How to Piss Off Your Sound Guy in Five Steps

Categories: Commentary

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Flicker user mil8.
You'll be seeing this in no time!
A couple weeks ago, we introduced you to some of the best live sound engineers in Dallas. Those people voluntarily run complicated circuits late at night in rooms full of beer and idiots. Our hats are off to them. Alan Ayo, who wrote that post, asked each of them what their pet peeves were. Turns out there are a few that emerge as a general consensus. Here, then, is a quick users' guide to infuriating your sound guy or gal.

See also: Nine of the Best Live Sound Engineers in Dallas

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Kiernan Maletsky

Step One: Show up late.
"Be on time and be organized," says Dada engineer Chris Carmichael. OR DON'T. It's rock 'n' roll, baby! If you aren't stumbling in 20 minutes before the doors open, asking if you can borrow a snare drum from the opening band, you're not rocking hard enough.


Step Two: Tell him or her how to be a sound engineer.
Most people in most professions are big fans of this. In fact, you should probably also tell the bartender how to open your can of Pabst and also offer legal advice to the woman in the front who has to go into the law office tomorrow. How could anyone have an idea that's better than your idea? You joined a rock 'n' roll band!

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Flickr user Mr Lang's Photo Club Pigs

Step Three: Remember that the world revolves around you.
You are a Golden God. So don't bother watching the opening band. Paul Quigg at the Kessler gets especially annoyed when you do that. He also hates it when you don't earn an encore but you just go ahead and play one anyway. Who cares if the people who bought tickets are enjoying themselves? You have art and feelings to express!


Step Four: Crank the crap out of all your amps.
Want to really get to Jason Chamlee, who's currently touring as the sound engineer for George Strait but has spent years mixing around town? Go ahead and blow up that amp. He probably doesn't know the room as well as you do, so it's best if you take away his ability to control the levels through the house PA. No one wants to hear your vocals anyway, right?


Step Five: Play too long.
Ever heard the expression "leave 'em wanting less"? No? WELL YOU'RE ABOUT TO MAKE THAT SHIT HAPPEN. This is especially true if you're an opening band. Play that last song for half an hour. Hit that bridge one last time. Jack around on your guitar until everyone's eyes glaze over. Your sound guy will thank you with a swift pull of the plug.

And that's how it's done.

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21 comments
mbencavin
mbencavin

There should have been one of these for how to be the sound guy that pisses off the band. We played a show last night at a club we have played many times. Seems as though they went through some staffing changes. I will not state the name of the venue out of respect to the place. We have played there a few times before and if any issues sound was never really one of them. Here is how to piss off a band.


1.) No DI boxes what so ever to accommodate the keys for a band.(He said he had left them behind. We switch places so 2 of us had to completely sit out half of the show. On top of that they didn't even enough mics to allow us to do our full range of vocals.)


2.) No knowledge of how to mix for a decent sound. (We play with smaller amps for venues that mike so we can get a decent mixed sound and not piss off the sound guy by having amps that are too loud to be mixed correctly. No matter what we asked for he couldn't get a balance between the two amps. Bass was pretty much gone. Kick drum overpowered everything on top of him blaring one of the guitar amps through the monitors and never getting it turned down no matter how we asked. Lead vocals were muddy and could not be understood for every band that night.)


3.) Turning off a mic during a set.(The bass player and drummer both could barely be heard. This coming from the audience. We asked for more and nothing happened. We started a song and when it came time for harmonies he had actually turned the bass players mic off by accident.)


4.) Taking too long to set up mics.(This shows a complete lack of experience. We have gotten pretty efficient at getting drums set up, guitars and bass tuned, and all stands ready to go on the side of the stage. Once the other band is off the stage we get it done in about 5 minutes, 10 at most. With him setting up mics it took a good 25-30 minutes to get going. We were not the first band, so therefore all he should had to do from our experience of playing with more seasoned sound guys, is set the mics and do slight adjustments from his already set mix from the previous bands.)


5.) Cutting the bands set early because of his mistakes.( Because he took so long he tried to cut our set short. We were fed up by this point and finished our original set without his direction. No one complained or even cared except for him.)


