Today is a new day! And do you want to know what is special about this 'day of new'? Well, today is a day where every single thing I get to use for the rock show is new, Oh Joy! Not new like 'brand new,' new like it came from the rental shop and I get to start from dead scratch building all the audio settings. One of the questions I get asked often by people at shows is "Do you really know what everyone of those knobs do?" Well, actually I don't because there are a few in the middle that I am convinced do not do anything useful but for the most part, "yes, I do."
First order of business, communicate to my FOH assist for the day, who's name is Rabbit, how I want all the gear patched and configured. As you all may well have guessed, I am not much one for the standard configurations. Next, I spend a good chunk of time 'zero-ing' everything out to a starting point followed by a good solid hour or more of knob turning. Not only do I know what every knob does, I have actually have memorized how I want them all set.
As an added bonus, I am in a new venue (for me) with a new PA type that I have neither mixed on nor seen in person before called a 'Butterfly System'. Several weeks ago when I found this out, I could hardly contain my excitement and wrote the following email addressed to our leader roadie Bill, the production manger:
"Oh boy, Oh boy!!! I get to use a new PA. Nothing cheers me up like switching to new rig I have never used with a band that does not sound check in a far away place under much scrutiny! Heck, maybe we should get the band to join in the new gear fun and ask John and Flea if they want new guitar and bass rigs for the gig? Oh and we can switch AK to a new type of mic while we are at it and when was the last time you got a new computer? I hear Linux is great, maybe we can all switch to new laptops for the gig and we can all have good times trying to get work done on our new toys!!
As far as those cardioid stumble bumps with an 18" forward and 15" facing the wrong way, I consider them annoying at best. If they work twice as well as company XXX's attempts and 10 times better than embarrassment that company XXXX calls a cardioid sub, I will just be mildly bummed. I am sure they get loud but so does a jack hammer. Nothing like a pile non-linear one-note-wonders to make my day!
OK, kidding aside, I can deal with the gear, just make sure there are some real subs in there on an aux, 8 dual 18"ers minimum and when I get there I guess I will have some fun and see what that PA is really made of.
All good, real dual 18" subs on an aux = happy rat.
As you can see, I was quite excited. I X'ed out the manufacturers names because I did not want one of their competitors to get over-excited and take my comments out of context. Bill of course responded with the all around feel bad response of "Dave, you can have what ever you want for gear, no problem, just let me know." Unfortunately, the only gear I really want is on it's way to Hamburg so I will just have to bring my pirate sword and see if I can maneuver this sound ship through the treacherous round waters.
**** Special Award Celebration ****
I hereby by the powers vested in me award London the "Put rock bands in less than optimum acoustic environment" award. This award was earned by London for it's exceptional and dedicated work done by embracing both Earl's Court and the Roundhouse as musical venues.
Though round sound is not the optimum, the small intimacy of the gig more than made up for it and what makes for a great rock show is a combination of many things. Especially memorable was the super cool ending jam!
First thing in the morning everyone headed over to the BBC. One thing that is really important about doing TV stuff is to maximize the amount of time that you spend waiting around. Actually this show was pretty tightly run and had a just a short eight hours of time slop plus another two spare hours just in case. The combination of extra helpings of spare time and the fact that my importance was minimal there, with Andrew onboard covering the recorded audio portion, my adventure for the day took me elsewhere and over to tomorrow's gig at the Roundhouse. Anyone want to take a guess at what shape the Roundhouse is?
This recently refurbished historic venue was home to shows by many rock greats like The Doors, Hendrix and the fateful gig where some punter threw Frank Zappa off the stage pretty much breaking the Zappa for a while. Very cool, how excited am I to be back in London doing the acoustical equivalent of the baby sister of Earl's Court? Round House, round, hmmmm? Sound bounces a-round in the merry-go-round of sound. If my mental calculations combined with years of experience serve me correctly, curved surfaced are really good at taking all the sound that hits them and focusing it into a central area. As I learned from Earl's Court, London does have a fondness for embracing acoustical nightmares as rock venues, so there is a good chance that this will be right on track.
Speaking of tracks, take a guess about what the 'Roundhouse' was built for originally. Did you ever have a 'Thomas the Tank Engine' train set? Ever wonder how trains turned around? Well, for the non-locomotively inclined, they used to, maybe still do, build round buildings with a rotating floor that the train would drive into and be spun to travel out on any one of the numerous tracks. These train-engine-spin-buildings were called roundhouses and later could be retrofitted to double as a legendary rock venue.
After waiting as long as I could in hopes of hearing the new sound system, I finally had to move on to the next adventure and off to BBC to meet up with the rest of the crew, hey, check out this car:
We don't have those at home. And a 45 minute cab ride that consisted of about a thousand zigzag turns across the traffic filled city
landing me about 5 minutes shy of perfect timing:
Have you ever looked upwards in a TV studio? Holly crap, ceck out at all that stuff up there!
Look, They put lights on those scissory things that you see with a boxing glove on them in cartoons!
I have been getting requests for more info on roadie Daniel's mysterious monitor world so I will take on that project soon in the form of attempting my first interview. Not sure when, but soon. In the mean time, he can be seen here wielding his sword.
Behind him you can see Manny has been lost to the black side of the berry as he is going through the early stages of crackberry addiction. And as our work day comes to a close, look what I found: