Written by: Kevin Waites
We are roadies.
A six-man crew of road warriors who hop from town to town building the show that the people will remember all their lives because they got a t-shirt. I work as a touring sound guy. My desk isn’t stuck in a row of cubicles underneath fluorescent lights next to the water cooler. Business casual for me doesn’t include a pair of Dockers and an Oxford button down from Brooks Brothers. My office is tucked away, stage left just out of audience view. My coworkers are five other guys: A Lighting Director/Production Manager, a Lighting Tech/Rigger, a Band Gear Tech, another Sound Man and a Merch guy. If everything goes as planned tonight, you will never know we were here. Show time is only a piece of the puzzle. My days start far earlier than when the doors open to the public and ends much later than when the venue lights come on.
7:00am – Wake up in my bunk on the bus. Dig my multi-tool and flashlight out from under the pillow and my shoes from the bottom of my bunk. Pull on my hoodie, it always comes in handy at every gig. Grab a radio, a bottle of water and a blueberry breakfast bar and head out.
7am – 8am – Walk the venue with the crew. Trucks are onsite and the local stagehands are starting to arrive for the 8am call time. Crack the locks on the truck doors. Time to get to work.
8am – 9:30am – I’ve got 4 stagehands in the truck with me unloading. 2 guys dropping cases, 2 rolling out to the hands on the deck. We pack smart at load out to make load in as easy as possible. “Work smarter, not harder” is the motto of the tour. Chain motors and lighting come off the truck first followed by the stage set and band gear. Audio comes off the truck last.
9:30am – 11am – Lighting has control of the stage to get motors rigged and trussing ready to fly. Stagehands have been split between lighting, audio and band gear. I’ve got my stagehands pushing cases to front of house and monitor world. We run the snake from the splitter to the front of house position.
11am – Motors are rigged for the sound system, time to fly the PA. My audio counterpart has two stagehands stage right and I have two stagehands stage left. We have 12 JBL Vertec in the air and 16 dual 18” subs on the ground in front of the stage. Standard procedure dictates whichever side has the PA rigged last buys the drinks that night, so the pressure is on.
12pm – LD calls lunch on the radio, “Stop what you’re doing and go eat!” I join the crew in catering for lunch. Sandwiches again. We discuss what we want to do on our next day off in 3 days.
1pm – 3pm – Finish rigging the sound system. Looks like I’ll be buying drinks tonight due to some chain motor issues.
3pm – 4pm – Finish building monitor world and front of house. Tie stage boxes into the splitter. Stage set and band gear have been built. Mics on stage have been placed and wired. We are on track for a 5:30pm sound check.
4pm – 5pm – I start to check inputs with a line check. Band gear tech moves from instrument to instrument and plays a bit to ensure that the signal is hitting monitors and front of house. After troubleshooting a few bad cables and mispatched inputs, I turn my attention to wireless. I walk the stage with all IEMs to check for dead spots and interference.
5pm – 5:30pm – Clean all vocal mics with mouthwash and put them on the stage. Walk stage to make sure any trip hazards have been taped down.
5:30pm – 6:30pm – Sound Check. Digital boards are great. Only small tweaks to account for venue are needed. No opening act tonight, thank goodness. No need to strike the stage and deal with any other gear. Change batteries for all wireless after sound check.
6:30pm -7pm – Hit catering again for dinner. Chicken with white sauce and pasta tonight.
7pm – 7:30pm – Head back to the bus to chill and rest before the doors open to the public.
7:30pm – Doors open to public. Show isn’t scheduled to start until 8:00pm.
7:30pm – 8:00pm – Hang back stage waiting for the call on the radio that the band is on the way to the stage.
8:00pm – 9:30pm – Show time. The band looks happy. Peek at the crowd and they are jamming.
10pm – 1am – Load out. Everything goes back in its case and back on the truck. Always seems to load out twice as fast as the show loads in. Put the lock back on the truck and tell the driver to keep the rubber side down.
1am – Walk back to the bus. I drop my radio back on the charger and pull off my hoodie. I tuck my multi-tool and flashlight back under my pillow. Head to the back lounge of the bus and grab some drinks for my fellow crew mates and hear the Lighting Director/Production Manager get on the bus and give the driver the cue to hit the road. The air brakes release and we start to move.
Tomorrow will be a repeat of today only in another city a few hours from now.