mrcBass and Hey Monkey at Elk Grove Western Festival 5/4/19

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by mrcbass, May 6, 2019.

  1. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Long post - TLDR - Gig 1 of a double header was a SNAFU gig due to lack of communication and a sound crew who didn't know what they were doing. Sorry DBase - no food pics - I think you all know what a slice of ham and a banana looked like (my lunch).

    This is the first gig of a double header for us. We somehow got booked for two shows on the same day. I'm not sure how the lead singer (Gayle) allowed this (she is real sensitive about not burning our her voice) but she did and it became a source of drama for the week leading up tot he show. I won't go into all the gory details, but essentially, Gayle requested that we avoid a handful of specific songs for our evening show and the BL was supposed to send us a set list that omitted these songs. Instead he just regurgitated a previous set list giving Gayle the option to replace songs if she felt the need during the gig. We exchanged "what are you thinking?" group emails through out the week and I even spent the three minutes it took to provide an altered set list with the substitutions already specified with a message to Gayle and BL: "Please bless this so we can have a known set list". Heard nothing back the rest of the week and it really stressed me out. I have my set list all set up in my tablet so I just scroll from song to song. I don't really need the tablet, but it is my routine. It just made for a crappy mental week leading up to the gig for me.


    I guess this is an annual gig for the band, but this is my first time at the Elk Grove Western Festival, but I've been to the park before and know that it is pretty big and can be congested just on a normal weekend day of softball and family barbeques. I had asked the BL about where we should park at rehearsal on the previous Sunday and he just shrugged and acted like he didn't know. I did some research the night before to try to get a lay of the land and learned that there was a parade scheduled that would block the route to couple of the parking areas right about the time that we'd be getting there.

    We were schedule to down beat at 12:30 and since the venue was supplying the PA, we planned to arrive at 11:00 for our load in. Not really knowing what the deal would be with the supplied PA, I brought an extra kitchen sink with me to be ready for anything. Coming from where I live, I can avoid the "front door" access to the park (freeway) and get there quicker using more of a back door way, but sure enough, the parade blocked the route I needed to access any of the parking areas. I used my backup plan and skirted all the way around the area and came from a completely different angle and was able to get to the vendor parking area, much closer to the "Main" Stage than the auxiliary "Western Idol" Stage about a 1/4 mile away that we were slotted for. Would not have known this if I didn't do my homework the night before!

    I pulled in just in time to have someone to talk with. They had volunteers shuttling vendors out to their booths, but they were scheduled to be cut loose at 10:00. I pulled in at 10:30 and after learning that they had no clue regarding where I should have parked or when the parade would get finished and watching them deal with a few fire drills, they shuttled me and my gear over to the appropriate stage. The staff did a great job of managing the situation despite an under-informed environment.

    So I got over to the stage and unloaded my gear. There was a sax player working against a backing tracks, finishing up his show and then Shannon our #2 guitar and sound guy (always dependable!) came up to greet me. By about 11:15, the sax guy was done and no sign of anyone else from our group. Shannon and I started getting our stuff somewhat staged - we're pretty much always relegated to "whatever space is left over" when it come to stage set up. We had a nice big stage so, we just needed to not block access to everyone else's load in. No sign of the BL/drummer.

    Jon (lead guitar/front guy) showed up with his new rig - a custom made rack unit that houses his amp and all of his rack stuff along and miscellaneous pieces parts. Nice concept, but the rig comes in at over 100 pounds and there was no ramp to this stage - it took three of us to safely hoist it up on stage. It saves him about 30 minutes in set up time, but I'm not sure he's gong to happy with the expensive custom cabinet in the long run.

    At 11:30, Gayle and B/L show up. We get Gayle's keyboard on the stage and help the drummer get his 200 lb skin case and rest of his gear over near the stage. Really not sure why he thought it was OK to have to rely on other people to do his personal load in and it's really starting to irritate me - I'd just leave him to it, but that would put all the burden on Shannon.

    Sound guy, BL and Gayle, finalizing set up.
    Shannon going over to check on something.

    By about 12:15, we were ready for our sound check. What a disaster this was. The "Western Idol" stage is really set up for karaoke. The act that followed us was a bunch of Karaoke singers doing some competition and they hadn't had a full band on stage yet this day. The crew had no clue how to use their gear and we had a very hard time just getting things to work at all. When they got to my mic, it had some sort of gate on it - if I got right up and ate the mic, I had very loud volume. If I backed off even a little, nothing. Can't do back up vocals like that. As they were trouble shooting, the problem migrated to another mic that had previously been working. We spent a good hour to get to a point to where we had some sort of presentable sound out front. The monitors were not working well at all, but we decided to soldier through it.

