Load Out Begins Immediately Upon Load In

Everything is prep for something else.

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The opinions expressed are mine only. These opinions do not necessarily reflect anybody else’s opinions. I do not own, operate, manage, or represent any band, venue, or company that I talk about, unless explicitly noted.

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You may not have known this, but loading in and loading out aren’t different processes. They are the same thing. Setup and teardown also share this behavior.

Basically, every part of doing a show is the preparatory step for what comes after it. If you’re lazy about the prep (and we all get lazy from time to time), you are making the next bit harder.

For example, let’s say that you load in a show with gear going absolutely everywhere. It’s spread out all over creation. There’s no plan, at all, for how things should be grouped. It all looks like a giant two-year old was given a set of blocks that look like flightcases, amplifiers, and storage tubs, and that two-year old suddenly decided the world was unfair and threw a major fit.

Nobody knows where anything is, exactly. Not even you.

How do you think setup is going to treat you, starting from a place of chaos?

If setup treats you poorly, how will the show go?

If the show goes poorly, as most amalgams of entropy and stress tend to do, how will teardown go?

If teardown is a ball of stress, sullenness, “I don’t care, just throw it in,” and general capitulation, will loadout be easy on you?

What will the next show be like, probably?

Problems cascade. It’s just like breaking a microphone’s cable: For that microphone, every other connection is effectively broken. If any part of the show is afflicted with disorganization, every other part of the show will suffer from the effects.

On multiple occasions, I’ve been told that I run a very tight stage. That is, I try to start with things in a neat and orderly configuration. I’ll tell you right now that such habits, for me, are not just about aesthetics. Yes, I do appreciate the look of a clean and organized show. I’m aware of the “political” implications of presenting that kind of setup to musicians, and I think those implications are worth the effort all by themselves. However, it’s also about survival, plain and simple.

There are people in this business who I term “sound ninjas.” They can take any mess and make it functional in the space of a few seconds. I’m not so skilled as to pull that off. I have to be able to understand what’s going on with the rig, and have some “homework” done if I’m going to do a decent job at selective noise-louderization. If the system looks like some giant violently vomited black spaghetti and steel poles all over the place, I’m going to have a bad time.

So, I try for the opposite, because I want to have a good time.

…and, of course, any show will involve the setup racing towards the maximum possible entropy. If the system’s entropy – the chaos and disorder involved – starts as low as you can get it, then its end value will be as low as the circumstances allow. If the entropy starts high, it’s only going to get higher by the time you’re ready to pack and leave.

Pack the boxes neatly, and it will be easy to find things at the next setup. It will also be much easier to setup in an organized way.

The show will be pulled off much more easily.

The end level of disorganization will be lower, making it easier to pack neatly.

Pack the boxes neatly, and it will be easy to – (You get the idea.)

The time and effort required to make a show happen can not be created or destroyed. It can only be transferred around. Spread it evenly, and the process stays manageable. Pack it all into one huge lump, and you may not be able to handle it all.