How To Set Up In A Club

Phil Hartnoll has roadies to set up his laptop.

DJ Tech Tools has a good overview of how to set up in a club.

Here are the highlights:

  1. Create a digital dj bag – that keeps all your needed cables inside at all times. Only take them out to setup and and put it right back when you are done.
  2. Space will be limited so always pack a laptop stand for your midi gear or a piece of grey foam cut to size.
  3. Use the CD player’s RCA cables to get your signal into the mixer. Instead of bringing your own cables, bring 1/4″ to RCA Barrel plugs (if you have 1/4? outs) and plug the CD lines directly into your sound card.
  4. Get your sound card and software up and running before you leave for the club.
  5. If you can- go to the club before they open. Especially if this is your first time in the place, getting there early will greatly reduce your stress and make you appear much more professional.
  6. If a sound check is not possible, bring a few short options of pre-mixed music. Instead of setting up while the opening dj is trying to mix, you can pop in a CD and take your time after he has exited the booth.
  7. Stay sober – booze is free and plentiful and may even be your only form of payment, but drinking will only make things even more confusing.
  8. Bring a penlight – the lighting always sucks!
  9. Take a deep breath, relax and let the songs play themselves. You will do great.

Most of this applies just as easily to electronic musicians as it does to DJs.

I’d add a couple of things:

  • Hook everything up at home and make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need. I set up in the front hall, away from my music room, just to make sure that I don’t forget anything.
  • Keep an inexpensive mixer in your car. This gives you flexibility to do just about anything.
  • Bring your own mics.
  • Bring an iPod and a mini jack to RCA cable. Load it with some tracks and playlists to fill time as needed, along with backing tracks in case your computer fritzes.
  • Bring a friend. They can keep you from f****** things up before the gig and tell you that you were awesome after the gig. This always makes things go better.

What do you do to get ready for gigs?

4 thoughts on “How To Set Up In A Club

  1. This post made me laugh because I had the craziest set up situation of my carreer this past weekend. I arrived at a military hanger in East Germany, it was so packed it took me 30 minutes to get to the stage area. When I got there to set up my live stuff there was only the DJ booth and that was completely full with turtables, etc… I had to set up over the equipment being used already. Here are the photos:

  2. i don’t DJ, but do live electronic shit. i try to leave as much “live” as possible (no audio mixdowns, etc) so i end up having a lot of outboard shit to haul around (controllers, rack stuff, ect). setting up outside of the studio and playing thru the full set is by far the best thing i can do. it forces you to make sure you have everything, but you still must account for the (many) unknowns… are you 30 feet from the mixer, but only have 25′ cables? amazing the silly stuff that always happens. always carry an “emergency bag” of every adapter X2 you can think of, spares of critical cables, DI box, and always more rig-to-mixer cable than you think you need. but perhaps most importantly, never forget to relax and have fun. and i think a scotch is perfect to have, but 5 scotches is not.

Leave a Reply