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Anyone run sound? What's your stories?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Ubersheist, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Ubersheist

    Ubersheist

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    So, I was replying recently to another thread where the poster indicated he had a split signal going to two different amps. He didn't mention if he used that live, if he was running stereo, or anything, but it reminded me of when I ran sound at an on-campus bar when I was in college, and my short stint when I ran sound with a company. The pro company mostly did corporate sales events and conferences, but we also did a few music festivals. When the guys would show up with strange, complex amps, we'd just roll our eyes... The best sounding bands, including headliners, pretty much all ran relatively small amps on stage (less then 40w or so for guitar, less then 300w for bass) and trusted us to make them sound good.

    I specifically remember one of the bands at the bar... They were students, and in a 'melodic metal' band or something like that. Both guitarists showed up with 1/2 stacks, the bassist with a small 100 or 200 watt amp. Typical story - they cranked all the amps, but all you could hear was guitar, guitar, and more guitar. They, of course, were painfully loud and sounded terrible. The crowd wasn't big or 'their' crowd mostly, just some of the students that lived nearby or at the dorms.

    The band was loud enough that the bartender couldn't hear orders and they were driving the crowd away. After trying to get them to turn down several times, and they only turned down a tiny bit, we pulled the plug on 'em. We turned off their channels on the board and brought up some music on a CD player. They were PISSED! Luckily, so was the manager and the bouncer, and both were big scary dudes, so no fights broke out.

    A funny one was at a medical marijuana festival that we got hired to provide sound. A reggae band was playing, and sounding really good, but they were... imbibing heavily. The bass player was sitting on his amp. At one point, he jumped up mid song and started patting down his butt. Apparently, his amp was fan cooled, and he was sitting on the air intake. The amp overheated and caught fire. His butt got hot, and it burned a bit of the back of his shirt, but he was OK. His amp was not, and we had to only run him direct.

    Then, there was a backyard party where I provided sound - it wasn't with the company or anything. A friend hired me to provide sound, and my old band and another played. It was a great gig, except for the food fight. The guys in the band thought it would be funny to hand out Ding Dongs and Twinkies to the crowd while we played. Unfortunately, I didn't have my own PA system, so I rented one for the night. I spent hours the next day trying to get dried Ding Dongs and Twinkies off the speakers, out of the grill, etc. Great memory, but SUCKED at the time.

    What's yours?
  2. jbybj

    jbybj Supporting Member

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    In the late 80's I met this band, heavy metal, that was doing their first gig at the Whiskey A-Go-Go on the sunset strip. They had a new bass player who was very concerned that when he played "up high on the neck" that he wouldn't be heard. Overall he was very worried that I would lose him in the mix.

    Sound check was a hug struggle, getting the stage volume to a manageable level, but we finally found a good mix.

    This band had an introduction tape that played a backwards jet that culminated in an explosion, at which point they would break into song. It's our turn to play, and as the band is setting up on stage, it occurs to me that we had no way of communicating when they were all plugged in and ready to go. The tape is cued up and ready to go, so I tell the house sound guy that I am going to go down to the stage, and when they confirm readiness, I will be back in 15 seconds and start the tape. "Don't start the tape before I come back" were my last words. As I am waiting at the stage, watching them plug in and settle their gear, I hear the jet booming through the house system. I run back to the console just as the explosion hits, right on cue the drummer and one of the two guitarist break into the opening number. The other guitarist was flailing around in the dark, and the bass player plucks his opening note, only to be met with silence from his amp. Nothing, not low level, not the wrong effect, Nothing. In his panic, his first attempt to get sound from his amp was to turn up the volume knob, all the way. Still, nothing. Then without any further adjustment to his amp's volume, he takes the amp out of standby, and the room is filled with the most profound, thunderous, obscured, fart bucket noise, that I have ever witnessed. It was surreal, to see all five musicians pantomiming their instruments, and hear nothing but SPWALAT FOOPHT. It took about 3 songs to get him to turn down to about twice as loud as the soundcheck, where he stayed for the rest of the set. Good times.

    The house idiot said the promoter came up to the board right after I left, freaked out that I wasn't there, started the tape himself.
  3. PopaWoody

    PopaWoody The major rager Supporting Member

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    lol, I run sound in my band, and do the occasional sound gig for other local bands. I am getting reputation for having a great ear and dialing in a very clean mix. Nothing as exciting as the ding dong story though. That would piss me right off, I yell at bands to keep their drinks off my damn powered subs all the time.

    One notable back yard party years ago, drunk guitarist gets cord wrapped around legs, falls flat on his face while pulling down his Marshall combo amp off the top of a 55 gallon drum. Next day I fixed the input jack on the amp as it was ripped out of the circuit board when he fell.
  4. Ubersheist

    Ubersheist

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    THAT was a comedy of errors! It went beyond a disaster into "fiasco" territory!

    I had a minor fiasco. I was in the band and not running sound, although both the guitarist and I occasionally freelanced for a professional company. The guitarist had formal sound engineering training, a handful of certifications, and over 10 years of touring experience as a sound engineer - he really knew his stuff. We were in an art-rock band ala 10,000 Maniacs that got hired to play at an event that was held at a metal club. We should have noted this, or at least put in in our rider that we'd provide our own sound engineer.

    The guy running sound used to be the bouncer, and probably had less experience around a PA then my then non-musician girlfriend. The guitarist popped his head over by the board before we started and saw horrifically bad things going on by someone who really had no idea what he was doing. He was mixing with the gain pots, had the EQs all scooped, etc. It all screamed "This guy is doing exactly the wrong, backwardsf thing if you want to have good sound, and this is going to be terrible." The guitarist was asked not to touch anything and not to worry about things. He came back and said something like "the sound is gonna be really, really interesting."

    The first set was nothing but a repeating cycle of this: ~15 seconds of us starting a song, then 30 seconds to about 2 minutes of crazy loud, high pitched feedback where everyone including the band covered their ears, 5 minutes of relative silence while he fiddled with stuff and we just lightly jammed out stuff in the background, and then thumbs up to go again. Miserable and literally painful.

    After we couldn't take it anymore (I'm guessing it was a good 45 minutes or more), we stopped and basically said "let us take over or we're going home." We got things 1000 times better, he took over again, and we started back up. After about 1 minute into the first song of next set, we lost the monitors for the rest of the night. Also, I'm pretty sure the mix was terrible. At least our ear drums stopped bleeding. As bad as things still sounded, it was still a relief that we didn't have the feedback again.

    We had to give away a ton of shwag to our fans as a big "so sorry for the permanent hearing damage... here's a CD so you don't hate us." I don't think we made a cent, and probably lost money. We were super apologetic to the organizer, and had some words with the club manager. She gave us the worst possible response. She threw her hands as if to say "well, I'm inept, dumb as a crayfish, and have no idea how to make things right." The organizer, a buddy in another band, went out of his way to get us a few more extra gigs to make up for it, so it sort of worked out in the end. Except for the hearing loss...

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