I had the most peculiar experience a while back and I’ve been waiting before I posted it so folks wouldn’t be able to discern where the gig was.
I showed up for the soundcheck two hours before the gig. They were ready for me, though they had no food for me and there was no place walking distance to grab a bite, so I ended up having no food til late at night; the worst time to eat something.
Folks when you have a concert, help us out. Have a little something there for us to eat or tell us that you can provide nothing way in advance. That way we will factor in finding a restaurant in the area and getting our own food before we show up. With GPS, it’s not as hard as it once was if you don’t know the area.
Then while the sound man began to put the mic’s in place he told me he had no monitors as nobody really needs them in this room.
We ALWAYS need monitors. It allows us to professionally work the microphone; and to use our effect to the fullest if we travel with effects, and it also allows us to play with the finesse you have come to love.
When we can’t hear the instrument, we play harder and that always means less finesse, less musicality and more brute force. You know, the way that Elvis Costello always plays the guitar…as tho he hates it. Real musicians don’t do that. We want to hear our instrument as best we can. That always makes for a better show.
If you don’t own monitors for a show, then borrow some or rent some, but get them. They really make for a better experience for the performer and consequently the entire audience.
Secondly, the producer kept talking to me while I was attempting to get levels on the vocal mic, the guitar mic and the direct line thru which my effects were amplified in the room. And because I had no monitors, I had to try harder to hear what was really happening balance wise.
Then he began to give the sound man instructions that were in direct conflict with what I was asking for from the sound man.
I finally had to stop him and explain that his instructions were simply forcing us to adjust everything over and over again and that I like to get the levels that work for me, the balance between the vocal mic, the guitar mic and the direct line.
To further add to the confusion, the promoter began to tell me how he taught himself to whistle to get his kids attention. He actually showed me all the permutations he went throught to arrive at the shrill, piercing noise that he made about six times.
All while I’m trying to do my sound check.
Folks, we are a friendly sort, but during a soundcheck, we need to be left alone to do what we do. This will make for a concert that all agree sounded great. Please don’t try to make conversation with us while we are doing a sound check.
This is akin to standing behind a painter and throwing paint on his canvas, while he’s trying to paint a picture.
Then, in my dressing room were people looking at paintings on the wall and making notes and coming in and out. Our dressing room is where we get NAKED, change our clothes, focus our talent and general put ourselves in that space that allows us to do a good show.
I don’t care who’s coming, or asking to come back stage. I don’t care if Jesus finally made good on his promise and came back. He’s got to wait til after the show. I don’t want anyone in there before a show, and no one I know feels any differently. It’s the alone time we need to get where we have to get.
Please give us that space.
The coup de gras was the opening act simply not showing up. For myself, I don’t like opening acts unless I hear them first and approve them. I like them to be great. If they are not professionals who know what to do up there, I want them to learn on their own audience how to do it. I don’t want them turning my audience into an angry mob of disinterested, disaffected people waiting to bolt for the door at the first chance.
I told them that having no opening act was no problem as I preferred to have none. They said, “oh no, we always have an opening act, so I’ll just do it myself” and the promoter who was utterly unprepared went up on stage and played for thirty minutes. Three times during his set he forgot the words to a song so completely that he stopped and started another song, wherein he also forgot the lyrics. Three songs in a row.
It does no one a favor for you to go up there and make an audience wish they were at the dentist instead of there in the theatre. If you are unprepared, the be professional enough to admit it and not inflict a shoddy beginning on a paying audience. That kind of stuff is for open mics.
Remember why you are there and what you are trying to accomplish by promoting a show. If you hire a pro, then do all you can to allow that person to be the pro they are and don’t inflict amateurs on the audience you are trying to build.
Your series will suffer if you do and will blossom if you think about it and present the best entertainment professionals you can.
Trust me, …just this once.