10 Terms You Need to Know at Your Next GigBy
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Have you ever listened to two computer programmers talk to each other? How about two or three people obsessed with the same video game? Maybe it was your Grandma and Great Aunt Betty talking about knitting techniques.
Often vocations or hobbies that have a very specific niche will also have a very specific vocabulary. The music industry is no different.
For musicians who are just beginning to venture into the world of live shows, the terms that get thrown around can be confusing. Even musicians who have been playing professionally for a while will occasionally stumble upon a phrase they’ve never heard before.
We’re going to help ease your mind as you prepare for your next gig by getting you familiar with the jargon before you head out for the venue.
Load in is the time when you are expected to be at the venue to bring all your equipment inside. This time is typically the same for all musicians, unless you’ve been specifically told that your load in will be directly before your soundcheck.
This is your time before the show to get comfortable in the space on stage, make sure you can hear yourself well, and run over any last minute adjustments with the band. During soundcheck you will usually play each instrument individually, then play together so the sound guy can make sure that you sound amazing. Sound check is also when you need to let the sound engineer know if you have any special needs for your mix. If the violin needs to be cranked for the whole set, or if you have vocalists swapping microphones, they need to know about it.
Front of House
This is the mix of your music that the audience hears. The sound guy who makes all the magic happen for the audience is called the “FOH Engineer.” Always make sure you are extra polite and gracious to the FOH Engineer (and ALL the staff at the venue!), because they control how you sound. If you are playing a new venue, or you’ve never met the FOH Engineer at a venue you play often, take a few minutes and get to know them. Sound guys are the most important member of your band, regardless of where you are playing.
Monitors are the speakers that are angled up at you onstage, and they are your best friends. Monitors allow you to hear a different mix from the audience, so that you can hear exactly what you need to perform well. This is called a monitor mix. If you are playing a small venue, they may only have one or two monitors. Bigger venues may have one for each member of the band. If possible, it’s a good idea to try and get a separate monitor mix for each member of the band. If that’s not possible, a drummer and bassist can usually share a monitor mix; guitars will probably have their own or share with keys, and vocalists will typically have their own. A keyboardist and vocalist can share a monitor mix if necessary. Some venues may also have a set up for in ear monitors, although the band usually brings that with them. Make sure you clarify what the monitor setup is going to be before the show so that there is no confusion when you get to your gig.
This room may or may not be green, but it always refers to the room that performers can hang out in before they go onstage. In some venues, a green room may be replaced with dressing rooms, or there may be dressing rooms in addition to a green room. Sometimes only the headliner is given access to the green room, so if you aren’t headlining, you might want to clarify with the venue what their policy is.
This is a term that you will probably encounter as you are booking shows. This term is used most often by promoters and booking agents when they are talking to venues, but it’s important for musicians to understand what it means.