A true staple of rock and roll is a good old fashioned house show. The house show or house party can be enjoyed by high school garage bands and adult bands alike. Compared to more traditional venues, house shows provide a more intimate and inclusive atmosphere for both bands and audience members. While they may not always be as glorious as they are portrayed in movies, a well-run house show is a thing of beauty and actually takes a lot of organization to get right.
Aside from making sure the neighbors are going to be fine with the noise, moving furniture and valuable electronics out of the way, and buying enough chips and soda to feed a small army, you need to make sure the band or bands have all the equipment they need to perform. While it seems fairly simple, there are a few commonly overlooked items, especially by bands that have never hosted or played at a house show. Whether you’re throwing the party in your living room, or you’ve been invited to play at your neighbor’s backyard 4th of July BBQ, here are some items you should make sure are present at your house show.
- A suitable PA setup. Because most music venues provide a PA system for their performers, it usually isn’t something that musicians have to worry about while loading up the truck for the gig. As such, it’s easy to take it for granted and forget a good PA system, including speakers, a mixer, and power amps is absolutely essential for the show! While you may not need to buy a complete column array system to throw a killer show, (although it would help with feedback and coverage) you do need to ensure your PA system has adequate power to handle vocals and any other instruments that need to be mic’ed up. A battery powered PA solution like the S600B and its S648 extension speakers will work wonders in this situation with its power, portability, and built-in mixer.
- Monitors. You might not need monitors if you are playing at lower levels, since house shows usually take place in a relatively small area, but not hearing yourself can blow out your voice very quickly. The intimate setting also has you talking to everyone before playing, so you may be stressing your voice already before you even start playing. Band members can most likely hear themselves and one another through just their amps, so monitors can be mostly for vocals. Having monitors available can really help when a vocalist needs to hear him or herself more clearly or when a drummer needs a wedge next to him to hear well. Trying to use the main PA speakers as monitors also can create feedback and audience coverage issues.
- Enough outlets. Between all the amps, pedalboards, and aforementioned PA equipment, your living room is going to run out of outlets quickly. Invest in some quality surge protectors to not only provide more outlets, but make sure that everyone’s equipment is protected. Better yet, if you have a power conditioner, this would be the perfect time to put it to use. Also note: a house is not usually wired to provide high power in any one room. Often a living room may have a few outlets, but they are all on the same single 15 Amp breaker. If you can, try to separate a few items like the PA and individual amps to separate breakers. Usually two 15 Amp breakers can handle a band and a small PA for a house show. The older the house the older the breakers. If one pops, reset it, but move an amp to the other breaker or find a third. Running an extension to a garage outlet can help, because these are usually wired a little better.
- Microphones and XLR cables. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many singers either don’t own their own microphones or don’t bring them to gigs, as most venues provide them. Make sure that an ample number of vocal microphones are available for the show, and don’t forget the XLR cables! If your house is actually a mansion and you need to mic up some instruments, be sure to have instrument mics on hand as well.
- Sound proofing. If you’ve got a heavy metal band playing in your living room, it might not roll over well with your neighbors (no matter how cool they are!) Live, amplified bands are loud, and the sound from all of the band’s instruments can bleed through walls and travel long distances, especially bass guitar. A house show would be the perfect time for your drummer to bust out that drum shield he’s always wanted to try, or have your guitarists experiment with getting their dream tone at a lower volume ( good luck with that!) While it’s not possible to soundproof your house show without building a soundproof room within your living room- literally- do your part to control excessive volume from the bands. Tell them to turn down, if necessary, and if you have a basement, please use it! It can still be a house show if it’s not technically in your house. One trick is to tell the singer you can’t hear them because the guitar player is drowning them.
Got any awesome house show stories? Let us know in the comments!