10 Things You’ll Learn as a Concert Stagehand
When people attend a concert, rarely do they look at the stage and think, "I wonder who set this all up!" While their job is often thankless, stagehands play a huge role in bringing these shows to life. As a stagehand, you’ll perform a lot of manual labor, unloading and loading trucks full of gear, decorating the stage with props, cleaning up at the end of the day, and so on. But that work is all worth it when you think about the artists whose dreams you're supporting and the smiles you help bring to the faces of countless music fans. If you're new to this tough but rewarding career, we're here to provide you with some guidance that will help you get through the adjustment phase. Here are ten things you'll learn during your time as a concert stagehand.
Come into work with a gung-ho attitude—this will help you and everyone else succeed. Setting up a venue is a lot of work and requires many minds and hands. Do your job, but also help your fellow crew members whenever you can. By working together, you can solve problems easier and get things done faster.
Be on Time
Another thing you'll learn as a concert stagehand is that you should arrive at the venue as early as possible. As they say, "15 minutes early is on time, and on time is late". Concerts are time-sensitive events. If you're late, the work will get done late. If the work is done late, the concert will start late. Not only will this upset your client and the fans, but it can also throw off the concert schedule entirely. An artist may have to cut a song, or the venue may even have to cut an artist, to make up for the lost time.
One great thing about being a stagehand is that you don't need to do a lot of guesswork. You'll be told exactly where you need to go and what you need to do. As long as you follow the directions you’re given, you'll be in good shape. Forgot a direction, or feel like you didn't hear it fully or correctly? All you have to do is ask for clarification.
Don't Know? Don't Assume
Don't know where to put the gear you're carrying, or where to turn your focus once you finish your current task? Don't guess or make assumptions. Your guess could be right, but it could also be wrong. And if your guess is wrong, you could send people on a wild goose chase for "missing" props or waste your time on a task that didn't need to be done at all. To ensure the workday goes as smoothly as possible, just ask! As a stagehand, your main role is to take direction, and people will happily give it to you.
Carry a Backpack
Never say you need to go back to your car for something. Keep all your gear in a backpack so you can access what you need quickly and easily. Your backpack should include the following essentials:
- A flashlight
- A multi-tool
- A pocket knife
- A hard hat
- A hi-vis vest
- Show blacks (black shirt and pants)
- Rain gear (if working at an outdoor venue)
- Electrical tape
- A wrench
- Mini bolt cutters
- Hand sanitizer
- A mask
- A mini first aid kit
- A notepad and pen
You can find all these items (sans electrical tape) here at Concert Shop.
Understand the Terminology
Like most industries, the music industry has its own unique terminology—most of which will make little sense at first. Fortunately, you'll learn as you go. But in order to do your job properly, it's crucial to familiarize yourself with the most common terms before showing up for your first day. Here are just a few you should know:
The musical instruments you need to set up on stage.
The dismantling of the stage and equipment between artists or at the end of the event.
When you unload and set up equipment.
When you pack up equipment and carry it out of a venue.
Everything that's needed for the show, like the stage, backline, backdrop, etc.
A musician's gear and instruments
These few are crucial to know and fairly easy to remember. If you come across terminology that you don't know when you start your job, don't be afraid to ask; someone will get you up to speed.
Know Where You're Going
What venue are you working at? Do you know how to get there? What area of the venue were you told to report to? Do you know your stage directions? If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, you need to figure them out. Otherwise, you could wind up driving in circles or wandering aimlessly around the venue while your client and the rest of the crew are left unexpectedly shorthanded.
Wear Proper Attire
Your uniform is like protective armor for your body; it protects you from hazards like heat and sharp objects, as long as you're wearing the right kind. Typically, crew members wear moveable, breathable black clothing, known as “show blacks”; a black t-shirt, black slacks or cargo pants, black canvas shoes, and no—or minimal—jewelry. We recommend wearing pants and shoes made from thicker, more durable materials (to protect you from scratches) and a lighter shirt plus a jacket for extra arm mobility. Depending on what you're doing, you may need to add other items, like a hard hat, knee pads, or gloves, to your outfit.
Have a Good Attitude
Sure, everyone has their bad days. But don't let them get the best of you. Sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy. Being down in the dumps and pessimistic doesn't just bring down the mood of everyone around you and make you hard to work with; it can also have a profound effect on your mental and physical health. Pessimism is associated with anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, hostility, and sleep disorders.
Even if you're having a bad day, try to look on the bright side. Work is what you make of it, so why not make it positive and fun rather than a drag? By having a good attitude, you can lift the spirits of those around you and get them pumped for the big event.
Above all else, stay safe. Your body is your most valuable asset. Make sure to wear the proper gear, follow directions, and if you notice a hazard, don't ignore it—notify someone about it so it can be dealt with. Don't know how to do something? Don't guess and risk hurting yourself. Stop and ask. It might feel like a blow to your pride, but this temporary discomfort is far less painful than pulling muscles or breaking bones.
If you’re just starting out as a stagehand or looking for new ways to make your job easier, Concert Shop has what you need. Shop our wide variety of utility workwear, which will help you safely and effectively perform your duties at any indoor or outdoor venue. For more information about concert events and helpful blogs with more advice, check out our website or email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.