Festival backline playing

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
For those who play on a backline kit preset for the main act at a festival, do you rearrange the kit for your needs or do you play as it's set up for your songs?
I've learned that I can work with what I have if I know I need to "get on & get off" without messing with the equipment.
It doesn't happen often. but enough that I wanted to discuss it.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I generally leave kits alone, even the heights of the cymbals. I've had backline kits fall apart in my hands often enough to have learned not to mess with them unless absolutely necessary.

I rearrange my kits at home frequently so as to never get too comfortable or reliant on any one setup. The last thing I need when performing is to be rattled by a kit that doesn't conform to my preferred ergonomic needs.
 
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rebonn

Senior Member
I may move things a little but don't rearrange things. I practice on one kit and take a different kit and configuration including different pedals out to play so I'm used to playing different configurations and hardware anyway.
 

John Q. Drummer

Well-known member
Never been in a situation where I was told to play the backline kit literally “as-is”. I’ve always been told to switch out my snare, cymbals and bass drum pedal before proceeding. Is that common in your neck of the woods?

I try not to adjust anything else, but boy howdy as 1 up/1 down player for years now, when the provided backline kit was a 2 up/1 down set up, I struggled with that. The ride cymbal felt like it was in another county fer cripes sakes!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I use my pedal, my hi hat stand, my throne, and my snare stand/drum. I just move those items off so I'm happy and the guys drums didn't get adjusted. It's way faster as my stuff is preadjusted before I go on. I can be set up before the guitarist is in tune. Toms/cymbals I don't touch but if I do it's to move off stage and slide my stuff right in stands and all. Faster than trying to figure out the guys hardware if it isn't memory-locked in already.
 

Neal Pert

Well-known member
Depends on two things: (1) how much time there is for switchover and (2) the condition and flexibility of the kit and owner. If it's genuine backline-- ie, not owned by another guy who's playing-- I'll tweak. But if it belongs to one of the other players, I try to keep adjustments to the absolute bare minimum. I WILL bring comfort items to the gig, but won't necessarily change.

Playing on just about any kit is a skill a professional needs to acquire.

I once had to play a trad jazz gig on a festival stage with a monster power tom Record Custom kit with pinstripes and manhole cover cymbals. I made it happen.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
If a kit is arranged in a manner I find tolerable, I leave it alone. If not, I make minor adjustments as needed. I don't get persnickety about it. I've always seen backline formats as "roll with it" propositions. I just put myself in a frame of mind that's more receptive to unknowns.

The vast majority of my gigs have involved my own equipment though. That's how I prefer to play.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I played what was put in front of me in those situations. I once agreed to let a supporting act play my kit (including pedals) and the cheeky chancer readjusted my pedal settings on my main kick...I didn’t find out until I started my set!!!:mad:😂
Altering someone's pedal settings is rather intrusive. It's not a big deal to move a stand an inch or so, but if a player wants an unfamiliar kit to have the same settings are his or her own, he or she is better off not using backline gear.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
Playing on just about any kit is a skill a professional needs to acquire.
Agreed.
I find it not a big deal to work with someone else's set up as long as it's not something I couldn't do.
Play a lefty kit as a righty player? Challenge accepted! ;)
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
I take my snare, cymbals, pedal, and throne. I always confirm I can adjust cymbal stand heights w/ the promoter. No one has ever told me "no" and more often they've said I can adjust tom angles/positioning if needed. I try not to tinker unless I absolutely have to.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I would not adjust anything. I would bring my throne, pedals, snare and basket. Everything else is what it is.

I've had some nightmares with positioning on shared kits. That's difficult when playing death metal. Muscle memory is gone, you have to calculate every target. It puts the thinking back into the music. I'm not a fan.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I would not adjust anything. I would bring my throne, pedals, snare and basket. Everything else is what it is.

I've had some nightmares with positioning on shared kits. That's difficult when playing death metal. Muscle memory is gone, you have to calculate every target. It puts the thinking back into the music. I'm not a fan.
This is precisely why I reconfigure my kits 3-4 times per year. I've been thrown once or twice by unfamiliar setups. Not letting that happen again if I can avoid it.
 

CommanderRoss

Silver Member
This is precisely why I reconfigure my kits 3-4 times per year. I've been thrown once or twice by unfamiliar setups. Not letting that happen again if I can avoid it.
Same here.
I'll tear down my whole set up just to see what changes I can make that might feel or work better.
I know it's never the same from show to show.
 

calan

Silver Member
I tech'd several festivals years before I ever had occasion to play one myself. I've even provided backline since.

As a player, I'm a pain in the ass: I'm left handed. So, yeah, I'm gonna flip that kit around. But the typical backline configuration is minimal enough that I can do that before some lazy guitar player is even plugging in. I'm generally playing a 4 piece situation, so losing a tom off the usual 5 piece basically gets me most of the way there.

Most of the guys I was teching for were touring pros, bringing the standard pedal/snare/cymbals package that is de rigueur on that circuit. That would go up in flash, and then I'd help them dial in heights quickly and with minimum fuss. Then they would be on to mic and monitor checks. So, that's my baseline.

It was rare in that situation for any of them to make any major adjustments. Many were happy enough with the house snare, or were at least enjoying taking something else for a test drive. The only real problems were the guys who sit low with their knees up in the air. Some guys would bring cowbells, tambourines, jam blocks, etc. The odd player would bring a cymbal arm and a splash, and maybe the odd china, but you could also tell those were the caliber of players who would be just fine going without.

Getting a good monitor mix was always the bigger concern.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I like to have my own seat when possible. If not, I move the thrown up to the height I prefer. As long as I am sitting comfortably, I can deal with whatever may or may not be In front of me.
 

drumnut87

Well-known member
the festivals ive played have a backline kit for us lower level bands and let the headline acts provide their own unless its a sponsored slot where every act uses the same kit and gear. i see if it can be adjusted, if not i do my best to play with it as is, as normally im only doing half an hour to 40 min slots. the only thing i usually do is raise the seat up if its at its lowest level as too low down and i'd hurt my hips & back.
 

Rotarded

Senior Member
I generally leave kits alone, even the heights of the cymbals. I've had backline kits fall apart in my hands often enough to have learned not to mess with them unless absolutely necessary.

My very first time sitting behind a backline kit I reached out to change the angle of the 13" tom (two up, one down kit), as it was at a much different angle to the 12", and the mount snapped instantly. Was the last time I ever adjusted anything on any kit other than my own.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
The last couple of times I used a backline kit, it was owned by the sound system company. They were very cool about my using my cymbals and seat. One time we played first, and they let me use my own drums too. Peace and goodwill.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
I use my pedal, my hi hat stand, my throne, and my snare stand/drum. I just move those items off so I'm happy and the guys drums didn't get adjusted. It's way faster as my stuff is preadjusted before I go on. I can be set up before the guitarist is in tune. Toms/cymbals I don't touch but if I do it's to move off stage and slide my stuff right in stands and all. Faster than trying to figure out the guys hardware if it isn't memory-locked in already.

I do this now for sure. and also for the reason of speed of set up. Clamp the sanre to the stand adn it is a 2 trip jaunt form the storage area to stage

waaayyy back in the day, - my late 20's - I was definitely a "my set or no set" kind of guy. Then I did a few small tours up and down the east coast, almost always playing on house kits, and that "shut me up" real quick. I learned to play in and on every kind of adverse kit situation imaginable....even a lefty set up that I was not allowed to change. That was the era where I truly learned the KISS method of fills, and am so thankful for it. It inspired me into a 5-7 year span of doing real odd set ups with my own kit, just to challenge my self. Often times to my band mates annoyance
 
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