A while back I posted about “Your First Gig” in regards to working any kind of live or theater style gig. In light of the last couple productions that I have worked I realized that my gig bag was missing some key essentials here is my updated list.

Gig Bag Essentials

  1. Multi Tool. I personally keep one on myself at all time (it comes in handy… even for a web developer). I picked a Leatherman Wave. It is small enough and yet still offers the usability that I would expect in any high quality Leatherman. If you choose to get something different here are the characteristics of mine: Phillips/Flathead Screw Driver, Pliers, Knife, Serrated Knife and a Little Scissors.
  2. Board Tape and a Sharpie. If you run foh or monitors plan on bringing your own board tape. Masking tape will do just find in a pinch but will get gunky and gross. Nobody wants that on their board. You can also buy specific board tape that claims to be residue free. I have bought my first roll of board tape so I am curious to see how it preforms with outdoor season about to get going.
  3. Gaff Tape. Gaff tape is the only way to go. Most rigs will have gaff tape on them but I still bring a thin roll for little things (quick pinch for a band aid, tie down a hanging xlr, etc). Gaff tape is a life saver. I have used it for photography, projection and more.
  4. Macbook. This one is optional. I only bring it to theater gigs for the occasional multi-track recording via Reaper. This is also great for test playback. I usually have my Mac preloaded with several different playlists including easy going hiphop, rock, and jazz. I also use my Mac to access digital consoles to visualize meters, change settings and more. I do not bring my mac to outdoor or festival style gigs. There are too many people and way too much going on.
  5. Tablet. My tablet includes the same playlists that my Mac includes. I bring this to nearly all gigs. It is small and has 4G LTE access. It is great during waits to surf Facebook or to play fan favorites as background music in venues without wifi.
  6. Extra Clothing. Extra t-shirt, socks and a hoodie. Especially with the summer and outdoor gigs it is easy to get soaked. I should also mention that I try to wear blacks or darker clothes.
  7. USB Battery Pack. Many gigs are 20 minutes of craziness and 45 minutes of sitting around (if you are a stagehand). It is inherent that time spent on your phone is a great way to drain your batter. I picked some off brand USB Battery Pack that can hold several charges.
  8. USB Thumb Drive. Digital Consoles should be backed up especially with festival season. Multiple acts and several scenes. I also try to backup after every evening at a theater. This insures that I have a backup of a backup.
  9. Water. I always try to pack 2 water bottles. I interchange 1 of the waters with pop or coffee. Learning to drink black coffee is an art that I am working on and hey. It’s healthy or something.
  10. Snacks. Always bring enough to cover a meal if need be. I lean toward dried fruit and trail mix. Avoid foods that will make your hands greasy or sticky. Try to avoid buying food from the venue as it will likely be crazy expensive. I have ordered Domino’s or Jimmy Johns as it is cheaper than arena food. Identify any free meals or catering if you can. Plan out breaks and all of that with the other crew.

I hope this helps for a new crew member or just someone that needs a quick checklist for their gig bag. I left the obvious (phone, wallet, cash, etc). I also recommend a phone belt clip if you are prone to setting your phone down. Seriously. I can say that a belt clip is essential as I have had my phone stolen from events before. On a happier note the thief left the charger. Also get the insurance plan that covers theft. 😉

Happy Gigging