A lot goes on during a day of being on tour. Everyone is working hard, working constantly, and most importantly – working together. Tour is a big traveling organism that only flows if everyone is working together. But what does everyone do? And when and where do they do it?
A Typical Day On Tour
People always ask “Well what is a typical day on tour like?” The truth is, there isn’t really a typical day on tour. Everything can change depending on …
- Size of artist you are with
- When is your time slot (opener, headliner)
- What type of venue you are at
- Is it a festival show?
For the sake of teaching, let’s try to average it out the best we can. At first, I thought maybe we could break it down by morning, afternoon, and night – but the schedule itself is relative to when the show is. So it only makes sense to break down a typical touring day like this
- Wake up/ Morning
- Before Load-In
Obviously, we go more in-depth on who is doing what during each time of the day on the podcast, but I’ll give you a basic overview of each section here to the best of my abilities.
Wake Up & Morning
This is the time where the tour manager is preparing the venue to be a workspace for their tour. They will hang signs up all over the venue that direct the crew, band, and anyone else who needs to navigate the venue. The venues are different every day so it’s important that everyone can find their way effortlessly.
The crew will probably be drinking coffee, the band/ artist is probably asleep or awake working out or doing whatever it is they want to do in the morning. The merch person operates independently of everyone and will probably just be setting up and counting in merch on their own for the majority of the day.
By this time the venue is all set up, the crew is awake and ready to work, and understands the venue. The band/ artist might be off doing press or still asleep. It really depends on who the artist is. The main thing to remember is the artist operates independently of the crew, they are not really doing the same thing unless it’s soundcheck or show time.
Load-in starts with what is called *the push*. This is where the touring crew works with the local crew to push all of the cases and gear from the trucks/ trailers to their specified area in the venue. Everyone works together to make this happen as fast as possible. After the gear is in the right area, the touring crew will take over and set up their specialized worlds.
After the crew gets their areas all set up, the band will meet at the stage for soundcheck. This is a time for not only the artist/ band to make sure everything works correctly – but for the crew to make sure everything is good on their end. The lighting designer will focus the lights, the front of house sound will make sure everything sounds right. Monitors will get checked on stage. The artist will run through a few songs and once everything is good, will move on with their day.
This is a time where the fans are let in, but there isn’t anything happening on stage. This time matters most for merch as this is when they start selling it!
Once the show starts the crew’s main job is to make sure that it continues to flow regardless of what obstacles may arise. Each tech will focus on their musicians/artists the whole show, ready to correct anything that goes wrong. The production manager will observe and regulate all of the production such as cryo, streamers, confetti, or fire. The lighting director and sound in front of house will make sure everything sounds and looks go in real-time.
After the show is over loadout starts almost immediately. The sooner they can pack everything up and get it on the trucks, the earlier they can get driving, and the more likely they will be on time for the next show. Everything happens in reverse order of loadout. Again the touring crew works with the local crew to make this happen in a timely manner.
After loadout is over – everyone takes a moment to just chill out and relax before calling it a night. This is everyone’s time to *return to normal*. Usually, people will have some food, a drink or two, and take part in whatever activity they enjoy. Maybe watch a movie, smoke something – really whatever creature comforts they want.
There will be a certain time called *bus call* and that is when everyone needs to be on their bus and ready to go. After the bus (or whatever vehicle you are traveling on) leaves you can continue to do whatever you want on it – however everyone is usually pretty exhausted and just called it a night.
There are a lot of moving parts at a concert. Every area is a work zone, and it’s important you know what is happening in that zone, even if you’re not the one doing it. This will help you navigate the workspace efficiently and respectfully. There is nothing another tech loves more than some good ol’ spatial awareness.