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Rough night last night...

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by Justin V, Apr 10, 2006.

  1. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    My band just played a ROUGH show at a local bar last night. We were opening for a fairly established local band whom we played with a few months ago. They provided the P.A. and everything. Sunday night, so the bar was pretty empty except for some friends of our new guitarist and friends of the other band. Tends to be what happens at this bar (too far away from the college to get a big draw). We figured at worst it would be a "public practice".

    Admittedly I was pretty exhausted from the six hour drive I'd done from the Bay Area that day, but I had enough caffiene in me to play. The main problem was from the P.A. The band that owned the thing is a semi-Christian acoustic trio (acoustic guitar/bass/drums). So they usually don't have to worry about being too loud. WE, on the other hand, have a loud drummer and two guitarists who mic tube combos into the P.A. along with the vocals (my bass amp is usually loud enough not to need P.A. support). The all-in-one P.A. they had apparently wasn't ready for this because after the second song in our set, I ran out onto the floor to check the sound and couldn't hear anything but "loudness". The guys in the other band hadn't told us that there was no seperate channel for the monitors from the mains. So we kept requesting things in the monitor without realizing they were going into the mains. Helped explain the feedback issues. Not surprisingly, a decent percentage of the small audiece ran to the other half of the bar to hide from the noise. Then, about half way through our set, the whole P.A. just died. Apparently we over-heated the power section. Took about four minutes of waiting (and embarassment) to get the thing running again. And once we did we could barely hear eachother on-stage. This led to some serious "train-wreck" moments like my singer going off-rhythm on a section that's just him playing muted eigth notes and singing with a couple of drum hits to keep things moving. That was interesting.

    This was the first time I've ever felt like a complete noob after a show. And this is one week removed from a GREAT set at a Battle of the Bands.

    Anybody else have nightmare stories like this? Maybe a couple suggestions on how to forget them?

    P.S. Sorry about the long post. Needed to vent.
  2. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    The fuse on my tube amp kept blowing one show. I got it figured out after a while (loose power tube). This was while a few of the guys from Fear Factory were sitting in at the venue. They left before we could get rolling.
  3. RyansDad


    Jan 31, 2006
    Tolland, CT

    Ive had that happen a few times. Unfortunately, those power amp setups don't work so great for louder bands. Also, I find that they don't have enough inputs (especially if you want to mike the drums correctly).

    My advice: pool your earnings from shows and buy a for-real PA set up. In the meantime, I would hire a sound guy. In our area, at least, there's plenty of sound guys who will show up and bring all the gear you need for about $200 (or less).
  4. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Maybe not forget them, so much as prevent them in the first place...

    Basically, don't assume anything. Don't assume that the other band has gear that will work for you. Don't assume that the booking guy at the club is on top of things. Don't assume that the sound guy knows what he's doing. Etc...

    Plan everything out well in advance, Get as much in writing as you can get. Take detailed notes on commitments that have been made to you, including names, titles, contact information, dates & times. Follow up as often as necessary. Triple-check everything. And then, when you've done everything you can possibly do, expect things to occasionally foul up anyway. But hopefully not as often or as disasterously as they're bound to foul up otherwise...

  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Congratulations! Your first horror show gig is in the past. Expect a couple more cuz IMO it's part of the game. As much as they suck though, I believe they have their value. Here's a few thoughts I have regarding this stuff:

    • Gigs like that are unavoidable. No matter how prepared you are, there are times where things out of our control (or maybe even in our control) seem to have their way with us.
    • They're good because they humble us.
    • They're good because they teach us how to be better prepared the next time.
    • They're good because they can motivate us to work harder.
    • We can be grateful when that kind of thing happens on a sunday night in an empty place as opposed to a saturday in a packed place.
    • They can help us to practice the finer points of musicianship, like keeping our heads held high and acting as if all is great, when we know it was a horror show.
    I've also noticed that this kind of stuff seems to happen most right after a really great show. Either it's the universe's way of telling us not to get carried away with ourselves, or our own fault - FOR getting carried away with ourselves. Thinking we're the sheeeet. :)
  6. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Honestly, if the trio's PA is loud enough for them, it was loud enough for you. A couple of acoustic guitars and vocals is much harder to be heard above crowd noise than a full band.

    Did the guitars have to go through the PA? Was there a possibility they would have been loud enough without them muddying up an already tight situation. Maybe the drummer could play a little quiter, or use hot-rods or brushes to keep the stage volume manageable. In my experience it's easier to make the loudest thing quieter than it is to make the quietest thing as loud as the loudest without something sounding like crap or melting down.

    Rack this one up to experience. One piece of advice I got from a soundman years ago was "You always bring your sound with you!" If the amp is the main source of "your tone", bring it and don't expect something else to do it justice. If the tone is in your fingers, then you're set. Whatever it is that defines your tone, bring it.

    If anything, you learn how to work on your dynamics and equipment so that you can be prepared for any situation as it arises.
  7. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    Thanks for the responses guys. Glad to know we're not the only band with this issue.

    After the set we decided that if we're playing a tiny place like that again (which in this town is higly likely), we'll either use the electronic kit or do an acoustic set with the Ed (drummer) using brushes. He's also getting some lighter sticks.

    I'm taking what I can from the show and blaming it on my bitterness over what happened at the Battle of the Bands the week before (long story that I'm sure happens all the time).
  8. RicPlaya


    Apr 22, 2003
    The Mitten
    Good advice. You need to adapt to the situation...not try to tweak knobs to fix the problem. I would have unplugged all the cabs from the PA..told the drummer to play quiet and just ran vocals in the PA.

    There have been many many gigs where we had PA issues. Mainly ours..because our band leader was a tool and didn't want to listen to anybody. Needless to say I am no longer in that band because he would tweak knobs insted of keeping it simple.
  9. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Whoa. What Jong said. Only I wouldn't have been as nice. If I were in that second band, and the owner of that PA, and you started cranking my PA up way beyond its capabilities, I would have shut you down right there. Learn to respect people whose equipment you are using.
  10. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    In our defence, their bass player was the guy running back and forth at the stage to do the P.A. We didn't touch the thing. Though you're definately right. I'm gonna give Ed some heat this weekend at practice about it for sure.

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