De gustibus non disputandum est
And the world takes on an infinity of magnificent nuances precisely because of this assumption that leads each of us to have specific but totally different musical tastes from any other person. That is why we are bombarded with new dates, new events and, above all, new concerts.
We defy anyone to find at least one person who has not gone wild to the music under the stage on which one of their favorite artists or bands was playing. Because when the lights go out the focus is all on the music and those who give it to us, but nothing would be possible without the concert operators, that is, the staff on which the whole organization and realization of a live event rests.
But who are the concert workers?
We have already seen how, when it comes to concerts, the absolute protagonists are musicians and singers. Obviously without them the whole event would have no sense of existence, along with the whole entourage of supporting instrumentalists, dancers for choreography, managers and all those who are part of the show put on.
But in order for a concert to take place, there are many other professionals who move in the shadow of the spotlights or even direct them. They do not draw attention but make sure that everything proceeds according to the set list, for our enjoyment. They are the concert workers. Let’s get to know their different tasks.
Also known as a “Sound Engineer” or “Sound Technician,” is the figure who, as the name suggests, is responsible for mixing and managing audio during the performance. Compared to a studio technician, a live performance professional has many more duties and responsibilities that include positioning both audio and video equipment, as well as setting up and managing microphones, amplifiers, mixers, and other sound system devices. Given the handling of fragile and heavy equipment, safety footwear is required for this figure to decrease the risk of accidents and injuries;
Like the previous colleague, this professional’s name largely explains his duties. Also known as a “Lighting Technician,” he is responsible for the lighting design of the show and the management of equipment, such as projectors, stage lights, and visual effects;
As far as live concerts are concerned, the responsibility for setting up and maintaining the equipment on stage falls to a specific individual, with assistance from the preceding technicians. This person oversees all aspects related to the overall production of the show, as the management of instruments and the support of the artists are delegated to others.
Who, as anticipated, are the men behind the scenes on stage who act as technical assistants for each musician, assembling, disassembling and keeping the instrument entrusted to them efficient. They are a bit of handymen, recognizable by their all-black attire and workbags, workboxes in which they keep everything that may be useful on stage and beyond;
Not directly involved in the show, but crucial to its realization, these figures are the skilled workers who, equipped with ropes and safety harnesses, are responsible for assembling, disassembling and setting up everything above your heads. Steel cables, sound boxes, light spotlights and covers. Securing everything above is their job;
The figures best known to the audience as they are responsible for directing them to the concert area, trying to prevent dangerous situations and intervening if necessary. And that’s not all: the work does not only take place during the evening of the performance, but starts much earlier, to inspect the entire complex in which the show will take place.
And they don’t end there!
To every job its own footwear
There are so many professionals around a stage, and many of them have not even been mentioned in this article. This is because we have sorted through the professionals of a certain type, with one small detail in common.
Which one, you may wonder.
Of course, we are talking about shoes. What the figures have in common are heavy tasks or tasks that require many hours on their feet, such as moving and setting up equipment or having to run back and forth to fulfill every request of instrumentalists and singers.
The result is a necessary use of safety footwear, equipped with certain features that can keep the foot protected but without being uncomfortable or heavy.
This time we do not have a single shoe to recommend:
It would be impossible to find one capable of combining the endless demands of special jobs such as those described. Hardly the same shoe perfect for a rigger who works at altitude climbing between location structures will suit a backliner who, on the other hand, has much more contact with the ground, running left and right. Still, we have isolated common characteristics to keep in mind when choosing shoes should you choose to begin actively working in the creation of shows and concerts.
1. Anti-slip sole
Whether it is a particularly smooth floor or the surface of a scaffold, it is very important for the foot to be able to have a good footing from which it can then derive a good push. If we are talking about working at heights, a good sole capable of not slipping on surfaces is essential for working safely and having the confidence that in case of unforeseen incidents and accidents one can easily regain balance even far from the ground.
For behind-the-scenes figures, on the other hand, it is equally important to avoid falls and slips that could lead to injuries and accidents, especially if during a live performance that requires the utmost attention and alertness of all professionals involved, even in bad weather and inclement conditions. Especially for figures such as backliners, with the most hectic role, who never stand still and need to have excellent traction to quickly reach all the places they need to be, and stewards who often need to be ready and responsive even on rough and grassy terrain to act in case of imminent danger in the crowd;
2. Inner shoe protectors
Speaking of safety footwear, we certainly take it for granted that it has reinforcements on the toe of the shoe, at heel height and around the ankle. Putting extra protection at these delicate points ensures greater safety for the wearer, removing an unnecessary thought that doesn’t add to the mental burden of worries during delicate tasks that involve both working at heights and in contact with heavy moving material;
As we have seen there are several figures who play their role standing or moving. The perfect shoe will definitely have to take care of the foot with a sole and insole capable of cushioning the person’s weight and redistributing it to discharge it to the ground. By doing so, the lower joints and points of contact with the ground will experience less stress going to also decrease the incidence of leg and back pain and, therefore, accidents and injuries. A characteristic that concert operators share with health care workers, as we read in a previous article;
4. Durable and waterproof upper
Because no one can ever predict the conditions under which a live event will take place. How many concerts have been ruined by a summer monsoon? Soaked feet are not only a problem for spectators but also for professionals forced to walk and sink in mud. That’s why having an upper that is resistant to the wear and tear of heavy use but, more importantly, that doesn’t let water through allows professionals to stay focused on their work without the risk of early colds or announced slips due to the low friction of slippery surfaces.
Safety and comfort must come first when choosing a shoe, especially when it comes to working during a concert. A context that in itself already brings into account a disproportionate number of variables and contingencies that can happen from one moment to the next. So let’s start by putting our hands-or rather, feet-forward in order to anticipate a number of constant variables that every profession requires, from climbing to moving heavy equipment.
Have you taken notes? Even if you won’t be participating in the behind-the-scenes, be ready because there always comes a time to get wild. And the audience needs the right shoes, too.
Should we make a little vademecum for all spectators as well?nly Italian- of those who produce footwear for this discipline. True works of art produced by hand with love and dedication. A tradition that will always fascinate us.
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