The Logistics of Touring Shows
Live concerts and festivals can be immensely enjoyable events for fans and the musicians involved, but there are many unsung heroes that act behind the scenes who deserve much more credit than they get. I’m speaking, of course, about the stagehands.
Before the lights dim and the musicians make their way to the stage, there are, at times, hundreds of people behind the curtains working tirelessly to ensure that everything goes right, and that every single person in the audience revels in the show’s impressiveness. From instruments, to costumes, to sound equipment, to lights, a stagehand’s plate is often quite full. Combine that with the hassle of touring around the country, and the job itself seems that much more complex.
The first step in preparing for a show is transporting all of the necessary gear to either the main rehearsal spot or venue location. Transportation via local or cross-country trucking, or air freight is typically required depending on how much needs to be moved. Aside from instruments, microphones, and amplifiers, some bands tour with their own lighting systems, video screens, pyrotechnics, and more, making the workload that much larger.
It’s important to note that cutting corners in this line of work can have drastic consequences, as one missing piece of stage equipment could potentially ruin the entire show. For that reason, equipment managers and stagehands should know every single piece of gear required for the show just as, if not better than the band members themselves.
Similarly, experienced equipment managers know to always plan for the unexpected. Bands may add shows to their tour at the last minute, decide to play shorter or longer than originally agreed upon, or improvise in the middle of the set. Regardless of the event, those operating behind the scenes often prepare for this by remaining on their toes, and having more-than-enough equipment to accommodate for any unexpected act.
One of the lesser known aspects of behind-the-scenes operations in the music industry is just how close employees and musicians can become. After all, they are sometimes on the road together for months on end. Equipment managers and stagehands alike work alongside the band members themselves day and night to the point where friendships may begin to blossom. The bottom line is though their jobs might be tedious and exhausting, they are doing what they love to help others do what they love on a daily basis.