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.
Dance floor: Any space required for dancers is in addition 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!
Positioning: The performance area should normally be on the far side of the room from 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.
Important: The 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 be 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.