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Why Banners are Important: Hang ‘em High

How to leave a banner impression

 

by David Himes - ‘The Gig Kahuna’

 

 

There’s a common, potentially devastating—yet easily fixed—mistake: playing gigs without a banner behind you. If you don’t think this is a big deal, think again. First, you need to let people know who you are. Many times I’ve seen local (or even regional and national) bands and thought to myself “self, they’re a good band, but who the hell are they?” Even when I ask the people who work at the venue, they often can’t tell me what band is playing.

 

And I’m just one person. Think of all the potential fans you might have won over who would like to see you again, but have no idea who you are—not to mention other people involved in the scene such as media, talent bookers, other bands, promoters, agents, label reps, radio jocks, and others who are there checking you out. You can’t rely on people to have telepathic powers, and you more than likely don’t have some sort of bat signal. So without a banner, you are seriously screwing yourself out of a lot of potential new fans and more. No band—at least on a local or regional level—should ever, under any circumstances, play a show without a band logo somewhere on the stage. The time, money and effort you spent playing that useless out-of-town gig for five people could’ve—and would’ve—been much better spent getting a banner happening.

 

Closely related to no banner is a band that has a banner, but it’s so poorly designed you can’t read it from a distance, in low-light situations such as a typical club stage, or you’re in a death-metal band with an eyeball-bending logo. (No offense to any death bands, but c’mon! Let’s be realistic.) But it never ceases to amaze me, the local bands who I’m sure mean well and might work hard, yet don’t think of something so simple, yet extremely important as having a banner, sign, or at least a band logo on a kick drum head.

 

So…where do you get a banner, and how much it will cost? Any sign shop should do a good job for you; chances are there’s one near you. But there are a few mom-and-pop-type sign and banner shops around that support local bands, so seek one out near your town and give them your business. Usually, $100-200 should get you a decent banner, depending on several factors.

 

For most bands, I strongly recommend white vinyl or ink on a black background, so it can be read easily from a distance and in low-light situations. Hopefully, your logo is easy to read. If you don’t have a logo, even having the sign shop typeset your band name is better than nothing. For most bands and situations, a banner about six to eight feet wide should do the job. But if your band has a long name and/or is a sentence, you might have a bit of trouble getting it all on a limited amount of space, and therefore need a bigger banner. A bigger banner might also be a good idea if you’re playing larger venues (such as theater-size).

 

I’ve seen a lot of bands with stand-up banners on each side of the stage. I know those bands mean well and those stand-up banners are better than nothing. The problem, however, is if you’re playing on a stage with even halfway-decent lighting, those stand-up banners block a lot of the lights—especially the taller banners. This is why I recommend banners hung on the back of the stage wall. If you insist on stand-up banners, at least place them as far back as you can to minimize light blockage.

 

So you’ve taken my advice and now you have a banner—but you also need to bring rope, twine, black duct tape, bungee straps, chain, coat hanger wire, hammer and small nails, etc. to every gig. The idea is to be able to hang it in any situation, as different venues have anything from nothing to decent stages to accommodate banners. Other ideas might include bringing your own lights of some sort to light up your banner. Even cooler yet is a lighted sign if you can swing it.

 

Trust me: A banner will make all the difference in the world on your future gigs. There’s virtually no excuse for not having one, and it’s a very small investment you’ll be glad you made.  -HC-

 

_______________________________________________


David Himes is the author of the book Realities for Local Bands: Talent is not Enough. You can find it at Amazon. For a FREE sneak preview, click here. The book is also available in PDF format. Also, David published a local music scene paper for over 16 years and has held over 400 live shows, giving him a unique insight on the scene. Your feedback and comments are welcome.

 

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Mikeo  |  August 25, 2016 at 9:50 am
I have seen countless touring band come through the area. One of the more popular clubs in the area is  Pearl Street in Northampton Mass. The Iron Horse Entertainment Group runs several other clubs too. In my 30 plus year of going out to Pearl Street, I saw one band in all those years have a banner. The band was Blackberry Smoke.  and I though to myself as I looked at the stage, with some very nice back-line amps and and gear, these guy might not be a household name, but it sure looks like they have some money behind them. Charlie and the boys from Blackberry Smoke pt on a killer show to a packed house.
I have a couple of acquaintances that are in local cover bands. They play around a lot and have for decades. They also have a banners. I'm not sure how much it really matter, as the folks that come out to see them, know the band well. If you doing an opening slot for a big act, there's a good chance you not as well known. I can't tell you how many times I actually didn't know the name of the opening act, until I stopped by there merch table. As an opening band you won't get that much time to set up or tear down, so you need to be fast, and ask in advance if you can hang a banner. Being polite never hurts.
All I can say, it for 100-200 bucks, it looks better and can cover up a world of sin or a dirty wall at a bar that hasn't been washed or painted in 25 years, giving your stage a cleaner appearance.
Don't forget the bungee cords and other hanging options, because if you have a banner, you're gonna want to hang it with pride.


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