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Unprofessional behavior from so-called professional sound people

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Dave Grossman, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. At the three gigs I've played in the past 2 years, we have had nothing but bad experiences with the people in charge of our monitors and mix. From what I can tell it is not due to incompetence but apathy. The mixers genuinely seemed to not care how we sounded. The feeling I get is that since we're just a small time band, we don't warrant the attention that a professional band would get. This was more than evident at a recent gig where the other bands had 2 hours to sound check and we got 3 minutes (including guitar amp setup time!) even though we were playing in between acts.

    At two gigs at a local pub, we never got a sound check despite the fact that we were told that were would be getting one at a specific time. We were ready to do our sound check at that time but the mixers not only didn't allow us to sound check but one of them cut out for 30 minutes to go do crank or cocaine (he practically admitted as much when he told us the joke "How do you know when your sound man is wired?") and showed up 10 minutes before show time only to make us wait, on stage, for an additional 25 minutes before we could play thus cutting our set down and making us look stupid for standing on stage waiting to play for 25 minutes (in addition to the previous 30 minutes we were up there waiting to sound check).

    They also neglected to set our monitors up properly so our first songs were generally riddled with mistakes while we attempted to set our levels so that we could even hear ourselves properly. We then wasted time in between songs trying to get the mixer to set our monitors right.

    One time, the mixer decided to cut all the high end from my bass thus rendering many of the upper notes unhearable. Considering that those notes our part of our songs, the mixer had effectively ruined the effect of our music.

    At the most recent gig, the monitor guy didn't even try to help us. When we got on stage, I had to tell the monitor mixer to give some bass to the drummer because he wasn't getting anything. Turns out, he wasn't getting any guitar either (duh, I should have told him to do that too). That turned out to be the worst of the three shows we did and we screwed up the music pretty badly because neither myself nor the drummer could hear the guitarist worth a damn. The main premise behind our music is the interplay between the three instruments but if we can't hear each other, it's not going to be right. I can't believe how badly we played that night. That was the biggest and most important of the three. We played for about 200-300 people that night. It was pretty humiliating, actually. Though we did get a lot of compliments, I don't think we deserved them.

    I guess the question is this; why do professional sound people deliberately choose to do a poor job with some bands and not others? Doesn't professionality mean that they should be doing their job?

    I'm really sick of this. The next gig we do, we're bringing in our own PA and mixer. I am not going to do another show with sound people who don't care about how we sound.

    Anybody else have any bad experiences with so-called "pros"?

    - Dave
  2. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Oooooh, yeah. Old band was told, one night, that our headliner wanted us to use his equipment and sound man, to eliminate tearing down/setting up time. We asked Sound Man if that would be ok, and were told it was no problem.

    The guy could not be bothered to tear himself away from the grill to give us a sound check. He got irritated with us when we asked for more of whatever in the monitors, or to make any sort of adjustment. He got especially upset with the rhythm guitarist. Noted, she is very "tweaky" (tweaks her sound to death), but her problems would have been solved in a proper sound check. He never even listened to the songs, preferring to get high at the back of the parking lot, and didn't care what we sounded like. We were politce and nice, and couldn't understand what his problem was.

    He approached me on break with an angry face, because I was still putting my bass on my stand and stuff..."Listen up! I am not your sound man! I am So-And-So's soundman! You have permission to run through my board, but I never said I would *do* anything for you! I am not getting paid to run sound for a bunch of old women! I am here for the real band, the headliner. All you are going to get is to run through my board, and don't you DARE touch any of the settings! I am set up for Real Band, and am not making any adjustments for your sound!"

    I told him to f-off, that we never asked to use him, but that we were *told* that we would use his PA, and that he would run sound for us. It wasn't our idea, and if he had a problem with it, he should have said so when asked, and I'd have run home for my own PA. And that I'd damn-sure rather run my own sound, than to have him make me and mine sound like garbage.

    We played the rest of our set, and then the next band came up. Sound Jerk wanted us to pay him, and I told him I would die before someone who did no work for us (we had help set up) got a dime of my money, and he could suck it up.

    Dude has hated me ever since. Wonder why?

