Band lighting - small venues

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Horses eat the hay and sleep/defecate/urinate on the straw. Wheat and rye are used for most straw, hay can be a variey of plants varying from grasses to alfalfa. A hayride is usually a straw ride, not a hay ride. A roll in the hay is really a roll in the straw. Hay doesn't go on the ground. I used to deliver hay and straw to racehorse farms right before I became an electrician. What a miserable job that was. Snakes like straw. Carrying bales up in old failing barns, or in oven hot metal shipping containers. It was so dusty, I'd spit and it would be all black. 8 months of mostly misery lol.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Wait a minute. They have to hear us and see us?
I know I know - the very audacity of it!

Anywhere that we would play already has lights and a designated stage
Then job done :) Investing in lighting only makes sense if you anticipate regular use - same with PA gear. The idea of this thread is to provide at least some foundation as to a practical path & avoiding some common pitfalls.

I'm wondering if anyone has experience with or thoughts about using something like this?
I haven't, but so long as the light fittings are fairly lightweight, I see no issues, other than it's a bit ugly.

Great thread here brother! Most just rely on the venue to do lighting and armed with this knowledge, I'll pay closer attention.
We play at a small club where lighting is an issue as the "stage" is in a small corner. This will help..."shed some light" on our issue. =-D
Thank you, & good luck with the project. If you need detail specific to you, just ask here, then we can all share the outcome.

Snakes like straw.
& there's the deal breaker right there :(
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..Lighting is important - especially in smaller venues. Irrespective of the size of band / act, or the genre of music, lighting sets you apart. It turns that corner of a bar into a "stage". Without it, no matter how good you sound, you're all but invisible to the audience - especially an audience who hasn't visited that venue specifically to see you. Lighting announces there's a performance, something to watch, something special..

To me this is typically a discussion that (coverband-) musicians like to have..

I played 4 years in one of the biggest coverbands in my country for avarage audiences between 1000 and 1500 people each week and 2000 till 2500 people during the 'tent-season' (playing in big party-tents..)

We were not owning a own PA/lighting set, but had a deal with a company to rent that for each show, including their sound- and lightguy and a few roadies..

That set came each show with a truck..And with a truck, i mean a truck, not a big van..

And guess what, 99% of the audience couldnt care less..

Ofcourse there are always a few enthousiasts (mostly also musicians..) that like to mention the huge lightshow, but a normal visitor, like i said, couldnt care less..

I think actually with coverbands, the percentages are kinda like this..:

1% of the audience cares about lightning
10% of the audience cares about sound (especially if is too loud..)
10-20% cares a little which band is there to play

And 80% of the audience is just there to have a drink and to every now and then recognize a tune and shout a little along with that..
 

Judge

Member
Great post. Im really into lights. Even just around my house. Halloween is always big. Lights are so important at gigs.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Great advice, but I'm pretty sure I don't need to spend 5 grand on lights for a $50 bar gig!
Indeed, 5G's is something you would drop if you were playing ~100 >=$400 gigs per year for 4 years, doing sound/lights a twice a week, renting, or own a venue. Definitely not for the 2-gigs a month crowd.
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
Btw. My first post in this thread was not meant to criticize the list of advises from the topic-starter, but just my experiences on this subject..
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
avarage audiences between 1000 and 1500 people each week and 2000 till 2500 people during the 'tent-season' (playing in big party-tents..)

And guess what, 99% of the audience couldnt care less..
Btw. My first post in this thread was not meant to criticize the list of advises from the topic-starter, but just my experiences on this subject..
Understood & respected, but context here is everything. If you're playing 1,000 - 2,500 audience gigs, a show is expected. Maybe only a small percentage of the audience would mention lighting, but if they turned up to a gig of that size to find a band playing with minimal - no lighting & a vocal PA on sticks, I'm pretty sure they'd feel short changed.

Great advice, but I'm pretty sure I don't need to spend 5 grand on lights for a $50 bar gig!
Of course not - it's all about context & scale. At virtually all the venues I play in my cover band, we take at least 50% more in fee compared to other bands - sometimes double. That's mostly based on audience draw = straight forward economics, but feedback tells us that our "show" is at least a significant factor in differentiating us from other acts in smaller venues, & we get a payback from that.

Of course, in larger venues, a show is expected & comes with the territory, but that gear is typically provided by others, so outside of this discussion.

Bottom line - for a band playing small bar gigs, having a couple of floor floods to offer at least some sense of performance vibe / area is money well spent IMHO. That's a very modest investment.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I LOVE lighting! It can really change the focus of things in a venue.

Here's the thing I'm running into. The vast majority of stuff we do is during the day and outside. When we play inside, it's usually during daylight hours and we are usually in front of a huge window.

I'm already the drummer and the PA guy, so carrying one more thing is not something I'm going to worry about at this point. If one of the other guys wants to do it, have at it. Luckily, it's not been a need yet!
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..Understood & respected, but context here is everything. If you're playing 1,000 - 2,500 audience gigs, a show is expected. Maybe only a small percentage of the audience would mention lighting, but if they turned up to a gig of that size to find a band playing with minimal - no lighting & a vocal PA on sticks, I'm pretty sure they'd feel short changed..
Thats the other extreme side of the spectrum..

And i agree that would be kinda weird to position yourself as a band somewhere in a dark corner of the bar..I just think that for the avarage visitor is not mattering a lot if that band has just 2 par-lights on each side or a very well-thought light setup..Maybe even especially in little bars..

And regarding the bigger venues, without wanting to be disrespectful in any way, but a coverband stays a coverband..And to approach a show like you are giving a 'stadium-concert' to me just always felt a little uncomfortable..

I mean, people nowadays are used to this, which to me means that all the huge light-sets that coverbands bring will always look a little 'wannabee-like' anyway, no matter what you try..But again, i agree that trying to setup a nice show can also just be nice..And when a part of the audience is reacting nice to that, then that can for sure also give some satisfaction..Thats why the list of advices that you made for sure can help some people..
 

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Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I LOVE lighting! It can really change the focus of things in a venue.

Here's the thing I'm running into. The vast majority of stuff we do is during the day and outside. When we play inside, it's usually during daylight hours and we are usually in front of a huge window.
Here's a shot of our new rear banner. Made from a twin material layer construction, it's completely non reflective (unlike standard PVC banners) & slightly stretchy. Handy for blocking off rear light sources. We use it for all but the very smallest of gigs. Larger daytime gigs (festivals / rallies), we put this up minus the lighting.
 

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PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Here's a shot of our new rear banner. Made from a twin material layer construction, it's completely non reflective (unlike standard PVC banners) & slightly stretchy. Handy for blocking off rear light sources. We use it for all but the very smallest of gigs. Larger daytime gigs (festivals / rallies), we put this up minus the lighting.
That looks awesome.

Like I said before though, I'm already the drummer and the PA guy. I'm not carrying anything else.

I'd LOVE to have something like that though. Those pics you posted at the beginning of this thread look nothing short of amazing.

I'd thought about getting some of those vertical banners made for whenever we play somewhere. They seem pretty easy to deal with.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
I'd thought about getting some of those vertical banners made for whenever we play somewhere. They seem pretty easy to deal with.
They can look good, especially if you get the wide ones (circa 6ft).

Here's a fairly low def video showing the back banner & lights in use on Saturday. Only 3 lights (one spot + two floods) are used either side. Small venue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrzCYEX1C-Q&feature=youtu.be Lights really kick in towards the latter half of the song.
 

Smoke

Silver Member
Okay, let me get this straight... I've got 4 foot (1.2 m), 6500K "daylight" fluorescent shop lights in my basement. Should I go with something warmer - say around 3000K? For back-lighting, I could use my headlight with the elastic headband. It's got green, red AND white LEDs. This could turn into quite the production!!! Thanks Andy!! I'm on it! ;-)
 
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