It’s great news. Your band got a gig somewhere near the foot of a festival bill. It’s your chance to play to the biggest audience you’ve yet faced. But hold on—you’ve never actually played on a festival stage before, and the adrenaline rush of a golden opportunity starts to dilute as it dawns on you and your fellow band members that you’re right back to where you were when you began playing live. You don’t really know where to start.
Who does the sound? How will they handle your unique brand of whatever it is that makes you future headliners? What about the drummer’s problems with the kit? What about the bass amp not being 100% reliable? What if you won’t even be using your own gear? All these and so many more questions.
We asked two veteran sound engineers and tour managers, Bryony October and Mark Portlock, for their advice. Bryony has over 20 years experience working with top bands and artists, including Snow Patrol, Laura Marling, Foxes, and Billy Ocean. She is currently FOH (front of house) engineer for the multi-platinum-selling singer Katie Melua, the singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant, and the UK country duo Ward Thomas, as well as up-and-coming singer Lily Moore, daughter of the late Gary Moore.