How to Play in the Rain

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Playing outdoors is festive and fun for musicians and fans alike. At the same time, playing in the rain can turn into a major headache for a band. It does not take much water to cause expensive damage to musical gear and equipment.

Preparation

  • The worst thing than can happen at an outdoor gig is being caught off guard and unprepared. Always check the local forecast before heading to the gig. If rain is in the forecast, throw a few tarps, bungee cords and duct tape in the van along with the equipment.

Set Up

  • Rainy conditions may require changing the stage set-up plan. It is essential to protect the equipment and the musicians as much as possible. You obviously do not want to play on an open, unprotected stage with rain falling down on you. Playing a major festival or a outdoor event with a permanent stage usually offers protection or cover for the band. At the same time, it may be necessary to move the equipment toward the center of the stage and away from the edges of the stage. The burden for protecting equipment often falls upon the band for smaller outdoor events. Outdoor vendor shelters work well for small stages as they have a canvas top on a folding metal frame. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A second option is to make a temporary cover with a tarp large enough to cover the stage area. Secure the tarp with bungee cords. Consider moving the stage indoors if that is a viable option.

Protect the Equipment

  • Strong winds may cause the rain to attack the stage from different directions. Speakers, amplifiers, guitars, pedals and other gear can become saturated with rain even if the stage is covered. Cover the PA speakers with tarps and secure the tarps with bungee cords or duct tape to prevent the wind from blowing the tarps loose. Guitar pedal boards are at risk because they usually are at the front of the stage and more vulnerable to the rain. Cover the pedal boards with plastic. Stop playing if the rain becomes heavy; turn off the power and cover the equipment with tarps. Wait until the storm subsides before removing the tarps. Push standing water off the stage with a broom before turning the power back on.

Rain-Out Clause

  • Outdoor gigs always have an element of risk because weather can be unpredictable. Sometimes weather conditions simply are too dangerous and severe for a musical event to continue as planned. Canceling a gig is disappointing to the musicians, the fans and the promoter sponsoring the event. There are two options if the rain becomes too severe: move the gig indoors or cancel it. Include a rain-out clause in your contract if there is not an indoor alternative. The clause ensures the band gets full or partial payment for the gig.

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  • Photo Credit Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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