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There and Back Again - My Weekend with the Gruv Gear Stadium Bag

I've been referring to it as my "perfect storm" of gigs; eight in three days. It was probably the only time when I had a legitimate argument for having three amps. Getting through this was going to require a lot of careful planning; I had different gear to use in three different settings, as outlined below:

1 - Gig at High School Cabaret (Warwick Streamer LX, PJB Briefcase amp, dress black attire)
2 - Gig at Late Night Cabaret (Warwick Streamer LX, PJB Suitcase amp, effects, dress casual attire)

3 - Rehearsal at Civic Theatre (NS Design CR-5M, PJB Bass Cub amp, no dress code)
4 - Gig at High School Cabaret (Warwick Streamer LX, PJB Briefcase amp, dress black attire)
5 - Gig at Late Night Cabaret (Warwick Streamer LX, PJB Suitcase amp, effects, dress casual attire)

6 - Rehearsal / Service at local Church (Warwick Streamer LX, direct box, dress attire)
7 - Gig at High School Cabaret (Warwick Streamer LX, PJB Briefcase amp, dress black attire)
8 - Rehearsal at Civic Theatre (NS Design CR-5M, PJB Bass Cub amp, no dress code)

As you can see, shoving everything I could into the pockets of a gig bag would not work in this situation. Plus, I'm just not that guy. The bag ends up getting heavy (and with a 6 string bass, it's already heavy enough), and in my situation, won't work from gig to gig. So, I carry an "accessory" bag with all of the miscellaneous items, allowing me to take that bag to whatever gig or rehearsal and still have everything I need. For a long time, my bag of choice was the Access PFX-1, which is a great bag for the gigging musician. I don't know of any other bag that has as much functionality and customization options as it does. However, I quickly realized two things that the PFX-1 didn't have for my needs; some sizable pockets (the bulk of the pockets are quite small, despite their convenience), and space to hold a theatre score. While you could easily walk into a theatre with the score in your hand (and I've done it), the days of inclement weather (I do live in Michigan, after all) have proven a need for a better solution.

Earlier that week I had received my Gruv Gear Stadium Bag, and this weekend seemed the perfect way to see how it compared to the PFX. The Stadium Bag has three good sized areas (all of which have velcro floors which can be taken out to make even bigger spaces), a nice front compartment for a laptop (or theatre score!), a handful of smaller zippered or velcro pockets, and two decent exterior ones. It also has a row in the top compartment for SNAPS compatible items (which I'm told are forthcoming) for more versatility. It sports two "locker style" side openings to get to the bottom section of the bag. My initial complaint is that I'd like to see another row or two of velcro in the main compartment walls to move a shelf up or down just a little, and still retain two spaces. As it sits, if you want a bigger space, you have to take out a velcro shelf and thus lose one area.

It also comes with a rain/weather cover that you can easily put over the entire bag when dealing with that inclement weather I previously mentioned. It's attached to the bottom of the bag, and easily stows away when not in use. While I had no use for it during the "perfect storm" of gigs, I can say that during the rainy/snowy month of December that it came in handy. You do lose the use of the top carrying handle when deploying the cover, but the other three carrying options are still usable, so it's really no big deal.

While it doesn't have the number of pockets as the PFX-1, I quickly found that I preferred the fewer, bigger areas that the Stadium Bag provides. I can throw a couple of bigger items into the different compartments and still have some room, instead of cramming pockets shut and hoping the zipper will close. For someone that carries three instrument cables and a power strip regularly, putting them in one compartment instead of three was nice.

In the field, the bigger compartments proved very useful. On Saturday, I was able to keep two changes of clothes in the bottom of the bag, cords and effects in the middle, and my headphones, power strip and adaptors in the top. The front pocket also held a binder of music, a theatre score and my iPad in addition to some smaller incidental items. Even the interior color of this bag proved useful. While it is Gruv Gear's signature color of orange, it also serves a double purpose by making it easy to open up the bag and quickly see what is in the compartment. Black interiors are great, but I find myself rifling through everything to find that one cord.

stadium bag on the v-cart soloRacing between my car and the venues, I was able to utilize a couple different carrying options that the Stadium Bag offers; backpack straps and the V-Cart option. It also has a carry handle and a shoulder strap, which I didn't use but assume they function as expected. The nice thing about the V-Cart option is that it can attach to the underside of the cart handle, leaving the front area clear to carry more gear. With that, I was able to put the PJB Suitcase, Warwick bass and Stadium Bag on my V-Cart and walk in to the Late Night Cabaret easily without fighting with a door. This is a big plus because with a bag of this size, it gets heavy when you fill it?especially on gig 5 when load-in is at 11pm.

So all in all, the Stadium Bag by Gruv Gear proved to be a very worthwhile investment in helping keep me organized as I navigated the "perfect storm" of gigs that weekend. It has quickly become my "go to" bag; it's currently sitting in the corner of my room, full of gear for my church gig and current theatre run. This bag was made with some real world applications in mind and it shows in its ease of use and functionality.

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