Avoid Cheap Fog Machines: Building A Better Stage Show

If Rocks Off could talk to ourselves from six years ago, the advice we would give that young aspiring rock star would be to not bother with any gigs for the first year playing with the band, and instead have everyone save up as much money as possible to fund a truly magnificent stage show and PR campaign once we were really able to do so.

Playing gigs can be a little disheartening some times. You spend $100 here and there on flyers, banners, etc., because you can't get together $1,000 for a more impressive approach. You hope to make a profit at a concert, but too often you're stuck with a poor payout and a bar tab to boot. You realize that between the expense of going out (gas, food, alcohol, parking) you would have done the band better to just show up at practice and put $20 in a jar.

However, what would we do even if we had the ability to reset? We've never had that kind of money to play with, so we don't really know. We decided to seek an answer.

One of the acts we've always been very impressed with as far as their stage show goes is Provision. Breye 7x and company pride themselves on being a completely self-contained act. They maintain their own sound system, their own fog machines, their own lights, the works. As such, no matter what venue books them you can count on the full show.

"Fog is essential," said Breye. "Even if you just have a fog machine, most clubs and venues have lights; and fog is great for creating the atmosphere for a performance. I buy scented fog, as I find that the crowd enjoys it more than regular unscented Fog that offends some people. We used to use musk until it was discontinued. Now we use vanilla.

"Don't ever buy a cheap fog machine," he continues. "Anything from 50 to even 1,200 watts will not last and will be junk in just a few months to a year. Believe me, I know because I learned the hard way. Do not go cheap. Spend the money and buy something 1,500 watts and up. You need a real workhorse for shows."

For $2,000, Breye suggested the following shopping list for a band:

1,500 to 1,800-watt Fog machine: $300

250 Watt Intelligent Scanners (8 Colors and 8 Gobos) Either American DJ, Martin, Novascan, or Chauvet. (x4): $1,000

Chauvet Techno Strobe or Color Palette DMX LED Panel (x4): $500

DMX Cables, Extension Cables, and Power Strips: $200

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner