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Performance Volume

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Kronde, Jan 18, 2006.


  1. Kronde

    Kronde

    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    So I played a show this past Saturday at a local club. Nice room, very "warm" sound. The 75 or so folks in attendance pretty much filled up the main room, which has a tall ceiling and is deeper than it is wide. We do not have a sound man and basically mix from the stage. Drums are not mic'd nor is my bass amp. We usually mic the other instrument amps so that we can put them in the monitors but not the mains. We always consult members of the 'entourage' about the mix and levels. So, we play our first set at a very restrained volume. Minimal crowd interaction, quiet clapping but that was about all. The second set we take the volume up a notch and whammo! the place is rocking. In-between several of the songs in the set we inquire as to the volume, because it feels great on-stage. Nothing but positive response...The next day I ask a friend about it and she said we were "way too loud" and that it took away from the performance. I always strive to keep the volume in check so I was a bit concerned. This raises several questions in my mind...Whom do you adjust the volume to? The folks getting into it? The folks that want to hang out and talk? Consult with the bartender? Should people be able to sit 10 feet away from a full band (drummer and percussionist) and be able to carry on a conversation? I asked my friend why she didn't just move to the back of the room (she was in the suicide booth right in front of the stage)...and she said it was too loud there too. She did say we had a good mix and that she could hear everyone on stage and the vocals were clear. Some guidance on the approach you all take to setting overall band levels would be much appreciated!
     
  2. One thing's for sure...

    It can be way too loud with an indistinguishable wall of deafening noise, or it can be way too quiet with unmiced drums overpowering the mix.

    Everything in-between is subjective and with 75 people, you will get a variance from too loud to not loud enough. You have to take the approach that as long as most people were digging it, you had it right. If you have one person give you the 'thumbs up/thumbs down' bit, make sure it's the same person every gig!
     
  3. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    I used to mix lots of club shows. Get a sound man, number one. Doesn't have to be for all night, just someone you can trust to know if things are working or not.

    Since you're gonna ignore that advice, start with the bar. The bartender has to be able to hear drink orders, that's an absolute. In most clubs, patrons at the bar want to be able to talk too. Somebody should get a wireless, and go see what's up while the band is playing to a full crowd. A sound check flat out will not tell you this. Crowds get louder the more they drink too, right?

    Now figure out the comfort zone where it sounds best, and the volume is "just right". That'll be the middle or back of the dance floor if you have a good system and it's well set up. It may be right in front of the stage though in some cases, out of the front of house wash. Don't count on people figuring this out on their own. Whatever's left is the place where you can hurt people, get in trouble with the law, and generally be a rocker.:cool: Those people will talk loud (or yell) if they want to converse, don't worry about that.

    Personally, I like my bands to be a little too soft unless you're right on the dance floor. Gives people a reason to go there. In most clubs it's quite difficult to get a great mix everywhere in the room, so consider targeting that for your purposes.

    This is all for clubs. I play restaurant gigs where I can hear the patrons' conversations clearly above the band, which is pretty distracting at times. It's not uncommon to carry on a brief conversation while I'm in the middle of playing a tune too.
     
  4. Kronde

    Kronde

    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    I personally like the idea of a sound man. As we have an essentially complete set-up we would just need someone to help with set-up, tear-down and adjusting the mix. We do not typically mic the drums...is a soundman a little bit of overkill in these situations? The larger venues we play will usually have a house system and a sound man...
     
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    Overkill? Depends a lot on your priorities I guess. I mixed for years in a club where we hardly ever put drums in the mix, save maybe a little kick. An awful lot of my gigs were just mixing vocals, and the club owner considered that well worth my fee.
     
  6. Kronde

    Kronde

    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    I think I will start lobbying for a sound man at our gig tomorrow night. We have a couple of folks that record entire shows from time to time...I think they might be good candidates for the job... If you don't mind me asking, did you get paid a percentage for mixing the sound or was it a flat fee? It seems like the individual should be cut at the same rate as a band member....