While singing along with Justin Bieber live, or rocking out with Guns N’ Roses in-person, chances are good you aren’t thinking about all that went into creating the stage that your fave artists are current rocking the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of.
You’re likely impressed by the construction, but wondering how each piece was moved, and where it is stored when not in use are things that probably aren’t popping into your head.
But, now that we’ve mentioned it, you’re curious, right?
We were too.
How is it possible to move and store these massive and impressive stages?
It’s not easy. We know because we chatted with some industry professionals that shared with us the journey these behemoth stages take.
So, let’s begin.
How it’s moved
It’s hard to even imagine the amount of equipment required for Justin Bieber show’s stage.
From the skeleton of the stage, to the top-of-the-line sound equipment, to the dance-tastic lighting, we are merely skimming the surface here.
You may think that all this equipment is lugged around from location to location during a major artist’s tour, but we were surprised to find that is not the case.
Todd McCarty, former SVP Sales at Sony Music, shares that “most of the major music acts don’t own the equipment used for their tour productions.”
“They rent everything from staging, lighting systems, amplifiers, pyrotechnics, and audio console and monitors from full-service rental companies,” he says.
Purchasing all the equipment for a tour just isn’t the best option financially-speaking, nor is it the most convenient.
“The people that do the heavy lifting and actually load off and on the gear from the semi trucks are locally hired stagehands that work for and are paid by the venue, not the band,” says McCarty. “The band negotiates this as part of their contract with the venue for each individual event.”
The crew that tours with the band, often referred to as stagehands and roadies, are the ones that help in setting up the gear and directing the local venue’s staff. This touring crew includes:
- Guitar techs
- Drum techs
- Stage managers
- Sound guys
- Lighting guys
However, the rest of the stage crew are all different from location to location.
James Vanko, Event Manager of Harvest Moon explained that “unless you’re doing a lot of events over and over again at a single venue, it doesn’t make sense to own your own stuff.”
Thus, the hiring of a local stage crew that loads everything off and on the giant semi trucks.
How it’s stored
Knowing that the same exact truck loads of equipment don’t follow Guns N’ Roses on their entire tour, we were curious to learn what happens to the equipment once the show is over, and the local crew takes the stage down.
Apparently, most of the stages are built out of 4×4 and 4×8 platforms. Says Vanko: “Staging companies buy hundreds and hundreds of 4×8 pieces and legs that go with them, and then they rent the things out.”
“It is very much like Tinker Toys,” he says, thus, “when you take everything apart, it actually stores quite nicely.”
Once disassembled, the equipment is loaded into gigantic semi trucks.
Then, it’s carried to SIR or STS (or another local staging company)’s offices. And, according to Vanko, “the storing part of the stage is the easy part.”
Into a giant warehouse it goes, until it is ready to be used again.
But, that giant warehouse (or warehouses) is worth mentioning. McCarty has visited SIR’s headquarters in Los Angeles, and has this to say about it: “It’s massive. I recall their buildings in this particular industrial complex took up three or four units, each the size of a football field.”
McCarty estimates that each unit measured in at around 20,000 square feet, and had ceilings boasting heights of 40 feet, all stacked with staging equipment.
Can you imagine that?!
It’s hard for us to fathom seeing that much equipment in one area, but we certainly know a thing or two about storing equipment on a smaller scale, among other things.
If you’re aspiring someday to be the next Justin Bieber, or Guns N’ Roses, and need somewhere to store your show equipment between shows, look to Closetbox.
Closetbox’s valet storage service picks up your items to be stored, and takes them to a safe and secure storage area until you’re ready for your next show.
Because even if your mom doesn’t think so, we believe that you can make it big with your music someday.