By: Kelly Levstek
My co-worker, Eric and I took the truck to the State Theatre for a small rap show. Load in was at 1 pm, but we got their about 30 minutes early to get our barrings. The theater’s stage width seemed smaller than most I’ve seen, but behind the proscenium, the width is quite massive with plenty room in the wings for moving sets and backdrops.
At one o’clock, about six local stagehands helped us unload the truck and put our gear into the right areas. We talked to the house electrician and he allowed us to use the house feeder to power up our 100 amp power distribution. I then ran power to all of our amps, RF and IEM racks, and console. Front of House was taken care of by the house engineer Tom, who used the theater’s console and sound system, and we augmented subs. We then set up the subs and side fills, putting d&b B2 subs on their sides, stacked two high on the proscenium sides. Slightly behind the B2s we stacked two d&b C4 fills on top of two d&b C Subs for side fills.
Then, we ran all the cabling for the subs and side fills to the amp racks and finished setting up monitor world, making sure the splitter was patched and the helical antennas were run to the IEMs. Then, we set up 12 pair boxes by each of the DJs and ran quad boxes to them for power. A problem arouse when we didn’t have enough quads for all the DJ set ups, but lucky for us the stage hands were able to find some extra quads we could use.
After getting all set up, we had to wait a bit for all the DJs to show up and set up their gear. There was a bit of confusion about how many DJs would be there. We had only one spare monitor to use that we put behind the DJs, but they each wanted their own. After talking to the production manager, they decided that the one monitor would be fine but they wanted it to be off the floor so they could hear it better. So we grabbed our empty helical case and put the monitor on top so it would be closer to the DJs ear level.
Sound check started about an hour late with a few openers and DJs rehearsing. We never saw the main acts until they actually walked on stage during the show. After sound check we broke for dinner and had a catered dinner of salad, several types of wings, and fries. After dinner was over, we took our places for the show.
The show consisted of four local DJs that were to battle it out onstage, and then the performer’s DJs used the local DJs setup to do their thing when their performer came on stage. My job during the show was to keep an eye on the RF mics and make sure I handed them off to the right performers and got them back after the performers were done. I also checked to make sure the batteries weren’t running low and the mics were muted when I got them back.
The first opener was a young, upcoming rapper from Michigan, who was followed by a local rapping duo. Both performances went well with no technical errors, but the DJ battle was next and that’s when things started to get a bit out of hand. The DJs went back and forth showing off their skills and as things progressed, one of the DJs kept turning up his rig to be louder. It got to the point were we started to have feedback issues with their hardwired mics and the one monitor sitting behind them. Eventually we got the DJ to turn down a bit and managed to get a better stage volume. We also had a problem with the theaters communication system and were not able to effectively communicate to Tom at FoH. By the time the main acts came on stage, everything was going smoothly again. We had no problems the rest of the show and we actually managed to end the show on time.
The theatre had a strict curfew we had to follow, so once the show ended we quickly began to power everything down, unstack the PA and pack everything up. The local stagehands came back after the show finished and were a great help in getting everything ready to go onto the truck. Loading the truck was the longest part of our load out. We had to make sure we stacked everything well to make sure it would all fit. The stage hands got a little antsy and began rolling the gear onto the truck which made it a little difficult to maneuver in the truck. After getting everything packed and loaded we pulled out of the theatre at midnight right at curfew.
The rap show was a fun gig and a great experience for me, as I was able to see different aspects of production and how to interact with different departments, as well as working with the performers. I now have a better sense of load in/out and the set up and flow of a production. I am looking forward to working more shows and gaining valuable experience.