Probably the most under-appreciated aspect of playing live is the load-in, the hauling of gear and set up. Oh, and don’t forget about breaking down (in production terms = the strike). The responsibility of schlepping gear almost always falls on the individual musician, unless of course they have a kind friend, groupie, spouse, or other that offers help. Otherwise, it seems like you’re always on your own. However, there is something to be said for those first few gigs of your life where the load-in seems exciting. But that is typically short-lived!
There are those that will say it can be therapeutic to lug gear into the venue and do the set up, providing time to calm nervous energy, think about the performance, and get into the stage mindset. But let’s be honest, by serving as your own roadie you are taking away time from other things you may want to be doing with that time. From loading your vehicle to go to the gig, finding convenient parking, unloading, carrying the gear inside, and the whole set up process, it’s a lot. Sometimes you’re absolutely exhausted before the first note of the show is even played!
Depending on the venue instructions, the layout of the place, and other variables, the load-in can also be tricky. If load-in is during customer operation hours you may be contending with a crowd of people in the path to the stage. Or if at a restaurant, you may be carrying equipment past tables of people eating. That always feels rude. If it’s a double-bill of bands, you could be competing for space to store gear and cases. The dynamics change from gig to gig.
Finally, the end of the gig comes and there’s nothing like decompression time — that relaxing period to speak with friends, maybe have a drink, and simply breathe…but no, need to strike and get out!
Being your own roadie is overrated! Would you agree?