How To Rock A Festival!


Summer music Festivals create a huge opportunity for artists/bands to be exposed to a large amount of people in a single performance. Christian music festivals across the country become summer touring focal points. Most artists strive to grab those coveted slots in hopes of quickly raising their profile and following. Many are even willing to “pay to play”.

A few weeks ago, I attended the SoulStock festival in Decatur, Alabama. I was invited down to see an unsigned artist who put on a great show. The artist we went to see took advantage of the main stage slot, kept it simple, did what he does best and I’m guessing from the line at his merch table, created some new fans. A national Christian music act I had never seen live was next on the line-up so I stuck around to hear them. Even though they weren’t the headliner, I noticed they were using their own mixing console/sound engineer separate from the festival system. They also used their own drums instead of using the festival backline. Unfortunately, using their own gear didn’t bode well for the band as their sound was poor and took a noticeable drop in quality from the artists performing before them. While the band looked fantastic and worked the stage like rock stars, their sound man blew it. Their drummer didn’t use the backline kit which prevented him from using the drum riser and caused him to get a bit lost in the background. The drums didn’t have the kick that the festival sound engineer had dialed in with the festival backline kit. Those two things prevented the band from having a stellar show and left a bad impression on thousands of people. I’m sure they were trying to take their show up a level but a festival is the wrong environment to do that unless you are the headliner. Most festival house engineers spend an enormous amount of time dialing in the sound system. Don’t mess with that mojo!

We have worked with artists who rock the festival stage and others who have blown it. The key to rocking a festival is to keep it simple. Do what you do best and know the festival stage isn’t the place to add or try extravagant things. One of the top stage production managers in the business, Denny Keitzman, once said “adding extra stuff just because you are on the big festival stage is like walking on stage and pulling your pants down!”  I agree whole-heartedly with that wisdom!

Below are a few tips on how to rock a festival.

How To Rock A Festival!

– Use the house system and front of house engineer as they know the system better than anyone. They spend hours dialing in the system.

– Use your sound engineer to run the faders only. Let the house engineer take care of the heavy lifting

– Use the festival’s backline as they have it dialed in.

– Don’t add extravagant things to your show unless you are the headliner.

– Keep it simple and do what you do best