How to build a concert

A few years ago, a leading figure in the national music scene told me that there is such work behind some of the most important tours in our country that “people would hallucinate if they spent a single day on them.” The truth is that the number of people who work so that the ‘shows’ of formations such as Izal or Vetusta Morla come out perfectly, is scary. Along with the former, a group of about twenty people is currently traveling, among whom we find stage technicians, sound technicians or conductors, among other professionals.

Silvia González is the person in charge of coordinating the entire team. He has been working for months so that concerts like the one that the band gave last Thursday at the festival ‘La plaza’ in Santander can be carried out without problems and the group manages to make the audience fall in love.

– Izal is one of the national formations that currently moves the most public, how many people participate in each show of the group?

– Right now we are traveling about twenty-five people in each ‘show’, including the members of the band. Of course, there are many more people who work constantly with the group, such as the members of the ‘management’ office, who are in charge of closing the dates of the concerts or managing interviews with the media, among other things. . Compared to some international ‘tours’, Izal’s is still a small tour: in its time, I was part of the European tour of Soy Luna, a Disney series that was a success, in which, in addition to the Main artists, there were eight dancers, five musicians, fifty technicians, a tailoring team and six people dedicated to the production part, to manage everything.

– What is your role in Izal’s ‘shows’?

– I am the ‘tour manager’ of the group, I am in charge of coordinating the work and logistics of the band’s technicians. For example, from the ‘management’ office, we are given the dates of the actions that are closing and I take care of talking with the local promoters and transmitting our needs to them. Among my functions is to generate together with the technicians a document, known as a ‘rider’, with everything they need, including meals or dressing rooms. There is another figure with whom I work together, who is the ‘road manager’, the person who takes care of the members of the band: prepares the musicians’ trips, reserves their accommodation or manages that when they arrive at a place they have in the dressing room what they have asked for.

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– How were your first steps in the profession? How does a person train to be a ‘tour manager’?

– I studied Audiovisual Communication and, when I finished my degree, I did a module of Superior Technician in Audiovisual Production and Shows. I was doing an internship in a large company in the sector, I worked for festivals such as the FIB or SOS 4.8 and at the beginning of the year I joined the Izal team.

– When you arrive in the morning at the venue where you are going to hold a performance, what is the first step you take?

– The events have their own technicians, with whom we have to coordinate at all times. As we arrive at a site, for example, our sound technicians go to the local sound technicians, so that they can explain how everything is set up, although they had already been informed in advance. In Izal we have Antoñito and Mike working on the sound, Gonzalo and Javi on video and production, Joel, Abel and Pablo managing the lights, the latter also lends a hand in realization during the gig, and Rober and David as backliners. ‘, who are in charge of changing the musicians’ instruments during concerts and ensuring that they are in perfect condition. One part of my functions consists of reaching agreements with everyone: from lighting they tell me their needs in advance and I send them to the promoter of the event, he sends me a diagram of the lights that they can provide me and I go back to meet with our team to see if they serve us, if we can adapt or if we have to make any request.

– On concert days, what is the plan of the day? What time do they start to assemble everything?

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– A few days ago we were playing in Salamanca and, as it is close to Madrid, we left at eight in the morning to start riding at eleven. Normally, we try to get everything ready before three in the afternoon, as group members usually perform the sound check from five to six. In the end, we don’t stop all day. When the concerts start at ten o’clock at night, we usually finish around two o’clock, since, after a gig, it takes us about an hour and a half to dismantle and collect everything. Musicians tend to travel later than technicians, until the sound check they do not need to be in the venue.

– In Santander they performed together with Maren, one of the most interesting young artists in our country. When you play with other musicians or have an opening act, how do you coordinate?

– You have to go talking and negotiating with the people who are in charge of the pre-production of the rest of the musicians who participate in an event. Normally, the first person who touches is the last to do the sound check, as this leaves their things already assembled on stage. After an opening act ‘show’, we usually have about half an hour to switch between one artist and another, to reassemble part of our team. We usually use platforms with wheels, which allow us, for example, to change one battery for another in a moment.

– How do you make the trips?

– If we have a single concert, we travel by van and stay to sleep in a hotel, but, when we have two bowls in a row, we go on a ‘sleeper’, a bus with beds that allows us to leave for our new destination as soon as we finish a ‘show’ and go sleeping along the way. Musicians always try to travel in a van or train, since they do not have the need to be at the venue early in the morning and it is the most comfortable. The management office is passing us the dates of the actions that are closing in advance, even long before they are announced, because in the end we have to plan in advance how we are going to move and in which hotels we are going to stay, also taking into account that the sooner we look for accommodation, the cheaper it will be.

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– Have you had bad days? What has been your worst day with Izal?

– The truth is that it is very rare that everything goes perfectly. There are always things that go wrong, but luckily we haven’t had any serious problems yet, we haven’t had to cancel a concert. Yes, on several occasions it seemed that the assembly was perfect and, suddenly, in the sound check things failed. That is why we try to do everything in sufficient time.

– Izal resumed this summer the farewell tour of his album ‘Autoterapia’, which he had to interrupt due to the pandemic. The truth is that they are having quite a few concerts, right?

– Since we started on June 18 at the Sports Palace of the Community of Madrid, we have not stopped. On Saturday we were in Vitoria, on Tuesday in Salamanca and tomorrow we will be in Bilbao. This summer we will do more than twenty ‘shows’, something that is not bad at all. I wanted to see the band live again: for example, in Madrid we did two bowling for 5,000 people and the tickets were sold out. The pandemic was very hard, since the formation had a long mounted tour, but they could barely do three or four dates. Many people had been working hard for months and investing a lot of money in something that could not be done. Last year I was working for the Mad Cool festival and, at first, we thought that by summer everything would be fixed and that the event could be held. The festivals continued with people on staff until well into the spring, as stopping pre-production meant having to cancel an event in which they had invested a lot of effort and money.


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