Going on support tour can generate loads of response and great positive reinforcement on various channels. If you play it right, you collect new supporters, experiences, sell CDs and merch while learning from bigger and more seasoned productions – but only if you avoid the 5 biggest support tour mistakes.
Each support tour runs differently, with some crews acting very inclusive, others more restrained. You don’t really have an influence on the external people you travel with – what you CAN control through, is the way you prepare for and act on a support tour.
The more professionalism you display in the course of the gigs, the more respect and positive vibes you will obtain. To make sure your endeavor runs smoothly, I’ve collected some classic mistakes that any fresh support crew is likely to make – so you can avoid them and hit the road well prepared and on par with any challenge that you might experience.
Let’s start off with the pre-gig game:
The campaign before the campaign
Preparing as much social media content and especially ideas prior to hitting the tour as possible can and will be a true lifesaver. The last thing you want to do when hitting the road is squeeze in time to constantly come up with new content ideas, keeping it fresh and diversified on a visual level.
Try working up a content plan that contains various forms of sujets and activities, not limiting yourself but merely preparing possibilities. This could be live hotel sessions, fan moments, potentiallive imagery or backstage commentary.
Obviously, many great things happen spontaneously – so prep your musicians that one key-goal of a tour is going to be the collection of great social media content. They will be a lot less surprised when you whip out your phone, knowing that this is a vital part of your tour.
Also – make sure you have all the technical equipment ready. You need a tripod for you cell-phone? Don’t wing it on the road – get that ready before leaving and safe loads of hastle.
Campaign before the campaign means:
1) collecting content ideas
2) briefing the crew
3) preparing the technical side
Working on different pages
The ideal support-band scenario is – everyone is on the same page and follows the same live routine with no questions asked.
The reality often boils down to petty little arguments on stage concerning timing and procedures. Make sure that the musical crew – from musicians to technicians – are down with the same form of routine. Experienced bands that have traveled on several support tours have very distinct routines that work for them.
An important task of support gigging is finding out which groove works best for your team and working accordingly. If you monitor sound is a delicate issue – plan in some extra time for that. Try to be aware of possible crunch-points that just need more attention and patience.
Work on the same page and develop a groove!
Familiarity is a luxury, not a a given
Big productions often have loads of support crews along the way – multi-national acts even for each country.
Try not be offended or somehow alienated, if a band or crew doesn’t completely warm up immediately. Remember, you are tagging on to a routine, and even though this might be one of the highlights of your year, for a big production it’s just another gig in another town. If you do your job right, don’t cause a lot of extra hastle for the crew, then people will be sure to open up and share some warm, familiar moments.
Keep in mind, though, that getting close to a headline-crew is definitely a luxury, and if they warm up to you in a sense that seems almost amicable, it ?s a temporary luxury, not a given that you will experience on every future support tour.
Introduce yourself to the technicians
Its great to get to know the main-acts – often you dig their music and want to get to know them right away.
Equally and maybe even more important than hitting up the artist, though, is making a great first impression on the technical crew, basically the people that are in first, and out last.
You’ll want to get on the warm side of the technicians because, if everything runs well, they’ll be the ones helping you set up shop around each new venue and stage. This means timely sound-checks, making your life easier during load-in and out’s and basically just everything revolving around the carefree realization of your production.
It really makes a difference, if you enter a support tour and go around acknowledging each and every person – introducing yourself and making sure you know what their function is within the production.
Not only will you give them a feeling of being respected, you will have an instant overview of who’s who, which is basically a must if you want things to run well along the tour.
Be a clean camper
Being a support act – even though you might argument the necessity of your role in terms of “heating up the crowd” or “kicking things off” – is a luxury, that most main acts could just as well do without.
Having this in mind, try to treat your venue surroundings with the respect they deserve: Nobody appreciates a messy support act, ravaging around the catering or backstage and basically imposing their style of behavior upon their environment.
Even though you might think nobody is watching, while the act and band are already in the bus – the tour managers usually notice EVERYTHING. It’s their job.
Word travels fast, and you just don’t want to be that band with a reputation of causing a mess and chaos wherever you go.
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