(Venting a little)..If you’re a sound guy…come on brah!!
I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve been to A LOT of live shows lately, and somehow the sound people/person always seem to not be able to get their shit together, and it ends up making amazingly talented people sound..like shit! This even happened at this year’s Rock the Bells concert during Lauryn Hill……Lauryn Hill! When she says turn the fckin guitar up, turn that shit the fuck up!
They need to take their headphones off for a second, and listen to what the room is hearing, or get on a walkie-talkie with someone in the crowd, in the front and in the back. For some reason it seems to be the vocals more often than not too. I can never hear what they’re saying..and if you ask me..a person that sounds like they’re mumbling words over a song is worse than them doing nothing at all. Sometimes I wish the bands would just stop trying to do the vocal parts in their live shows once they realize no one can hear it, because then it can border on torture. The music sounds great except it’s got some incoherent noise on top of it. You have to buy the album to know what the hell it’s supposed to sound like, and that kinda defeats the purpose of a live show.
Part of the problem, I think, is that everybody has been pressured into believing that the cheapest, shittiest portable stage mics are the best way to go for a live performance, but unless you’re a deep-throated rapper with a low tempo, those mics sound like shit, guaranteed. Even if the sound guys would turn your voice up, it’d still sound pretty horrible.
Cheap mics just don’t do justice to great voices, especially when singing. If you want your live performance to be enjoyable and memorable, spend more than $150 for a vocal stage mic – preferably $200 – $600. Sometimes even studio mics are great, even if it means you can’t hold it right next to your mouth the whole time or swing it around over your head. You can still have portability with a great studio mic and if you’re worried about feedback, use some of those in-ear wireless monitors, if you’ve got the extra job to support it, or go without monitors if you can. Think of it as an investment. The crowd will thank you for it, and you will most likely receive a better response to your music, and eventually your marketing promotions.
Other than that, get on these sound guys! If you’re in a band, have one of your guys in the crowd be in constant contact with the sound guy so he can make adjustments on the fly. This isn’t the time for “fuck it everyone’s drunk, (including the sound guy), nobody cares” because people do care. You want people walking out of there saying “that was the sickest band I’ve ever heard live,” not “that was cool but I couldn’t really hear what he was saying, could you?” That’ll pretty much stop the conversation right there and most likely your show will never come up in conversation again, or at least, not in a good way. Bands need to be thinking about this stuff.
If you can do an early sound check, do it! Get there as early as possible the day of and start making sounds! Get pre-sets programmed if you can. I understand a lot of times bands play at events with a lot of other bands and set up time can be limited, but if you can sneak an extra sound check in there, do it. Also, having a live spotter in the audience who can adjust things quickly if there’s a problem, without the artists having to fight for the sound guy’s attention, can help out a lot in those situations where you’re low on set up time.
Venues and Promoters also need to understand that it’s more worth it to get the sound right and take more time with it, than to rush bands on and off the stage, even if it means having less bands, because the people in attendance will ultimately have a better experience. If you’re a band, it might be worth explaining to the promoters that you need ample time to set up your show for this reason.
I’ve come to the end of my rant, but just remember, coming from a sound guy, if you’re a live performer, get on the ass of the sound guy in house pronto. These guys think that they know best, but only you know what you’re supposed to sound like. Have you’re own sound guy, but better yet, get his head out of his ass too and into the crowd where it really matters. To the sound guys out there..you should be looking for this stuff too from bands, get help from them! Get on it! You can do better! This has been a public excuse to rant by a pissed off spectator, camera guy, and sound engineer.
Written by: Dante Cullari Founder & CEO Beat-Play, LLC