  3. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Back when we first started, the "professional" sound guys used to crap on us regularly. Why? Well, 5 black guys, must be a hip hop or R&B band, right? Not a farfetched assumption, but after we tell them that we were a rock band, they would become very apathetic towards us and our mix. It was like, "How dare you screw up my assumptions!" After about a year, the soundmen we encountered on tours got better and better, but it was rough in the beginning. This is going to sound bad, but the black sound guys were the worse. I guess we were sellouts to them. :rollno: True story: One guy in Jacksonville had no other intruments in either monitor, and when we asked for a mix of the instruments in each monitor, he got so worked up, that it ened in an all out fistfight. I kid you not! "I been doing this s#%t for 20 years! If I say you don't need to hear the guitar, you don't need to hear the guitar!" and, "I don't giva a damn about your sound or music. If you can hear yourself, be thankful and shut the f*#k up!" It was a mess! To this day, we cringe when we see a black guy working the sound. I know, that's horrible, but what can you do? We've been scarred.
  4. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    I wonder if that man knows how lucky he is that he did not get his a$$ kicked by the band. Did he? He sounds like he needed a mudhole stomped in him, talking like that.

    You know, we are all supposed to have gotten past all those stupid "if you are [insert color or culture], then you *must* play [stereotypical genre]. People think that, because you are black, you must be rappers or an r&b band. I'm a Texan. Guess what people assume about us? "Oh, you must play country!" Um...no. Not unless you pay me *very* well.

    But then we get throwbacks, like those jerky soundmen, who hold their assumptions wayyyy too dear. I guess evolution works but slowly. People like him haven't become extinct.

    I'm glad you're being treated better, now!

  5. The next sound guy that farks us over is going to hear about it and so is the person that hired them. I'm 0 for 3 right now. The bands I was in the previous decade generally brought their own PA so we were in control. I never dealt with these problems until I moved out here.

    - Dave
  6. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Our roadmanager ended up, um, "adjusting" him.:ninja: Plus he got arrested for throwing the first punch, and the gig got canceled. Since he hired this idiot, the promoter paid us anyway. :cool: It was ugly.
  7. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Amen, bro! We used our tax refund last year to buy a complete PA system that will serve well in any venue but a very-large one. It is easy to use, too. Unless we are recording live, or the venue has a house sound person, we really do not need a soundman. One of the band spouses keeps an eye on it for us. After having rude treatment from soundpeople, we like it better on our own.

    That being said...

    One of the ickiest venues I've ever been in has a *great* soundman! Boomerz...its a sports bar. Sports bars are often not very good to play in, because you get very little crowd energy. You are just background noise for when the game is on a commercial.

    But the sound man in there is just fantastic. He can listen for the right things, sound checks efficiently, and has any lingering problems corrected within the first two songs. He stays out of your business, and doesns't tell you how the cow is going to eat the cabbage any further than, "I need you to turn up/down". I trust him when he says that, because I know he cares about the entire mix, not just the vocals or guitar.

    I wish every sound man/woman was just like him.

  8. tribal3140

    tribal3140 Banned

    Nov 9, 2004
    near detroit...uh
    99.99999999999999999% of sound guys are lazy and bad
    and I love the ubiquitous "I've been a sound guy for 30+ years"
    I always say yea but youve sucked the entire time.

    I've played a few thousand gigs and no matter where you are they will find a way to screw you out of pure apathy.
    lethargic manatees with bad 80's metal written over them all.

    Every blue moon a guy will do you justice and even the good ones get too drunk sometimes and screw up the sound.
    We have actually had a large scale bar fight because of the sound guy f%&*** our sound up on purpose.
    We got royally screwed when we played with psychopath records bands (zug island and twisted) they pay extra to make the openers look bad.

    wow what a sore spot to all bass players!:mad:
  9. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    He needed "adjusting", and I'm glad it was y'all that did it. And he went to jail, too...there *is* justice in the universe! Cool promoter, to pay you. He knows where his bread gets buttered. All the sound men on Earth can't make good bands do shows with him, if said sound men are rude and nasty.

    Or in jail...LOL!

    Cherie ;)
  10. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Funniest thing: I was playing an acid jazz gig here in Atlanta about 5 years ago, and the soundman was snockered! T Raj will know who I'm speaking of, if he's ever played the Apache. This shmuck was so drunk, one of the patrons ened up working the sound for the night. During our set, he staggered up to the stage and tugged on one of the background vocalist pants leg, while he was in the middle of his feature part, and said, "Hey folk, I left my cognac over by the keyboard. Pass that to me."
  11. We had a bad experience...