    After fighting with my IEM's we finally tried some stuff at rehearsal and discovered that has something to do with our snake. Once we bypassed the snake, I didn't have issues with my right channel (on a mono feed) cutting out. My latest sound experiment for my self is to piggy back the band signal off of on of the PA mains in one channel and a signal form my bass chain in the other. We don't usually have a dedicated sound guy, and every live recording of us I hear, I can't hear my BU vocals in the mix. So the only way I can gauge my vocal mix is to hear FOH and adjust from there. It worked well in rehearsal and at home (as best as I can reproduce the FOH at home), but not so much here. What else is new.

    And of course, the BL, who made a point to tell us to bring our own gear in case the supplied stuff didn't work, failed to bring his mic and stand. I had an extra mic, but not an extra stand. Luckily his vocals are more annoying than helpful most of the time. At least he managed to keep pretty good time for this gig. A note on this: BL is a terrible drummer and he knows it. He is in a band because he owns a PA and can book gigs - he's never cut it otherwise. Has always had a very hard time starting us off a correct tempos or staying on a tempo. He found some sort of app for his phone that ses the signal form the kit (even an electric kit) and displays the tempo. Ever since he started using this, his tempo has been remarkably better - always ate least in the neighborhood and keeps it pretty consistent when we don't push him. His issues have been largely reduced to issues with syncopation and remembering his parts (like how to end a song).

    So we get started almost an hour late. Seeing that this is a "Western Festival" we loaded all of our country stuff in to this list. Here's our set list for this gig: 0504190729.jpg

    We decided to just keep playing until they cut us off (no break). I would have expected for them to give us a little bit of extra time, but they had their Karaoke competition that had to go on, so without warning, they just gave us the "you're done" signal - right at 2:30 when we were scheduled to be done anyway. We made it as far as "Better Dig Two". In the long run, it spared Gayle about 45 minutes of singing, so we were a little less concerned about the second show.

    A few shots from the stage. This would have been the intro to "You Shook Me All Night Long". Jon and Gayle are consummate entertainers and the nice big stage really let Jon let his hair down. He loves to wander the stage and in this case, get into his AC/DC guitar hop on this song. 0504191414.jpg


    Slowing things down a little, Gayle and Jon perform "Landslide".

    Still Landslide, with bit more of the crowd. I kind of took advantage of Jon's new rig to put my extra batteries and ear plugs. Flat surfaces are not safe around me! I suppose the tape could have got stowed - it's just a remnant of the sound check fiasco (a lot of cables were swapped out trying troubleshoot our issues).
    What little crowd that was here were fairly appreciative - but they were almost all there waiting for the Karaoke contest. Very little dancing - an early afternoon, alcohol free environment will do that. Aside from the sound issues, we played well. We had a couple of humorous stage moments worth noting.

    Shannon, who we're always trying to coax up to the front of the stage (when appropriate), did so for his solo work on "Last Dance With Mary Jane". But he got a little carried away and unintentionally went "wireless" near the end of the song - ran out of cable and it just pulled right out of his amp. We all had a good laugh - gotta keep it light.

    Then, Jon got himself uncharacteristically tangled up in his solo intro to "Old Time Rock and Roll" and I made some comment over the mic asking him when he was finally going to learn this song - all in good fun!

    We were booted off on time and they started doing some Karaoke stuff to fill air - a lot of the scheduled competitors were not there yet, because of traffic issues - we could have easily finished our show.

    Waiting for the BL to pack his kit always leaves time to kill, I wish I could have parked closer and go kill some time wandering around the venue, but that just didn't work. I didn't want to shuttle (despite the sound issues, the crew took very good care of us!)all the way across the park and try to find my way back, so I sat around for thirty minutes waiting for him to get done and then - find his keys. He really gets on my nerve and is making it very hard for me to stick around - I'm nothing special, but this project is becoming more stressful than fun when we're not on stage. I was close to just telling him off this week and I'm not sure I'm going to stick around after our last booked gig in June. I have feelers out for auditions for several opportunities. Not getting much response, but hopefully I can find another gigging band so I can get away from this clown.

    My report for our evening gig will follow later today - I actually have to do some work now!
    MrLenny1, Bassed in NZ, MCF and 5 others like this.
  2. sound problems are always no fun. Glad you got to play and have some fun! Great pics
    mrcbass likes this.
  3. Kitsapbass

    Kitsapbass What key is this?

    May 26, 2005
    Bremerton, WA
    Definitely looking forward to reading about gig #2!!!!
    mrcbass likes this.
  4. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    Posted about an hour ago...
  5. Hi @mrcbass,

    All in all, it sounds like you survived the gig. I can see where most of the fun just got sucked right off the stage. The group has to work well on and off the stage in order to enjoy the whole band experience, because it's a lot more than just playing songs. I do thank you for taking us along. I haven't read your evening gig report yet. I hope it went better. Take care.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

    Kitsapbass likes this.
  6. If you bail, take the girl singer with you unless she's married to the BL.
    MCF likes this.
  7. mrcbass


    Jan 14, 2016
    Sacramento, CA
    She might just bail before me...
  8. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    That's showbiz. I hear ya man. It's always a challenge.
    Good luck.