There was only one band were the guitars and bass could be heard and that was thanks to there 100 watt tube half stacks and 1000 watt bass stack. When playing at a venue with a pa as loud as this one is, the need for larger amps should not exist. A smaller amp should be just fine and actually allow for better tone and better mixing abillity on his part. Needless to say, if we are offered another show anywhere he is working we will not be playing.  

badfast23
badfast23

, if you have a marshall jcm900 and 2 4x12's and you bass player brought the "fridge" with his ampeg head and 8x10 cabinet, thats all that is going into the PA.

thuggyBear
thuggyBear

"No one wants to hear your vocals anyway, right?"

translation: 

"What, you don't want the mix to be all vocals and kick drum?"

Joe Bannon
Joe Bannon

They should all be fired. Bring your own.

Chris Galt
Chris Galt

The little guy has a thing called a "suck button", and knows how to use it. Usually, empowered by ethic - exercises restraint... Because he/she's the only one that has to critically listen to the show. So you know... best interests and all. Great article, BTW!

Dan Moore
Dan Moore

what if it were about how to sound off your piss guy in five steps?

gideonjarrod
gideonjarrod

Some sound guys are downright awful,  and some can make you sound great with garbage equipment.  In the end, I always try to respect the sound guy and let them know anything I need well before I play so they are prepared as well.  I also thank them for their hard work. 

Crash Stitches
Crash Stitches

Having a rock band with 2 extra mics and 2 keyboards should not necessitate needing your own sound guy LOL

Fritz Toch
Fritz Toch

There's lots of bad venue guys, that's true. And it's not always easy to tell if you've never been there before. I guess modern social media might make that less of a problem, but when I was doing it, you had to be either *really bad* or *really good* to have a rep that preceded you.

Bruce Folck
Bruce Folck

One would hope the venue guy would know the acoustics of his site, at least for a standard band line-up. But for groups like Crash and Fritz mention, yeah, they should consider bringing in their own. (unless their own are like the manic line-snorter that Fritz described)

Fritz Toch
Fritz Toch

This was often me at Clearview, when UNT bands with 5 vocalists, 3 percussionists, and a freaking horn section would want to play on my 24-channel board in that tiny room.

Bruce Folck
Bruce Folck

Way back when, I ran lights for a cover band and sat next to the sound guy. He would always have a couple of slides/switches not connected to anything. When a person would come up and make a suggestion on the sound, he would slide one of these blanks and ask the person, "Is that better?" They usually said "yes."

Crash Stitches
Crash Stitches

Sound guys are generally cool, but they can be dicks too. "What? You have more than one keyboard? You have 4 vocal mics? GOD! FINE, I'LL GET MY EXTRA CABLE AND DI BOX! Why don't you just use the same 2-guitar, bass, vocal setup as everyone else to make my job easier?"

Brian Harris
Brian Harris

5 my ass - I just have one. I show up. That seems to do the trick.

Fritz Toch
Fritz Toch

I was house engineer at a popular club on Greenville, and one weekend we had a tour in. I was there at the appointed time, they rolled in about an hour late. Their engineer and road manager pushed past me into the booth, snorted a couple of lines off their (requisite) Anvil briefcase, and only then addressed me. Needless to say, I was not impressed. It was not a big room and it had a big PA. I was relegated to monitor mix, which left me trapped onstage for the night. The monitor console was on top of the amp rack, so I kept a close eye on the Crowns all night. Somehow, their engineer was clipping the highs, and all I could see was my ass paying for new JBL dome tweeters, so I started nudging the level knobs down. A part of me wondered how much high end loss you could have and still work in the business, and how awful it must have sounded in there, but mostly I just protected the horns and made sure the band could hear themselves. By the end of the night, the knobs on the high end amps were at half. I went to the booth, and almost every fader was at the top. He must've been going crazy trying to figure out how to get more highs out of it, or he was too wasted to care about someone else's gear.

Effie Shaffer
Effie Shaffer

this literally couldn't be a more useless article on anything

Joe Bannon
Joe Bannon

The venue sound guy shouldn't be used, I tell bands to find someone if they can cause the show will sound better.

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