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Author Topic: Small band lighting- any suggestions?  (Read 9127 times)


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Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2004, 07:17:47 pm »

in my area, renting IS NOT an option,  you can get for 50bux a night, 2 trees with 4 par 36s or maybe 48s each, maybe one or 2 dimmers, and a st8 up stomp box type controller. CAN YOU DANCE?  and lets face it, that isnt shit.   20yrs ago a band made 400-500 per night on the low side.  here it is 20 yrs later, and now we re making a WHOOPPING 200+per night TOTAL, not each, if we re lucky... so many things have went up in price, rental, drink prices ect.. but yet so many bands settle for next to nothing just to play out... now you add even a cheapass light show for 50bux a night, after paying a share to your mix guy, unless you do it from stage, which ia a MAJOR pain in the ass. maybe you did good that night n made 400. less the light rental, less any sound rental less any soundman rental. you have just played for 75 bux for the weekend> hardly worth the time to pack up my gear, let alone unpack it set it up, play, tear it down, pack it up move it back to the rehersal studio/ set it BACK up for next rehersal...ect ect ect.....Thank god i Love what i do, cuz as i seen on someones post... if i were in this business to make business, id be out of business>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> thats a simple plain truth...  bar bands get shit on over and over, and they re happy to do it, just to play out....I KNOW I DO IT.
as for the original post.....  i have one word,,
you can literally rape someone leagally, keep in mind if you dont get a completely automated controller, you ll need someone to push the buttons, faders and knobs,  hmm dont forget to budget more for your new light
sorry for the rant,
I had to do it cuz I'm Just like that!!!!!

Brian Ship

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Re: Small band lighting- any suggestions?
« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2004, 12:08:39 am »

Ah, Timmahh perhaps on this scale you are the most realist amongst us lighting guys, much less just entertainers without a million dollars in their day trading job attempting to provide some more effect to their art with their surplus cash flow.  

I work for a ... decent size lighting company that would not even consider rentals to small bar bands for anything good without labor provided, and agree with Creg's concept of that, much less anything at a reasonable cost to those not bringing in hundreds of spectators thus being able to afford more bang for the buck, but also have some friends that do bar gigs with their band in needing to perform.  In this case, all the lighting in the world is not going to make for a better show.  Sorry, but to some degree hart will make up for candlelight.  With the proper hart, and perhaps some small work into specific important moments, darkness will go a long way still in enjoyment.  The other option is some good light show but band that spent all their time and money in it?  

What they make at night might cover the bar tab, and perhaps some gear, but that is not the overall enjoyment goal much less in having any more to invest in labor and lights to rent.  What they might someday invest in would be out of pocket and more in helping their enjoyment than investment.  Often such band people are tinkerers and can afford a small amount of their own gear so why not?  The two interests in my purpose of doing this for a living and their's don't mix nor do I push a Metallica look to their show.  Such a look even if afforded would be out of scale with the performance setting and intent.  Instead a single PAR 38 found at a good cost might be just right when placed and used properly.

They work clubs that often have just as many people coming to them for the Cubs game as those automatically E-Mailed about the band playing, much less that are just there because the bar is local.  Such clubs frequently have their own lighting packages of extremely badly focused par lamps - often pointed at the lead singer's feet, and of late now that technology has become less expensive, moving lights as it were that were some sort of internally sound activated to change look with the band's song.  Normally only 2/3 of house lights work - something that the band if interesting in lighting themselves could have looked into with the club.  I don't do moving lights but found such cheap lights at times did still fulfill their purpose.  Focus what the house has, use their cheap equipment and build upon it as necessary first above any ligting package of your own creation you might not have time to tinker with and still have work for your purpose.

For me as a stage lighting designer at least, the sound activated equipment was less harmful to the enjoyment of the performance as the house provided general wash lights in bad focus or color.  At a few times I asked the house management for a broom to focus the crap but was never taken seriously.  Am I to assume that some extent of lighting is not the norm, or is it that a band is expected to operate under fluorescent fixtures or candles?

My point,... it might be a better idea to when possible see if you can do minor changes to the house lighting in making it more appropriate to you as a start, than supplement it.  Five minutes with lights on and band in their spots with someone looking at focuses of the house gear commonly furnished with the night might help a lot.  This assumes a club that has lights.  If not, why not find one with such gear or charge them for you renting such gear as to make you visible as I expect on such a level the norm of necessity would be.    Why loose money on a rental or purchase if it's not provided in the profit?  Go elsewhere, put in your rider that you will be able to be seen and or eventually charge enough that you can afford to buy or rent as needed.

