Traveling To The Gig – Do It Right!

Posted on November 28, 2010

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Unless you’re playing at the bar at the end of the street, traveling to a gig is a necessary part of performing your show. Here are a few things to keep in mind when the time comes to set up and ship out for the show. You’ve got to take care of yourself first and let everything else fall into place … as it will, if you do things right.

Traveling Regionally:

Performing a gig in a fifty-mile radius usually means you’re getting into your car and lugging your own gear to the venue. Plan ahead! Let’s say you’re heading out on Friday, make a checklist.

1. Deposited check so it will be cleared by Saturday morning.

2. Filled the gas tank on the car we’re taking on Thursday Night.

3. Printed detailed directions to the venue and put them in the car.

4. Have pocket-cash in my wallet!

5. Charged the cell phone and brought the car charger adapter.

6. Packaged up all necessary equipment, gig bags, stick bags, mic cables, picks, tuners, cymbals and stuff I’ll be sorry I forgot otherwise!

I think you get the idea. Make a checklist now and use it the night before the show to be sure everything is in place. When Friday comes, all you have to do it get in the car and go!

You can never leave early enough, by the way. You will ultimately face traffic wherever you go and no one person can predict the road hassles that can arise. Arriving at the club late for load-in, or even for performing leaves no excuse. Every single person in the world will tell you “You should have left earlier!” and they are right. Worse case scenario by leaving early is that you have time to stand around, grab a bite or hear the other bands performing as they do their sound check. Not bad – time to network and get a slice of pizza. You also want to have time to navigate parking, loading in, and changing for the show.

Traveling Nationally:

If you’ve got to fly, you’re navigating a terrain that changes every time you fly. With rules and regulations, there isn’t a single person in an airport that handles the job the same way and the time you have to spend leisurely is what’s at cost. Also, each airport seems to have individual sets of rules. Here are a few tips to make your trip stress free.

1. Arrive at the airport early! No one ever missed a flight by being early at the gate. Grab a coffee and watch people who didn’t come prepared as they try to get through the flying experience. It’s very entertaining. Bring a book, or a laptop or just watch other planes take off and land to pass the time. Better to have extra time than be the person holding up the line with your frustrations over being unprepared.

2. Pack light! It’s best recommended to only bring what you can maneuver easily in a hurry with. Carrying a ton of extra bags is a hassle and takes up a lot of room. There’s no guarantee that the people around you packed light so ease the burden by doing it yourself. Also, if you’re carrying a gig bag, be sure to remove all the metal tools you use and pack them into a bag that goes under the plane. No one’s going to let you fly with a Leatherman Tool in your pocket or carry-on, so pack smart.

3. Visit the airport’s website the night before to see if there have been any unforeseen changes you need to dance around. Also, visit http://www.tsa.gov/311/index.shtm for more tips on traveling.

When you’re in the airport, people generally notice a musical group. Be prepared to have the conversations that come up – Who are you? Have I heard of you? Can you sign this? Be patient and polite and enjoy the experience, it’s a privilege that most don’t get.

If you keep these things in mind, alongside your own traveling traditions, you can be sure that you’ll have a good trip and be able to offer a peak performance. The one key element to keep in mind is to maintain a good buffer of extra time. You’ll always benefit from extra time, but when you’re short on time – well … you know what happens there. See you on the road!

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