2pm - Fifty people all checking into a hotel and sometimes the hotels don't really comprehend the concept of getting all the room keys ready before we arrive. It is gonna be a while. Priority goes to the crew that are have to head to the gig soon so they can get a shower beforehand. Today is a day off for sound engineers, backline, band party and some others but it is a pre-rig day for riggers, lighting crew, sound crew. The tour will be pre-rigging a few times till everything gets dialed in. We have back-to-back shows in different cities coming up so pre-rigs will soon become a thing of the past.
Super tired, I will get used to sleeping on a bus soon enough but it will take a few rides to get there. Shower and a nap and wake up to a PIN message from Chad (drummer human) about going to see Ted Nugent. Hmmm, not a big fan. He has some pretty rough political and alpha-male related hunting views that don't mesh with my view of the world around me. On the other hand, something to do and am curious to meet him even if I don't agree with him. Plus I used to rock out to Stranglehold when I was a kid.
Oh, PIN messages are pretty much the life blood of communication out here. BlackBerry's have an internal network where you can send a super fast, confirmed delivery, free text messages directly to another BlackBerry, pretty much worldwide. They are so effective that we use them for sound check and staying in touch during the gig from FOH to mons. Next in line is SMS text messaging but the charges add up and they are less reliable and slower, emailing phone to phone is slow and not confirmed. An actual phone call? Way too intrusive! Ever tried to talk on the phone during a rock show?
2am - Ted Nugent played a club gig, Chad and I actually rode over with him, his family and the bass player to the gig. On one hand, everyone was super friendly, on the other hand, my opinion was reinforced. I can not remember ever hanging out with someone that I disagree with more.
10:30pm - mix position and mere minutes till show time and I am surrounded 18,000 Spaniards that are ready to rock. The pre show thrill is contagious. So many people so excited! But wow, this is one big echo chamber of a room and what I refer to as "not an optimum acoustic environment."
Here is a pic of FOH just after doors opened:
Last night I started zeroing in on a setup that works best. I ran vocals, kick and snare to the inside clusters, bass, guitar, toms and cymbals to the outside clusters. The idea is that the bass and guitar donâ€™t really step on each other frequency wise. The vocals pretty much have their own PA system except the short bursts of kick and snare, which are of short enough duration to where you do not hear any conflict there. It was quite interesting to clearly here the drop in clarity when I moved the vocals into the outer cluster with bass and guitar. The plan is working! Uh, the band is walking. Time to rock.
4am â€“ Bus bunk. Overnight drive to Madrid. The show ran a bit smoother for me as I had a better handle on the mixing strategy and also I mixed at a bit lower level. It is hard not to get too excited and turn it up when I have that much power at my fingertips, not sure exactly how many watts but figure somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 watts.
**** Issue of the Day â€“ Pro Tools Crashes ****
The vibration from the subwoofers is crashing the Pro Tools system. Went down 3 times last night and once the previous night. We are going to record to a different hard drive at the next show. We currently use an external 500 gig. Maybe a lower density drive will be more stable and we have a pile of 120 gig drives. Plus there is an extra internal 400 gig drive as well.
This tour we upgraded the touring recording rig from the old DA88 system to a 32 channel G5 based Pro Tools system.
The quick run down is:
32 Channels of analog in, AES/EBU out Focusrite mic preâ€™s into
32 channel AES/EBU input Lightviper 500 ft fiber optical snake into
Digidesign 192â€™s plus a
Sync I/O for locking to video, screen, powered monitors, Command 8 and APC.
The recording rig allows the mic preâ€™s to be on stage or at FOH and the recorder to be up to 500 feet away. We carry everything necessary to record and mix down a live show. The entire rig including the 500 ft snake, 10 spare drives and all the cables fits in 2 15 space racks and three Pelican cases and it takes about 15 minutes to setup. Now we just need to stop those damn hard drive errors.
**** Highlight of the Day - The Automatic Espresso Machine on the Bus ****
We have a one button espresso machine on our bus. That is huge! Not only that, our tour bus quite nice, especially for a Euro bus and the driver, Jans, is super cool! Tight european roads and narrow streets limit the width and wheel bases of European buses making them smaller and bouncier than the North American counterparts. This bus is pretty well modeled after the ones from home rather than the cramped dark musty double decker's I have ended up in on so many tours.
Probably not the best time for coffee now though, as my vision is blurring. Sleep time.
I remove the light focusing blow-up man-doll from my bunk as there is not enough room for both of us. Maybe some other night if I get lonely, but tonight the man-doll gets to sleep in the back lounge with no pillow. And I climb into my cubicle, alone.