Martini, and then walk in front of a gaping audience to bring it to you.  It's the least he can do for someone who is providing him such high quality entertainment.

There comes a time when every band has to start the next song!  Click down on your stomp box or pedal board, and load up the next song's settings.  A great way to provide musical variety is to have a completely different volume setting for each of your guitar patches.  No worries, the sound engineer has nothing better to do than happily ride your fader all night long, since everything else is going so smoothly.


The break is a time for you to get some props for your hard work.  Hang out with the girl/guy in the corner and let her/him know that you're in the band.  What's that, you sound good, but the vocals could be louder?  Our sound engineer welcomes second hand information about what's wrong with the sound, and especially  some opinions about what he should do to improve it.

Break time is specified as 15 minutes, but feel free to jump back on stage 40 or so minutes later.  Don't worry that your show is already almost an hour behind schedule because of how late you started, and how long it took you to get through your first set (which was only 7 songs).

Again, don't bother to get your drink before you go actually go on.  You can always page out for someone to bring you one during the set.

Please wait until everyone else is back on the stage and ready to go before you begin tuning your instrument.  Waiting as long as possible reduces the window of opportunity for it to go out of tune.  The bar patrons are happy to have paid the door, basically just to stand in your presence and listen to set break music all night.

After the Performance

When you are wrapping up, be sure to announce over our PA that you are playing at [competing venue down the street] next Friday night, and that everyone had better be there.  This is brings legitimacy to the venue who will be paying you later, as it shows the audience how much of a commodity your band is.  Anyway, the windfall profits they undoubtedly got from your massive fan base tonight will surely be enough to tide them over for several weeks.

Encores are welcome and encouraged, especially when there are 2 more bands who are supposed to be on after you.  At this point, all the people who came to see the next band, who was supposed to start almost 1½ hours ago, have now left anyway.  Also, you wouldn't want to disappoint the your two stoner friends (now the only patrons left in the bar), who are standing at the foot of the stage and yelling "WOOOO! ENCORE!".  (Edit: Don't forget to point out the fact that you'll be doing this "even though there is basically no one left", in case anyone watching hadn't noticed, or stupidly thought they were worth performing for.) 

When you are done playing, don't be in a rush to get your stuff off the stage.  Hang out, have a drink, and ask the closest bartender or waitress when you are going to get paid.  That's far more important than our schedule.  When packing your amps and stuff up, set all your (now full) drinks right on the stage, where they will be kicked over or leg swept by a mic cable.  We don't care about a few beers spilling on our equipment.  Also, feel free to leave your piles of empty glasses, broken strings/drum sticks/picks, and dead 9V batteries on the stage.  We have a designated person who will remove these items when you have left.

If you follow the guidelines of this letter, you can be guaranteed that the decision about whether to hire your band again in the future will be much more expeditious.

The Crew


Steve said…
So funny, you need to turn it into a movie,
Colin Ryan said…
I love this. It's funny, and it's a window into a world I didn't know much about, but now feel like I do...
Scott McGrath said…
Thanks guys! It felt good to blow off some steam. I hope you had as good a time reading it as I did writing it. Feel free to share it with your indie rock musician friends if they need a hint.

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