How to Be Awesome at Stage Lighting for Bands

Stage Lighting for Bands

When you think of stage lighting for bands, the first thing that comes to mind is arena-sized shows with elaborate professional displays run through giant complex controllers. Stage lighting for bands does not have to be limited to complicated (and expensive) displays. Recent advances in lighting technology have made it possible for even local clubs and touring bands to set themselves apart (and give audiences an amazing experience) with unique lighting.

For bands or club owners looking to venture into the world of stage lighting, the first step is figuring out what you want to do with your lights:

  • If you are just looking for a solid, static wash of color, you can easily accomplish this with floor standing or mounted floodlights, no other equipment needed.
  • If you want several colors, and the ability to to change them during the show, a good choice is a few light bars. These can be operated with a remote control that a band member can manage while on-stage.
  • If you want more power and more options, you will want to consider running intelligent LED lights via a digital, or DMX controller. This gives you almost endless options, but requires a greater investment of both time and money, and possibly even help outside of the band to run the lights during your show.

Now that you know what you want, it’s time to start looking for the lights and accessories that your venue or touring band will need. While you are assembling your new stage lighting plan, here are 6 things to consider:

  1. Figure out your budget. The three points above should help you determine what equipment you need, and there are numerous price points within each category. Make sure that you leave a little room for training and customizing from your suppliers and contractors like an electrician.
  2. What Logistics that you will be working with? What do you have space for on stage? How much power will you need, and how much do you have? Intelligent LED lights can offer numerous features and options while consuming very little power. If you are a touring band, consider the weight, durability, and set-up/tear down time of any potential lighting system.
  3. Do the safety dance. Does your venue have drop ceilings or unstable vintage plaster? Make sure that any ceiling-mounted lights are properly and permanently attached. Check that any light stands will be sturdy enough to handle an active band and audience.
  4. Consider a controller. If you want to get the most out of your investment into new lighting and equipment, you need a DMX controller, or console, in order to tap into their full potential. Controllers have multiple channels that can be used to control multiple lights either manually, or in pre-programmed sequences.
  5. Understand the advantages of upgrading to LED lights. Everyone knows that LED lights use much less electricity than their traditional counterparts, and this can be essential if you are performing in less than ideal situations such as small clubs or outdoor events. Many LED lights can be powered with batteries, and several can be connected to a 20 amp circuit without a problem. LED fixtures also give off very little heat, which can make performers more comfortable and avoid the risk of burns or equipment damage. They also have almost unlimited color variety, excellent longevity, and are much more durable than traditional lamps with filaments.
  6. Look into additional effects that can enhance your lighting. Tools like Fog Machines, Haze Machines, Bubble Machines, and Snow Machines are particularly dramatic when used in combination with the right lighting. A Haze Machine, or “Hazer” is similar to a fog or smoke machine, producing a very fine haze that’s designed to emphasize the beams of your lights. It won’t irritate certain audience members like a smoke machine can, and it is much less likely to set off smoke alarms. Always ask permission from the venue manager or owner before using any of these effects.

Have you seen a band with an amazing lightshow, whether in a huge venue or a tiny club? Let us know in the comments!

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