Logistics of Sundogs
This document is
intended to provide clients with an overview of the following logistical
issues relevant to Sundogs bookings:
A rock band
needs a surprisingly large amount of space.
Starting from back to front, we have (a) the drummer, (b) his
drum kit, (c) the other performers, (d) their microphone stands, and
(e) their floor monitors. And of course no one wants to stand right next to crashing cymbals while playing! We therefore find that a stage depth of 12'
is the absolute minimum to accommodate the band and stage setup comfortably. Also,
we have three guitarists standing side by side. To be comfortably
spaced out, we like to have a stage width for just the musicians of at
least 12' feet. In addition, we need a few feet of space on
each end of the stage to set up the main speakers and any lights. In summary, the minimum comfortable stage area is about 12' deep by 16' wide.
We normally prefer to have even more space than this so as to be
able to spread out and have some freedom of movement. We have,
however, made do with less as well, though it can be
quite awkward and can even impair our ability to perform well.
Although it isn't required, it's nice to be up on an
elevated platform assembled from portable 4'x4' risers.
The elevation helps keep the band visible above the heads of
dancers as well as making it less likely that dancers will stray
into the tangle of wires and equipment in the performance area.
Now that the Sundogs hire a sound technician for most shows (if not provided by the event), there are additional space requirements for him. Not only will he have a rack of equipment and some very large speakers that are added to the stage area, but he will also want to have his mixing board somewhere at least 20-30 out in front of the stage area so that he can hear what the audience hears and make adjustments. In a banquet hall (e.g., for a wedding reception), he will normally choose a suitable spot on one side of the room, as unobtrusive and out of the way as possible. While he doesn't need a lot of room, he still needs some place, so please keep that need in mind as you plan your table layout.
Any space required for dancers is in
to the above stage area. It is not unusual to have to move tables
after the banquet in order to make room
in front of the stage for a dance floor. The more inviting the dance floor, the more likely it is that folks will dance!
performance area should normally be on the far side of the room the
entrance guests will be using. Because of music volume, it is also best
to keep it away from any bar or service areas where people need to be
able to hear each other talk.
Access: Because of the
amount of gear we need to move from the cars to the stage area, we need
a place to park at least temporarily near a convenient entrance.
If applicable, a temporary parking pass for up to four vehicles would
be appreciated, though we can make do with two and pass them around. We might also need to use ramps or elevators to move
some heavy items on dollies.
stage area (but not the dance area) must be available exclusively
for use by the band from the time of set-up onward. Once music
and sound equipment has been set up and the sound check completed, we
cannot move equipment around. To do so would undo the effort that went
into eliminating feedback and other potential sound problems.
Also, the stage area must
off-limits to traffic by either guests or staff - and especially
children, due to the risk of tripping on cables or otherwise disrupting
the sound set-up.
If you have not
yet chosen a venue for your event, it's worth at least considering room
acoustics as one factor in your choice. A great many events we
have played, especially weddings, have been held in rooms that are very
"lively" acoustically -- that is, they have a lot of hard, reflective
surfaces like hardwood, marble, glass, tile, etc., and very little
absorbing material like carpet, drapes, acoustic ceilings, upholstered
chairs, and so forth. While a room like that can be great for
choirs, string quartets, and the like, it can be very problematic for a
rock band with drums and amplified instruments. In particular,
there is no "volume knob" on the drums, and so the sound of drums can
be overwhelming in a small, reflective room. Moreover, the
volume on other instruments and on the band vocals needs to be brought
up to be heard over the drums, so there is a definite limit to how
quietly a rock band like ours can play in any given setting!
The bottom line is this: If you choose a room that has a lot of
natural reverberation, then it will be difficult to make the band sound
really good (not boomy or muddy), and it will be even more difficult to
effectively control overall volume so that people sitting at the other
end of the room can converse normally. We will of course do our
best with whatever room we're given, but please understand that our
sound engineer has only so many ways to work magic! It
will help, by the way, when the room is full of people, since people
help absorb sound -- a nearly empty room reverberates much more than a
If we're providing our own sound system for a small venue (e.g, bar or patio), then our complete
set-up can usually run off of a single AC wall outlet, provided that the outlet is capable of providing 15 amps of current at
120V with no risk of tripping a circuit breaker. If this is not
the case, then power should ideally be provided from two or more outlets on at least two separate
circuit breakers. The outlet(s) must be located within a 30 foot radius
of the back edge of the stage area. Otherwise, the client is
responsible for ensuring the availability of a heavy duty extension
cord(s) long enough to bring power to within 30 feet of the back
edge of the stage.
If we are bringing in a pro sound company, which is very likely for
weddings and/or larger or outdoor venues, then power requirements may
well be greater than indicated above. Sometimes the sound
engineer will want to tap directly into the power panel and use his own
breakers. We will generally put the sound engineer into direct
contact with the venue manager to discuss access to power.
