Have the "stage" areas in venues gotten smaller?

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I didn't play any bars or clubs in the 1990s, but I went to my fair share of them to go see bands play. Although the "stage" areas weren't huge by any stretch, there seemed to be some room for folks to play without running into each other. In the places I'm playing these days, the areas in which we play just seems extremely tight at a lot of these venues. I don't remember going and watching a band on a patio or crammed back in a corner somewhere the way I'm playing these days.

Has it always been like this and I was just too naive to see it? Also, many (all?) of the places I used to go watch bands during the 1990s have been shut down, so there's no way to tell now.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
There were two instances where we had to cut down the stage because regulators (Fire, ASCAP) included the open stage area into the capacity figures. We even had to make custom bass bins that fit under the stage. Surprisingly, walkways, restrooms, and green rooms didn't count toward total capacity.

You could argue that we cut down our stages "for profit", but given the state of the live music industry, it's more fair to say that we did it to reduce our losses. The only profitable aspect of the business is the bar.

Anyone else here own/operate a club?
 
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Drifter in the Dark

Silver Member
Yes, it seems to me that most of the stages (in my city, at least) are very small. What really bugs me, though, is when bars & restaurants decide to have live music but don't even have a stage at all! There are a couple places like that where I play pretty regularly with one of my bands, and every time it's a hassle. One time we got delayed over half an hour because a table of 12 had decided to stay & "camp out" after their meal was done, and we couldn't set up until their table was moved.
 

benthedrum

Senior Member
I have seen a gradual decrease in stage size over the years.

Why?

Venues I think are going through an "identity crisis".

Years ago, a venue was a large stage, a large dance floor and a bar.

Now what I see is venues with a restaurant, a betting area, lounges, cafe, fireplace and TV's.

These facilities are all housed within the same sized area.

The stage is now basically a couple of milk crates, the dance floor is shared with everything else.

Venues have a solo artist or maybe a duo. No one dances to that stuff as everyone in the crowd has their heads in their damn mobile phones Facebooking.
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I can only talk about Norway and I think there are few different types of places.

- If it's somewhere people go for the music it's pretty good. Still talking bar, a very overpriced one.

- Bars close to the cities where music isn't the main thing often struggle. You can fit a drum kit and then it's petty tight for the rest of the band. Like a small bar in a city. It's only lately live music has started growing again, so it was usually enough to fit one or two people on stage. Full bands pretty much went away in the mid 90s.

Bars out in the country are often set up quite well. It's the only place to go unless people want to travel really far. All the "farmers" will come, so you're usually guaranteed a full house.

The live music scene is changing for the better. It's a bit different, though. People actually do want to go out and see original and live music again. It's a bit different, though.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Probably adding tables to make revenue with folks in the seats. Times are tough all around
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
Funny you mention that. One of our local venues is called the Vogue, and it's a coffeshop that turns into a wine bar with live music at night. The stage is (if I remember correctly) about 8 ft x 8 ft but not square - more of a Superman shield-shaped pentagon. Three guys with a small drumkit can *just* fit onto it. Therefore, in the local music scene a "vogue" is a generally accepted unit of measurement for stage sizes.

"Wow! This stage is pretty big!"
"I know, right? It must be at least seven vogues!"509svoguexmas.jpg
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Most bar / pub venues we play are of the larger variety by band real estate necessity, but there's two cozy Sunday daytime gigs we like to do once / year in a very stripped down format. In almost all cases, the "stage" area is multi purpose, rather than a stage with any form of structure. We've not seen those areas shrink as such, more change of use as the business tries to evolve / survive.
 

