It’s the day of your show. Huzzah! You sent the venue a confirmation email (last week hopefully!), you know when you’re supposed to start soundcheck, and your onstage banter is so hilarious you could make a cat cry tears of joy.
But as you sit eating your morning bowl of Wheaties, you begin to get the feeling that you’ve forgotten something. Or that you will forget something.
Show days can be stressful, whether you are on tour or playing a big event in your hometown. We’ve created a checklist for you to make sure that your show goes off as smoothly as possible.
1 – Grab Your Gear!
This may seem like a no-brainer. You know that you need your guitar for the show. So you grab it, toss it in your trunk, and head out to the show. Everything seems fine until you get to the venue and realize you didn’t put the cable or the guitar strap in your case like you usually do. Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong, it will. This is especially true for your gear.
Try creating a master packing list for all your shows, and go over it right before you pack up your gear to make sure you don’t need anything extra for this particular show.
Don’t forget the little stuff that can get easily overlooked! Petty cash for your merch table, extra guitar picks, a spare cable or two, and a sharpie are all important things you need to have when you load up the van!
2 – Get There Early!
Sound check is at 4? Awesome. Shoot for being there at 3 or 3:30. Musicians are not known for their punctuality, and you have the opportunity to break a mold here and impress the venue where you’re playing! No one is going to be upset that you were early. Plus you never know when traffic is going to get crazy or when you’ll have a flat tire. Always planning to be early can alleviate some of these stressors.
3 – Know Where to Park
I recommend asking the venue in advance about parking, either in that confirmation email you sent out (last week!) or with a simple phone call the day of the show. Since many venues are downtown, parking can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to park a large vehicle like a van. Plan for enough time to find a suitable parking space and to walk back to the venue. Don’t forget that you might have to pay for parking, so plan ahead!
4 – Set Up Your Merch
Don’t leave merch setup for the last minute. This is how you are going to make the majority of money for the majority of your gigs, so it should never be an afterthought. Ask the venue if there is a designated area for merch setup, and make sure everything is set up and looking good before the doors open.
5 – You Need to Eat
I used to get so confused when people would tell me that they just “forgot to eat!” I never forgot to eat…until I started playing shows regularly. Then I realized that between loading the van, unloading the van, sound checking, setting up merch, talking to fans before the show started, and actually playing the show, I did, in fact, forget to eat.
Setting aside a few minutes for dinner before a show is really important. No one wants the band to pass out on stage because they forgot to eat. Plan ahead by looking up restaurants near the venue, or prepping an easy on-the-go meal before you leave for the show. If the venue has a restaurant, food and drinks might be included with your performance, so make sure to ask your venue contact person if food is included.
**Even more important than food is water! Be proactive in your hydration, especially if the show is outdoors!
6 – Play Your Heart Out
It’s time to actually play the show you’ve been preparing for all day. So no matter what happened earlier-the forgotten cable, the parking mishap, the traffic jam-it’s time to get onstage and play the best show of your life!
Is there anything else that’s an absolute must for show day preparation? Got any stories about a show day that went totally wrong? Let us know in the comments below!