"We simply bring our own stage with us"
How a North German band turned an old food truck into a fully equipped mobile stage
Papa Rockt from Seevetal near Hamburg have been making music for almost 20 years and can look back on countless gigs. At private parties in particular, they noticed that the hosts are often unaware of what goes into a performance to "play a little awesome rock 'n' roll". Especially when it's supposed to be loud and outdoors – because the performance area, sound and lighting play a major role in ensuring that the audience is engaged. One evening, inspired by a few beers, they suddenly had the idea of converting a food truck into a professional mobile stage. The difference between before and after is immense. It opens up a host of new possibilities for the band, because gigs are now a case of simple plug-and-play. We spoke to singer and guitarist Grobi about their "Muggebude" DIY stage. Read on to find out now exactly what it's all about.
The step-by-step journey to their own stage:
"Small professional stages are expensive
and too big for a garden.
They also need to be kept manageable."
The idea: Wherever there's a food truck, you'll always find people
In 2016, Papa Rockt played outdoors at a birthday party. Suddenly it started raining. The audience retreated under the roof of a beer truck that the host had parked next to the stage. Then it flashed through the band's mind: "How cool would it be if we were to say for events like this that we're going to bring our own stage? We'd put it in place and fold open a couple of walls – just like a beer truck. Then we'd have our own roof, a system and a little lighting. Ideally, everything would be pre-wired for plug-and-play. That would be awesome!"
A short time later, they found this old food truck by chance through an ad and decided to buy it:
The transformation: From a rusty piece of metal to a professional stage
Although they now had the food truck, Papa Rockt had been putting off the conversion for a few years. Obviously there was no instruction manual for turning it into a mobile stage. Then the pandemic played into their hands. Because there were no performances, they finally had time to tackle the project.
Using 3D software on a tablet, Grobi planned to scale how the whole thing might eventually look:
"It was a mammoth task. The truck alone weighs 1.5 tons empty. It was built in 1984 and was state of the art at that time. It's basically a steel frame covered with an aluminium skin."
Start by gutting everything
The band ripped out the old floor and put in a new one. The boys removed the rust from the truck and ensured that the brakes worked so that they wouldn't fail the MOT a second time. The MOT only concerns the chassis, not the interior fittings.
Papa Rockt built a drum platform in the middle above the wheel arches, repaired the roof and walls and bought trusses. The trusses would later support and frame the stage. They also provided space for lighting and monitoring.
The future stage was then given a new coat of paint. A real collaborative project in which everyone lent a hand.
The features: Sound, lighting, backstage – it's all there!
How do you create a mobile stage with a big enough performance area and space for equipment? This was the challenge facing Papa Rockt, because the food truck itself is only 2.4 m wide.
"For monitoring the 2.4 m are reduced by another 1 m, if you have the monitors directly in front of your feet," says singer Grobi.
The solution: By folding out the side wall, the stage is extended by 1.2 m to the front. For monitoring, the band mounts the FLAT-M100 stage monitor speakers on the truss (the size of a football goal).
The advantage: The monitors are much closer to the head, so each band member receives individual sound.
There are no problems with feedback because the main sound is in front of the stage, musicians and microphones.
They also use 18'' bass speakers and 4 satellites as a PA system. All are the same models and are compatible with each other.
If technician friends are present, they bring their digital mixers to the sound check and help Papa Rockt with the settings. The settings can be saved on digital mixers in case they hand over the stage to a band they are friends with. This allows them to return to their default settings at any time.
However, they also always have an analogue console on board, in case they need to operate a fader quickly. For this purpose, they run a sound check playlist, e.g. from Spotify, via their PA during the sound check in order to set up the system themselves.
A 5 m long cable duct, which runs across the entire width of the stage, ensures even more freedom of movement.
In order that Papa Rockt are optimally illuminated, they attach their lighting to the truss above the front edge of the stage.
"In the evening, when the stage lights are on, you don't even notice the truck anymore. Instead, you only see a professional stage that looks impressive."
Papa Rockt also bring their own backstage area with them. For this purpose, they simply fold up the rear side wall and then hang it with molton curtains.
What Papa Rockt particularly appreciate about their "Muggebude":
There are no more nasty surprises when organisers of private parties (surprisingly) cannot provide something.
They no longer have to pay large sums of money to rental companies for equipment for a performance, especially if they need lighting as well as sound.
The entire stage set-up and dismantling is quick and only takes about an hour each.
They have found a good monitoring solution.
Possible applications: From lakeside to football pitch – the main thing is to have fun
Papa Rockt have already played on their stage themselves. But they have also handed it over to other bands they are friends with for their performances (on the same day).
The "Muggebude" has already been on the edge of a football pitch, at a lake and on the sports field at a beach handball tournament. It can provide canned background music or serve as the stage for sports commentators.
A projector for karaoke evenings can also be attached to the top of the truss.
"We want to keep it private and not just tour around."
There are countless applications for a mobile stage. Papa Rockt are satisfied and proud that their project is going so well. Their story shows that it's worth being brave and daring to try something new.
We especially thank Grobi from Papa Rockt for the pictures
- 16 January, 2020
- 11 May, 2019
- 15 September, 2020