KEEF

Senior Member
Most of the venues we play are pubs/clubs that 'have bands' rather than 'music venues'. We are often left waiting to set up whilst they move tables out of the way. We're only a 4 piece but we've still been on a mission lately to swap to smaller gear. Tube amps for combo's, small digital desk etc. We used to put on a real show - full light rig,lasers,smoke... no where has the space for that anymore.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Most of the venues we play are pubs/clubs that 'have bands' rather than 'music venues'. We are often left waiting to set up whilst they move tables out of the way. We're only a 4 piece but we've still been on a mission lately to swap to smaller gear. Tube amps for combo's, small digital desk etc. We used to put on a real show - full light rig,lasers,smoke... no where has the space for that anymore.
This is similiar to my situation. There are a few pubs we play that have actual stages, a small number of them were Social Clubs in an earlier life and therefore have proper full size stages, but many of the places we play are pubs that host bands. We’ve had the “you can’t set up until the diners leave” scenario in the past and I can think of at least two occasions when we didn’t bother pursuing a repeat booking because we had no desire to walk into that sort of hassle with our eyes wide open. The most memorable was an hour’s drive, a good proportion of which was over unlit moorland to arrive at the standard 7pm. At which point we were told we couldn’t start setting up in the almost empty dining area until 8pm. And if anyone came to eat even as late as 8.59pm they took priority and our start would be delayed. This from a pub that had a “great reputation” for live music. They’ve subsequently stopped hosting bands/(ran out of bands?) which comes as no so surprise. Btw, did I mention that this was in the middle of winter too? I can think of a couple of what I call “music pubs” who still don’t get things right, have pool tables set up on the playing area and still need to be asked if they can move the players well into recognised band set up times of evening. Some of the worst are the pubs who decide to give music a try and have no background or clue, basics like enforcement of a protected performance area and even power supply don’t cross the minds of the “organisers”, and while I’m far from having the luxury to pick and choose my gigs I generally give new places a wide berth until they prove themselves.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
I get a mixed bag doing what I do, had a really snug setup on Saturday just gone but have a big outdoor marquee gig next Saturday but I'm kind of removed from the live music scene where people come out to see a band.

Sadly all the venues that were dedicated live venues by me are all long gone so venues and stages have got a lot smaller and people are still dumb enough to take 4x12 cabs

The live music scene is dead in my part of England barring a few little pockets. The price of a pint puts a lot of punters off as does the smoking ban and I'm saying this as a non-smoker. The music budget a lot of bars and clubs means that bands are priced out and you end up with glorified karaoke singers which everyone hates.
 

TMe

Senior Member
When I bought my four-piece Jazz kit, all the old Rockers thought I was nuts for getting such a dinky little kit. Nowadays, almost all the younger drummers use Jazz kits for the same reason I do - there's no room on stage for a full Rock kit. There's barely enough room for the Jazz kit. So I was ahead of the curve on that one.

I'm even thinking about going back to the two-piece kit (bass and snare) that I used when playing Hardcore.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
When I bought my four-piece Jazz kit, all the old Rockers thought I was nuts for getting such a dinky little kit. Nowadays, almost all the younger drummers use Jazz kits for the same reason I do - there's no room on stage for a full Rock kit. There's barely enough room for the Jazz kit. So I was ahead of the curve on that one.

I'm even thinking about going back to the two-piece kit (bass and snare) that I used when playing Hardcore.

Yup, I just bought a smaller kit, and we do a lot of rock and roll and country. I usually do a one-up/one-down thing when I have the room, but things have been so stinkin' tight recently, I've even started ditching the rack tom.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I have played on stages so small either the guitars/bass stood on the floor and I used the stage, or we all played on the floor. Those gigs were fun, especially if there was a mosh pit.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I'm finding that back rooms which used to be the live room with a stage and a dancefloor have become bistros and lounges, so any live music is squeezed into the corner of the front bar. I'm getting good at climbing through tight corners to get into my kit.

One small but considerate pub I often play at has a small corner stage, but they have PA speakers and foldback hanging from the ceiling, lights installed on various walls, and several guitar hangers mounted along the side walls so guitars and basses don't need guitar stands on the floor. This leaves much more space for the bands - especially with no foldback wedges or guitar stands in the way.
 
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Morrisman

Platinum Member
How on earth did they pass code? Where is this bar located?
Are you referring to the blocked door? There’s another one just to the right of the shot, and another further along. The stage is removable, plywood sheets sitting on plastic crates. Its in Australia.
 
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