Why You Should Always Scout Out A Venue First

Scouting out a venue is so incredibly important if you have any role in a gig. I have three real life scenarios below, from my experience, that will explain why. In each event, I had a different role and, in each event, because I hadn't done my research, issues could have been avoided.

Scenario 1 
The first event I'm going to talk about was my first event I put on. I organised the venue and put on a gig with a number of bands. The gig was moderately successful but the hours before were tense.

The reason for this was a miscommunication error. Somewhere down the line of communication, my request of a backline had been Chinese-whispered into my confirmation of providing one.

This led to a decent chunk of prep being used to source backline from the bands as well as myself. It cut into soundcheck and luckily didn't affect the rest of the night.

Had I gone to the venue the day prior or even a few, and chatted to the sound guy myself, it would have been a lot easier to catch the area of misinformation and solve it there ad then. Instead, all my dealings and organisation were via telephone.

Scenario 2 
This event was less dramatic but affected me in a different way. At a venue I was DJing at, it wasn't until a few minutes into the event that I realised that there were no monitors for me. This meant that, as it was a large room, I was beatmatching off all the reflections.

If you've never done this before, you will realise how hard it is to run a tight mix, as the reflections are always delayed. I had to "split-cue" my headphones, something I personally hate doing, and stare at my screen for much of the night just to keep the tracks tight.

In later performances at that venue, I made sure to bring my own monitors. The moral of this scenario I guess is to know the importance of hearing yourself. If you are at a venue where the nearest speaker is more than maybe five meters away, bring a monitor or arrange for one to be provided.

Me DJing with my custom monitoring system. (Not me)

Scenario 3
This was a fairly major issue resulting in more serious issues. The most recent event I was at, I led a sound team. This included being responsible for the mixing desk and the recording computer.

What was promised, was that the bands would be recorded and receive those recordings later on. That couldn't happen.

The reason for this was that the venue in question had never been used by us before. It was my intention to take a line out of the mixer for recording the event. Anything that came out the PA system, would be recorded.

Well, being unfamiliar with the venue, my team got to work, we'd already been screwed over by the management for not allowing us to soundcheck so it meant mixing the first band blindly. So there was no way for us to know the up-coming issues.

The room was so acoustically hot that the drums couldn't be put through the P.A at all. Same went for the guitar backline, the amps powered the room by themselves. It wasn't even that the bands were cranking their amps, it was just not an ideal venue for stage noise.

This meant that the only thing coming through the P.A system were the vocals and the bass (when the bassist on stage wanted a D.I).

Had a member of my team or myself gone to that venue prior to the event on a gig night, we would have seen the three faders up for a whole live band and realised that recording out the mixer would not be possible.

Needless to say, by the time we realised the recording was ruined, there was no time to fix or try another solution.