Important note: The power requirements described here assume that the circuits being used by the band are not shared with other significant electrical loads! Especially electrical cooking, heating, or major lighting equipment draws large amounts of power. If you plug these into the same circuits used by the band, there's a good chance the circuit breaker will trip right in the middle of the performance, and there will be an unplanned and awkward intermission.
Disclaimer: The Sundogs are
not responsible for interruptions of the performance due to tripped
avoid hazard of electrical shock to performers, all outlets must be properly grounded and have standard three-prong receptacles.
Any evidence that outlets are not properly grounded (e.g., even
mild shocks from instruments or microphone stands) will be grounds for
discontinuing the performance. If the Sundogs are performing outdoors where there is any threat of significant moisture (e.g., damp grass) or rain, then the outlets made available must be equipment with GFI breakers. Most outdoor outlets are on GFIs. When in doubt, it is possible to use extension cords with built-in GFI breakers - please discuss with the band whether these might be needed.
The client is
responsible for general lighting of the performance and dance area.
Depending on the venue and the nature of the gig, the Sundogs may
provide two light trees, each with four PAR-38 lamps with colored gels to help illuminate and
accent the stage area only. However, these cannot be relied upon
for general-purpose lighting.
If you have a larger event in which the lighting described above will
be inadequate, or if you want special lighting for the dance floor, let us know and we can look into to hiring professional
lighting. This may add between $50 and $200 to our fee, depending
on how large and complex of a lighting system is required. Added
lighting will also place signficantly greater demands on the available
electrical power (see above).
use of PA system
When the band is
not performing, clients may arrange to use our PA system for announcements and/or
recorded background music. If desired, one of our vocal microphones may be
detached from the stand and hand-held by an emcee, but please let us know in advance so that we can be sure there is a sufficient length of cable to move around. But note that many banquet halls have their own built-in sound systems with ceiling speakers and even wireless microphones, and these are usually preferable to the band's sound system for speeches and announcements, because they reach the audience more evenly.
If background music of your own choosing is required prior to our performance or during band breaks, then
you should plan to load up an MP3 player (e.g., an iPod),
with the desired selection of songs. You will need to (1) provide the
actual CD player or MP3 player used for playback and (2) delegate
responsibility for the music playback, preferably to a trusted member of your
party. Your music player should have a 1/8" output jack (most portable devices have this) -- either
headphone or 'line out'. Our sound tech will connect the player to our mixing
board during the soundcheck period, and either he or your designee will start and stop the music and control the volume.
During the Performance
several issues that can come up once the party is started, and you
should give these some thought in case they come up at yours.
Sound Volume -
Sometimes the bride's mother approaches us at the stage and tells us
we're too loud. When we turn down, we are then approached by the
bride who tells us to disregard her mom and turn back up again.
We don't want to get caught in the middle of differing
expectations concerning sound volume, so our rule is very simple: Whoever booked us is the boss. If anyone else approaches us about turning up or down, we will always ask them to talk to our client and have them tell us what they want.
- Sometimes we are asked to be part of a special activity, such as a
Dollar Dance. We are told what to do (e.g., announce Dollar
Dance) and when to do it (e.g., at the end of the first break).
Not infrequently, however, we go to do what we're asked to do at
the appointed time and discover that a key person (e.g., the bride) is
missing. If you have activities planned for for our breaks or
during our performance, please make sure that everyone who needs to be
there gets the word. We will not leave long periods of "dead"
time, so in the event that something can't start on schedule, we'll
return to playing our usual material again until we get the word that
it's time for another try at the activity.
When the Sundogs
are hired to play 3-3.5 hours of music at a wedding reception, that's all that most
of the audience sees. What they don't
see is the significant time and labor that goes into preparing for the
gig and packing up afterwards. For an in-town wedding reception performance that
begins at 8:00 PM and ends at midnight, here is the typical schedule:
PM Band members and/or sound tech inventory instruments and PA equipment and load vehicles.
Band members leave home.
Band arrives at venue.
Carry in and set up equipment.
Thorough sound check, adjustment of monitors, etc. Note: A full sound check includes trial
performances of selected songs at full volume. The time set aside for
conflict with other activities scheduled in the same building!
Stop before guests start arriving; eat dinner (probably at local restaurant)
Begin performance; take three 15 minute breaks in a 4-hour
End performance; begin dissassembling and packing up equipment
Carry packed gear to vehicles and begin loading
Arrive home, begin unloading gear.
in-town wedding reception costs each bandmembers
from beginning to end! And the actual performance, lasting 2-4 hours, is the fun part of that period! (This is why the length of the performance itself has little bearing on our fee!)
the gig is out-of-town,
then the transportation time is greater. If the gig is much more than
an hour away from Madison, we will usually spend the night in a local
hotel and drive home after
breakfast the following morning rather than take to the roads at 1