What to Do When the Show Runs Off it’s Tracks

lighting programming Oct 04, 2023

Picture this: You’re running through your setlist, down the agenda, or through the service flow….things are going well.  You’re hitting your cues, and your show looks great…BUT THEN!!!!

Something changes.

Suddenly, we are not in the land of the set list anymore.  We are now in no-mans land.  So what happens next?

What to Do When the Show Runs Off it’s Tracks:

The first thing that you need to do is this: don’t panic.  You’ve got this.

The second thing you need to do is be prepared.  With production, the question is not “will the show run off it’s tracks?”, but “when will the show run off it’s tracks?”

This is where building a small “punt page” of looks is very important, so that you always have somewhere to go when things get crazy.  Depending on your console of choice, this may mean building a cuelist, button, or fader for each look below.  What is the most important is that these looks must be easy to get to.

So, let’s dive into the video below for the “5 Lighting Looks You Need to CYA”:

1: Blue Dump

This look is essential for those times when the band decides it’s time to insert a slow song.  Maybe you have the song in your console, maybe not.  But either way, you can dump to this look while you figure out where to go next!

2: White Wash

Similar to the blue dump, this is for those times when the band suddenly calls for audience participation, or a DJ from the local radio station gets up to make a message, etc.

Whatever happens, it’s always good to have a go-to lighting scene programmed that makes the stage bright.  Because you never know what’s going to happen.  As a plus, this is also a great go-to scene to hit when you’re setting up and tearing down the band gear on a dark stage!

3: Red/Amber Look

What do you do when the band dives into a fast song that was totally unexpected?

On your way to scrambling for a cuelist that will work, you can drop into this look so that there is something on stage that at least matches the song a little.

Heck, you can make a whole song out of switching between the red/amber look and the blue look if you need to!  And then you can take it to the next level with:

4: White and Strobe

In this look, we turn everything white and put it into a random strobe pattern.  This is a killer look to hit in order to introduce a little energy.

This is for those moments where the band starts doing something dynamic that was totally unexpected.  You can quickly hit this look on-and-off every measure or so to make it look like you had this all programmed to begin with – and you did!

5: Bally-Hoo

Similar to white and strobe, the bally-hoo is a simple chase for moving lights that brings energy to the table when it’s unexpected.  Think of it as the “11” on a guitar amp – just like in This is Spinal Tap.

Seriously though, when you’re following through your song’s cuelist, and then the band goes and takes it to the next level unexpectedly, you’ve got to have something to hit – the bally-hoo is your answer!


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