Somewhere I as possibly Len (not that I can speak for him) is missing the connection between you needing to provide sufficient gear for your band to play, and you not also being paid enough to provide that gear.

After that, one might work on such gear that the base player or who ever can control with his foot and otherwise just changes looks automatically for now as built upon and above what the house provides.  Flip the foot switch and self-test mode at the prime timing to a AF-1000, and you have one heck of a strobe effect that becomes unique to your use of it. In other words, if you E-Bay find a AF-1000 and have cash on hand plus want one, this piece of gear without someone to control it or a controller for it beyond a foot switch just became part of your own enjoyment of performing once you hit the foot switch.  Perhaps what you purchase should be as simple as buying what you want given a base of light provided or rented as the situation dictates.  Or buying lights to supplement that base of light as needed, than still buying toys.

Get to the place you perform and note that there is no way to light the drummer, much less downlight him or her, perhaps it's a trip out to the hurse to grab a PAR a while installing the rest of the gear.  Perhaps a gove box full of gel in that same band transport vehicle of enjoyment.

Give a good wash of light, even an intense one, A few colors coordianted, even something clear and down light, even a few/two trees you provide of full intensity non-dim lights on seperate channels of control for effect, perhaps a few to supplement house provided lights, than with anything left, why not invest in something that is just going to move with the music for now?  A few looks beyond illumination that is assumed to be house provided or paid for in your doing the show, a few changes keeping pace with the beet and you have a simple show that puts you over the top instead of worrying about keeping up with it.

At this point one could purhcase some cheap even E-Bay package or a few pieces at a time to supplement what the house should be providing.  I'll take a focused light over a mac what ever any day because beyond some effect, it's still the eyes that are important.  Eventually you might have your own package and in upkeep for it since the event is no longer providing a basic house lighting package, you can ask a larger price to provide the lighting.  Why should there not be different charges for houses with the gear for you to play under, that which you should focus and supplement, and prices better yet that might even provide funds to puchase more gear with?

Remember howevever liability.  If the house provides the lighting, you are not responsible for it or it's upkeep much less injuries from it.  Anything you add might be very well advised to consult for permission on and wiring expertise of and get insurance over in additon to lots of other details.  Sure a single downlight for that one song you provide might not be much to worry about, but given power availability and safety, the more things you add to your show, the larger the responsibility over enjoyment of the night you also have and thus become liable for beyond the cool look from.  

At some point you will be better off renting over supervising house gear plus what you provide and being liable for the gear you purhase or use.  This in all cases is given someone competent to supervise the application of such fixtures also.  The more involved you get, the more trouble you have in getting a simple night's enjoyment ready to play.  Len I would say has a lot of good points about renting.  Not sure if I agree on all of his price quotes or the need for a Color Command in a single fixture over a wall of PAR cans for effect, but his point is good in that if you are playing a space that does not have lights, why purchase an overwhelming amount of them especially if next week you won't need them and is that more cost effective than renting to supplement your own more basic inventory you might or might not pull from?  Plus before you rent, even for the shows interested and ready to do their own lighting, how do you know what works best for you?

This is all well and beyond programmers needed to design your show or operators needed to at least bump you on cue above someone on stage hitting a foot switch.  Very easy to pre-program a light to do it's own thing, a little harder to coordinate egos in a band in addition to the lighting on them.

Note, I don't do band lighting, but both Craig and Len in balance seems sensible as with lots of other voices on the matter.  I have somewhere around 40 of my own lights plus dimmers and a light board to supplement more theater shows I do more infrequently of late.
That's good for me in that in design, I have a base or fall back on base of equipment I can pull from above what the house has.  Where I need specific equipment with specific features, I also have that gear to pull from and rely will work because I unlike the house do upkeep them.  Do I always use all the lights, cable, gel etc for all shows?  Nope, it would be more like having a few cans in the car to supplement what's needed for my design than me pulling into a theater and stripping the grid to install what I expect to be using.

Just a few thoughts on what is necessary and above that highlighting your performance in balance with some inventory of gear that you might or might not either need or always get paid to be using.
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