    The last performance I did at uni was shocking - (I'm on the final year of my degree so it REALLY matters to me that it all goes well for everyone - I'm not a techie, but I was there for the 6-7 days all the bands (including mine) were practicing 4-hours solid and getting pretty darn good near the end...)

    We turned up at the venue (a **** pub about 2 miles out in the sticks in Barnsley) 2-3 hours before we were told the 3rd year bands were to go on...we sat through a few of the first year bands who weren't bad considering - then there was an hour and a half break before we started...

    Half an hour AFTER we were due on we plugged stuff in and started playing - WITH NO TIME WHATSOEVER FOR ANY KIND OF SOUNDCHECK! There were a few problems to say the least - we were also being marked on "continuity" or some bollocks like that, and our teacher can be very picky about this. The soundguy was rushing us like hell, and (due to the lack of setup/soundcheck time and "continuity" issues) ALL the guitars started going out of tune between everyones set (there are 8-9 of us, and we're all playing in each others bands for different songs etc...y'know the kind of thing) - yeah, but because the swap over point was like what...1 minute max per band? - no one was able to check their tunings or anything, there was one track I was playing guitar on and I turned on the amp and got BLOODY loud feedback off it because the soundguy never soundchecked it and WE were to blame?!

    Anyway, I did my bits and sat down - the FOH mix was absolute bolloc*s and it was shocking to hear 7-8 songs which USED to sound brilliant come out sounding like garbage (i.e. out of tune, not greatly in time) because of the monitoring and the FOH mix (oh yeah, did I mention you cound hardly hear anything onstage?) being practically non-existant and unbalanced...

    Fair enough - if it happens on a gig, you can complain then go away never to return, but this is for a DEGREE (a BA hons degree at that) and whether we like it or not, the downgraded marks we got that night for "some issues with the tuning" may effect our final mark which will stick with us all for the rest of our lives!!!
  12. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    One of the qualifications to be a "professional" soundman around here is to be as unprofessional as possible. The good, polite ones are the exceptions.

    The norm is some deaf guy who's either way too old or way too young to even appear competent behind the controls. I've had soundguys talk over the PA asking *us* to adjust our levels IN THE MIDDLE OF A F*&KING SONG.
  13. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

    Luckily everwhere I've played we run our own sound, whether the place has a house PA or not.
  14. Yeah, that's what we're going to start doing. At least, we're going to bring our own sound guy. I'd rather play a gig for free than suffer some wanna-be-rockstar-douchebag sound guy.

    Thankfully, I work at Meyer Sound and they have a PA system that employees can check out and use on gigs. It doesn't get any better than Meyer. :D

    - Dave
  15. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Anymore I am a huge fan of this approach. Even if the band I'm playing with has to bring our own PA it's almost always preferable to using the house soundguy. Some places get mad about it.. but as long as it's talked out in advance it tends to work out fine.
  16. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    We have our own PA that can cover pretty much any venue that is thrown at us and a drummer that is one of the best sound engineers that you could hope to meet. So we never have to deal with bad sound engineers.

    In fact we have never come across a venue with their own sound engineer. One pub in my town has a house engineer and another venue thats now closed used to have their own sound engineer but thats all I've ever come across.

    Bands here are expected to have their own equipment and be able to run their own sound. (or have their own sound engineer)
  17. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    In addition to that, I would have told him that he doesn't have to worry about anyone else running through his board after I tell every musician and fellow soundman about his antics and he's black-balled from ever running sound in the area again.
  18. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Eggggggg-zak-ly! The venue is a "musician's hangout". Lots of musicians saw what happened. I have not seen that guy running sound in our area for almost two years, now. ;-)

  19. Just got another one...

    My band was after a gig in a local bar in Sheffield caled the "Grapes" - we've played there before with no problems...today our singer rings up asking for a gig. The place has changed hands, and they now EXPECT THE BAND TO PAY THE HOUSE SOUNDMAN £250 ($450-500) IF WE WANT TO PLAY THERE!

    I'm torn as to weather to go there more often to support bands and try to help them cut SOME losses or boycott the bloody place!!! (its one of the few (4-5) places in Sheffield that'll have original bands playing... THATS WHAT PISSES ME OFF! - its not much bigger than my living room either, so theres NO WAY bands would make their money back unless they charge about £15 per head on the door)

    It wouldn't be TOO bad if I knew they were using the BEST quality gear - but I know for a fact that their EQ racks are just cheap £130 Behringer ones