Sunday, June 12, 2005

Shows: Fire the Sound Man

I saw Gaelic Storm here in Columbus a few nights ago. I really liked the show and I'll say more about it in a later post, but there's something that I've got to get off my chest, and I decided to post it separately since it's not really fair to the bands to knock them for something which they often can't control.

In short, there is a lot of room in the world for talented FOH mixers, because way too many folks in this line don't have the first clue as to what they are doing. This is especially true in smaller clubs. It's no minor problem, either. A bad sound man can easily ruin a show, no matter how well the band does.

Gaelic Storm brought their own mixer, I think, and he did OK. The fiddle was too loud and the whistle was too low for most of the show, but he was able to keep the overall level consistent, if a bit too loud, and the rest of the instruments were well-balanced. The electronic pipes didn't work at all, but that might have just been a fluke rather than being unprepared.

Openers the Bogtrodders unfortunately, had to make do with another guy who I've seen at Little Brothers before. The first and most reliable sign that the sound guy doesn't know what he's doing is that the overall level starts too loud and gets steadily louder as the show progresses.

Here's what I think must happen: Sound guy notices that the guitar isn't loud enough, so he turns it up a little. Later, he notices that the fiddle isn't prominent enough so he turns that up, too. And so on and so forth. It starts out loud and becomes deafening. It's made worse by the fact that having done this at so many shows he's probably partially deaf himself and getting deafer as the show goes on.

So although I wanted to watch the opening act, I kept moving further and further from the stage as the volume got steadily higher, and was finally driven right out the front door. I like the music, but my hearing is more valuable to me.

No comments: