Tuesday, September 10, 2013

When "Things Happen" On A Gig....

Recently, I worked a gig at a local bar on a night when there were 4 bands scheduled to play. It was not one of my better gigs that I have ever worked before! Let me tell you about it.

I was mixing sound for one solo guitarist/vocalist and three other rock bands at a local bar/club. I was using the in-house sound system for the show. Unfortunately, I had technical glitches during each set that night. Problems arose during the evening but, I tried to fix them to keep the show going. Most of the problems were centred on bad microphone cables and some questionable gear in the sound system.

During my time mixing the bands, I was also having a bad night. Some songs during the sets sounded okay, and others did not work for me, the audience or the band. Needless to say I was having some issues and was trying to fix things on the fly and keep the show going during the night.

Eventually, I got thing under control by the last band set and got through the gig. After the show was over, I went to each and every band member that I could find and apologized for less than stellar performance with the sound mix during the evening. Almost everyone from the bands said not to worry, that I had done a good job with what I had to work with. It was not a perfect night but, I did make it through it.

Once I was finished with tear down and cleanup of the stage gear, that was when the show's organizer decided to talk to me about my performance that night. At first he made some comments about how the night turned out and then started on with 20 questions about my abilities as a sound technician. I felt like I I was getting lectured by this guy about every little mistake that happened that night. He asked me why I was having so many problems during the night and I answered, "sometimes things just happen". Well, he DID NOT like my answer and that is when he started grilling me on my performance as sound tech.

After about 20 mins, I was starting to get frustrated with this guy because, I had already admitted that I messed up during the night and I apologized to him for poor performance. Finally after getting a lengthy lecture for the guy, he mention that he was reluctant to pay my money for the show but, he had to. Then he tossed an envelope at my on the table and then walks away.

I picked up the money, grabbed my toolkit and left the bar. Now I was feeling like a crapbag and pissed at the same time. For a quick minute, I thought about just giving the guy his money back and trying to forget about the gig. I reconsidered when I thought about all the time I spent that day getting the stage ready for the bands, time spent mixing the bands, and waitng until after the bar closed to get my money. I ended up keeping the money because, I was there for the whole show, and I did the best I could with the house system and the gear that I had available.

The other part of the story is the house system in the bar. Over the time I have mixed shows in the place, the owners have fixed/replaced a few things with the system but, it is still not the best it could be. The problem I have had working at this venue is the equipment problems that I deal with whenever I work a gig there.

Everytime I had mixed a show at this bar, there is always something that is broken, non-operational, unplugged or missing. It is very frustrating when you go to use a stage monitor and find out that the input jacks are broken and the monitor cannot be used. Or when you go to use the house mixer and find out that a bunch of gear has been unplugged from the system. It is the problem of "too many cooks in the kitchen" scenario working with the house system.

Talking with other local sound techs who have worked at the gig, they have told me that they choose not to work gigs there anymore. They just didn't want the hassle of having to work with a house sound system that is always broken down. I don't know if I will ever work there again but, if I do, I am going to ask for more money for my time.

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