This guest post by Heather Roonan originally appeared on the Gigsalad Blog.
Outdoor gigs have always been a popular choice for party planners. That’s even more true now as the current pandemic continues to limit our social gatherings. Open air performances can help keep you and your fans safe while still allowing them to enjoy live music and entertainment.
Every gig environment comes with a unique set of challenges, but outdoor gigs have even more considerations. It’s crucial to be properly prepared and maintain good communication with your clients. In this article, we’ll go over a few things you’ll need to discuss prior to the event.
Watch the weather
Mother Nature is a fickle lady you’ll want to keep your eye on. You have no control over the elements, so check the forecast well in advance and all the way up to the day of the outdoor event. Include a plan for inclement weather in your booking agreement that clearly outlines what to expect in these cases. Whether it’s an alternative venue or rescheduling the event altogether, make sure you and your client agree to the specifics.
Ideally the performance stage or area should be covered if possible. A covered stage not only protects against rain, but it also helps keep the equipment and performers cool and out of direct sunlight. Stay hydrated, take advantage of the break times you’ve discussed with your client, and keep extra gear with you for unexpected hiccups.
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Identify the power supply
If your act requires power, be sure those needs are communicated with your client in advance. Getting power may be as simple as running a few extension cords, but be sure to ask the important questions to make the event organizer aware of any details that might have been overlooked.
- Will a safety-certified power supply be provided close to the performance area?
- If power is supplied by a generator, will it be located at a distance far enough away as to not affect the performance?
- What limitations exist regarding the running of cables within the site?
- Will a PA system be available or provided by the talent?
Check your extra equipment
At every gig, you’ll want to bring extra gear, but outdoor gigs make it necessary to bring things that are not ordinarily needed. We spoke with some of our experienced GigSalad musicians to get a few tips for your outdoor gig checklist:
- Tarps. If you do get caught in the rain, this a quick solution for saving your equipment until you can move them to a dry place.
- Extension cords. Even if your client says they will provide them, it’s always good to have extra, long extension cords at the ready.
- Power generator. Providing a power source is often the responsibility of the client, but having a portable generator in your arsenal is a good backup plan.
- Portable fans. Not all summer heat is accompanied by a nice breeze, so it’s best to bring your own. Set up portable fans to blow directly at you and your equipment to keep everything cool and comfortable.
- Rug. For musicians especially, if you have a drum kit or any other equipment that must stay firmly planted in the same spot, having a rug to roll out can help prevent movement on slippery surfaces.
- Case of water. Staying hydrated is important for all gigs, indoor and outdoor, but if you’re performing in the heat you’ll need extra water. Your client should provide this, but it’s good to bring at least one case with you.
- Sunscreen. This one gets forgotten regularly, but after one bad burn, you won’t forget again. Save yourself the pain and just have the sunblock on hand in case you’ll be in direct sunlight.
- Hand towels/spare clothes. Sweat is often a part of any gig, but adding the heat of the sun makes it worse. Have towels with you for cleaning yourself up or even a spare change of clothes. Bonus tip: Don’t perform in the same clothes you set up in!
Research city or area restrictions
When performing or planning outdoor gigs, be aware of any local sound ordinances. Many communities have a specific time of the day when the sound should stop, and a certain decibel level that the noise should not exceed. Make sure the client has contacted the appropriate community offices for rules and information according to their local guidelines. You don’t want to run into an issue that prevents you from being paid for a full performance.
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