7 tips for outdoor performances

Posted on: 13 July 2018

Band playing on an outdoor stage

Summer is well and truly upon us, and that means more and more performances are moving outside. As experienced musicians will know, playing outdoors is a completely different ball game to playing inside a concert hall or gig venue. It’s a lot of fun, but it comes with its own challenges.

If you’ve never played outside before, or need a refresher, here’s our guide to help you through.

1) Check the weather

Yes, UK weather is drastically unpredictable, but it’s always worth having a quick check of the weather app on the morning of your event. Just because it’s summer, it might not be warm – or dry. If rain is forecasted, make sure you bring the necessary wet weather gear with you for yourself and your instrument/equipment – and don’t forget your wellies!

Different types of weather

Woman wearing a sunhat

2) Wear sun protection

Don’t underestimate the British sun. You might not be lucky enough to have a shady stage or performance space, so make sure you’re wearing sunscreen, and bring a hat and sunglasses.

3) Hydrate

When you’re performing, you’ll need more water thank you think you do. Make sure you drink water before you go on stage, and bring some to the stage with you, especially on a warm day. If you’re playing at a festival, the nearest shop, bar or water fountain might not be particularly close to where you’re performing, so be prepared and don’t get caught out. 

4) Make a pit stop before you play

If you’re playing at a festival, you’re likely to be at the mercy of portaloos. These could be on the other side of the site to the stage, and they’ll probably be busy. Make sure you locate the toilets when you first arrive on site, and stop by in advance of your performance. 

Portaloos in a field

5) Dress appropriately

Depending on the type of performance you’re doing, you might have a particular dress code to adhere to. If not, wear something comfortable and suitable for the weather that day. You might also want to bring a change of clothes with you, if you’re going to be sticking around after your performance to socialise or watch other acts.

Electric guitar and amp

6) Allow time for soundcheck

Ever been to a summer festival and thought the sound was a little off? It’s pretty common – and unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do if you’re playing on a windy day. But what you can do is make the most of your soundcheck, and ideally have someone (other than the sound engineer) stand where the audience would be and give you a second opinion. If you don’t have a soundcheck scheduled in, ask the organiser if you can make time for one.

7) Wow the audience fast

If you’re playing during the daytime, you won’t have the added extra of lighting to set the mood, and the sound might not be the best you’ve ever had it. There are plenty of other stages people can wander off to at festivals, as well as stalls and other things happening, so you need to make an impression on the audience quickly. Start with a number that you know will catch people’s attention, and make sure the rest of your set is varied enough to keep the audience engaged.

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