Sound Advice - To Load In or Not To Load In? That is the Question / by Prewitt Scott-Jackson

Yours truly loading out on Sunset Blvd w/ the legendary Harry Perry

Yours truly loading out on Sunset Blvd w/ the legendary Harry Perry

This is FWN's 'Dear Abby' column: musicians send us questions, we post them with answers and a fun made-up pseudonym.


Dear FWN,

My band is never on time for ‘load in.’ Not being hyperbolic, I mean never; as in not one single time. I have two questions:

      1.       Is load in even important?

      2.      If yes, how can I get the rest of the gang there on time?

Forever in your debt,

Rattail McGuffin


Mornin’ Rattail,

Thanks for writing in. The answer to your question depends on who you’re asking.

For instance, apparently load in is not important to your band. And that’s cool 'cause responsibility and all that is def. NOT cool ergo your band does not show up on time for load in. I get it. 

If you have band members running late due to work obligations, family obligations etc. that's a different story. Cover your band mates and load their gear for them, no biggie. You can also email or call the promoter to let them know you're running late.

It sounds to me like your band falls into the former category of simply not giving a shit. Again, I get it. I don't give a shit about most things ... just don't expect everyone else to 'get it.'  



The promoter, the venue owner, the sound tech and the other bands all need you to be there on time for load in. 15-30 minutes late? No worries, a little tardiness is to be expected, honestly. But much more than that? Ruh roh. 

Here's why a punctual load in matters:

1. Generally speaking, being on time for load in is a sign of respect to the club owners and promoters. It will endear you to them. You want them to book you again, no? 

There's more serious implications to this as well. Think of load in as a restaurant reservation; being on time for load in guarantees your place on the bill because: "if your entire 'party' is not here I can't seat you." I've seen bands pulled from bills for being late to load in. Load in is akin to check in, after that, you're free to do whatevs for the next couple hours.    

2. Being on time for load in affects the sound tech and other bands tremendously. If you are playing last, or even next to last, often times you will be asked to back line. Hence you'll need to back line prior to the first band setting up their gear on stage. Preferably you back line AND soundcheck prior to the first band setting up on stage.  

Definitely need to show up in time for load in if this guy is your drummer

Definitely need to show up in time for load in if this guy is your drummer

One of the things you positively cannot do is load in gear during the set of another band. Not cool. I've seen people knifed for lesser offenses.   

If you have your own lights, or laptop that needs to direct in, or any other specific requests for the sound tech, these issues can be easily addressed and achieved with a punctual load in.

Part II of your question requires some salesmanship, and in some cases, outright manipulation.

Outright Manipulation: The simple way to get your band mates to show up on time? Tell them load in is an hour earlier than the posted time.

If load in is 8:30pm, tell them 7:30pm. It's evil I know, but I swear by this method and seen it bear many a punctual load in fruit. They'll either be on time or early. I've gone as far as editing the email from the promoter before forwarding to the rest of the band; just go in the email body, change it to an hour earlier and thank me later by buying me a beer at the next local show.

Salesmanship: Make load in fun! Sell them on it! If your band mates are into recreational drugs (of course they are), incentivize them with a fat pre-game blunt!

Load in is also a great time for you to get to know the other bands in your scene. Hell, load in downtime is how most scenes are created; it's where bandships are forged!

Lastly, I've always had this idea of hosting a Load In Olympics. Ya know? Like tug at their competitive spirit as a way to get them to the gig on time.

So about this Load In Olympics idea, I'm thinking of hosting and filming it at a local spot. 5 or 6 bands have to load the same gear using the same vehicle, loading on to the same stage - ya know, controlled variables and all. We time their load in and load out.  

Each band will have to load up the van first, untimed. The Tetris-nomics of van loading is a craft of wizardry in and of itself, plus how each band chooses to load the van determines how well they'll fare during the timed portion of the event.

Then you record the times of each band from opening the van door up until sound check.

The load out event has a completly different feel to it. It's later at night, you're tired, likely drunk or high. Everyone keeps talking to you. Higher degree of difficulty for sure.        

In between you could have events like: 8x10 Ampeg Bass Cabinet Deadlifts, Guitar Cable Detangler Speed Trials, Small Talk The Door Guy Relays, Funniest Mic Check One-Liners, etc.

Look Rattail, I never promised this would be easy. It never is. 

Hope this helps Bro Namath,

Regretfully yours,



about the word writer person:

Prewitt Scott-Jackson writes Dad poetry & short fiction when he's not hyping and typing for Fort Worth Noise. His writing can be found in Ghost City Press (New York), Five 2 One Magazine (Los Angeles), Prairie Schooner (University of Nebraska Press) and Sick Lit Magazine (Texas), among others. He prefers short walks on the beach because – and I quote – “It’s really hard to walk on sand.”