Power Play

Power Play

Photo by Sixth Lie

As I sit here on the couch, listening to the sound of the young electrician upstairs repair some very old wiring, I am reminded that power—as in the electrical sort—is one of the many seemingly small issues that are often and easily overlooked when organizing concerts. The availability of adequate electricity is one of those things that should never be assumed—in much the same way that one cannot assume that the piano in the concert space (especially if it is in a club, bar, art gallery, or other non-traditional setting) will be accurately tuned.

Neglecting to check into power needs can lead to all sorts of bizarre scenarios such as having to run a string of extension cords to an entirely different room of a church in order to power anything in the actual performance space, having to assemble sound equipment in wildly inconvenient locations such as behind a stage or in the garden (!), or mad searches in the wee hours of the morning for power adapters at the nearest Radio Shack. Admittedly, this is all probably easier than finding a piano tuner at the last minute, but it is nevertheless worth some pre-planning.

Having experienced at one time or another all of the above and more, I have finally learned to always store in my gig bag a good quality surge protector, heavy duty extension cords, (usually of a couple different lengths), and a circuit tester. Yes these things add some weight to the load of gear, but it’s kind of like carrying an umbrella—the one time you don’t bring it is the time it rains!

This is not just an issue for artists making purely electronic music by any means—it is important for anyone using a computer, stereo, or anything that is plugged in to a wall socket. It is easy to become so enveloped in the process of creating music that you forget to consider the practicalities involved in making the music happen. When you are outside of your normal working space, think about what needs to be plugged in, and how you might handle a less than ideal situation.

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One thought on “Power Play

  1. smooke


    I’d love to add my second to this advice. I’ve been there. At a major university in their main recital hall. Now it’s high on my checklist. Seems like such a simple thing and yet….



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