Monday, August 20, 2012

Dear SNR: Last Minute Re-patch

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. August can be a particularly brutal month for bookings. That said, everything went well and some terrific material came out of it for more posts and podcasts. Speaking of which, before I get to posting this week's podcast a little late (sorry) I got this message on the Facebook page from a long time reader and listener. Take a read and then get busy in the comments section.
Hey, I have been enjoying SNR since about the third post. I had a really rough gig last night, and I wanted to share my experience to see if anyone else has had this happen to them. I'll try to make it brief.

I work with a christian artist, we have a non-profit org that is ministry based. We set up in this church last night for a concert that started at 7pm. Well, as it happens sometimes, we didn't have a chance to sound check before the show. Not preferred, but not a huge deal. The church was using their system for the first two acts, and we were to use ours when we went on stage.

Their system consisted of two Bose 802 sharing about 250W. Our system was four dual 18" cabs with four 15" three way cabs.

When we are supposed to go on stage, there was a problem with the system. For some reason, I was getting majorly overdriven sound from the monitor rack (A PreSonus StudioLive and a bunch of in-ear transmitters). So, instead of giving me a second to troubleshoot, the artist grabs the stage snake, rips it out of my FOH snake, and proceeds to hook it into the church's stage box.

I really wanted to just leave, but I did the best I could to just go along with it, even though I am sure it would have only taken me 5 minutes to figure it out. So, there I am suffering through the entire concert with our beautiful rig standing right in front of me, and we are using a set of massively underpowered 802s. Not only that, there was a nasty compressor somewhere that was squashing everything, and I could't find it.

Not a good night. I just needed to share that with some fellow brethren of the knob and fader as you so eloquently say.


I've been thinking about this myself for a few days so let me weigh in with my thoughts.
I'm not one to provoke conflict but I have to say that if an artist ever did that to my rig I probably would have stopped everything and gotten in his eye about it. It seems like the rig may belong to the artist though so there may not have been much to say about it. In that case, it might not have come to, "Let's take this outside" but I probably would have been entertaining murderous thoughts for the duration of the performance.
What's done is done though and the only possibility now is to sit down with the artist and talk about weighing the cost of delaying the show for five minutes against having the entire thing sound like crap. I'm afraid you're up against the classic battle where someone hires you to take care of the sound and then won't let you.  

There are many classes of sound guy out there, probably enough to do a post about. The problem here though may be that a "will bend over backwards to serve the performance" sound guy is getting misunderstood as being a "pushover sound guy". It's a tricky balance but the need to assert yourself is pretty important.

And now I hand it off to the Brethren of the Knob and Fader. Don't disappoint Brother Mitch. Let the wisdom flow!


  1. Doubtful if I could have been as gracious as you! Still a place in this world for defined roles and responsibilities so a civil conversation should prevent recurrence.
    Rory-His Voice Sound

  2. Sounds all too familiar......maybe it's the musical genre.
    I was to supply a full 32 channel system for a popular christian artist about 150 miles from my home base. One of the local christian radio stations that I listen to quite often contacted me and I was more than happy to give them a hand being they do quite a few concerts in the area.

    The engineer was nice enough advancing the show. When we got to the load in, I asked one of the folks from the tour which person he was and they pointed him out. I cordially went up to him and introduced myself and got a "that's nice" and he went back to whatever he was doing. There were two other techs that were doing most of the pinning and such; he was just running around looking for whatever and just being surly. I later asked one of the techs if he was always like that and they said he was and was one of the most conceited people they had ever worked with.
    An absolute jackass if I ever dealt with one. Notwithstanding, he never bothered contacting me that he got his "tour package" and didn't need half the gear I hauled down in the rental truck. No apology, no forced conversation, not even a goodbye at the end of the night.

    I was really surprised that a christian artist would even want this puke on his tour.

  3. A proper sound check would have prevented your problem and gave your audience a good show. So I guess missing it WAS a Huge deal. Was missing the sound check an unavoidable logistics problem, or sloppy planning and lack of concern?
    Having an artist take technical "steps" of any kind during the performance is unacceptable on my stage. Sounds to me like the sound man needs to step up his game, and in doing so gain the respect of his artist.

  4. I used to work in Christian radio years ago. Christian artists and their touring staff can be some of the most demanding and un-christian people in the world. That part of the music industry is one that I choose to steer clear of. I've met more honest and trustworthy people in bars then I ever have in a church setting. Its sad! Mt 2 cents worth on this incident is this.... Oh you don't want to use my system after I set it all up?? Well then you can just wait to perform while I tear it all down and wheel it out while the people wait... that won't work for you? Then stop being a dick and wait 5 minutes for a little troubleshooting and we'll get this show going. Church or not, business is business...


You're the Scotty to our Kirk