Boeing 747 - 400 seat 18N Aisle, Business Class, British Airways. Comfy chair, crap food. Hey good news! I am proud to announce that I am relatively confident that I made it through this tour without losing a single item that I intended on keeping! Life is good, my days of losing things may be over forever, hurray hurray! Now all I need to do is just apply this same functional lossless life living pattern to tours longer than four days and I will be all set.
The Peppers did not win the award they were up for but no condolences desired. All good and you all already know the deep love and appreciation hold for award shows and as much as winning is an artificial thrill tossed in from the peanut gallery, to lose is an affirmation that one has not fully achieved Mcdonalds mass appeal generic status. My priorities and focuses lay elsewhere and from the reports I have received thus far, the sound aspects of the gig were a success.
**** Welcome to the Awards Show ****
A few people have asked me what doing these awards shows is like and about details of my involvement so here goes -
Peppers almost always bring in the backline and monitor rig like we did for the Grammy's but for Brit awards there was no time to ship the gear. That means we go to plan B and we used a mirror image setup of the backline gear that was assembled for situations like this. Daniel, the monitor engineer and Manny, the monitor tech hand carry over the mics and ear molds and we used a combo of locally rented and supplied monitor gear. Formy world at front of house and for the TV audio broadcast, it was purely supplied gear and house PA system.
Typically for live TV stuff everything is slow, very slow. As a rule of thumb, if you need to broadcast on thursday, you would figure out how long it takes to set up, let's say 4 hours, so add 2 hours as a buffer and then double it. Now add an extra day, just to be safe. So that means that if we have a 3 minute performance starting at 8 pm, optimally load in would be at 8 am on wednesday but only if we have wild and crazy TV people, normal TV people would double it again and then add a week if they could.
Day 1. At some point after load-in the techs set up all the gear which is immediately followed by the most important part of the day, which in professional circles is referred to as 'waiting around.' Usually the best place to do this waiting is around something familiar like wherever they rolled the risers that all the backline gear resides upon. Then at some arbitrary point in the day completely unrelated to the schedule we were handed, the waiting is abruptly interrupted by 20 local stage hands who grab all the gear and roll it on to the stage, at which point we switch to the other mode of operation called 'rushing stressfully.' This is where they try to make it all work, which takes an awkwardly long time and the backline techs rock out for a while and TV people wander around with headsets looking at things. Then, as quickly as it came, rushing stressfully is gone and we perform my personal favorite called 'leaving as fast as we can.'
Day 2 Show Day. Since everything is already set up, tested and ready to go and the dress rehearsal with the band wont occur till 2 PM, call time for the crew can be set a bit later today, so cutting it tight and allotting 2 hours to walk in and turn on the power switches before waiting around should suffice. So double it and then add a 1/2 hour if your particular TV people can be persuaded to allow such a dangerously tight schedule. So on it goes, wait around, the band rocks out for dress rehearsal. The Peppers always jam for awhile which then sends all the TV people into a tail spin saying "Is this the song? This isn't the song? Are they going to play the song? What are they doing? Why aren't they playing the song?" I smile and calmly tell them "Settle down, It's ok, they will play the song, they are warming up."
My adventure at the Brit awards.
TV is almost always 'hands off.' for touring engineers. That means that both in the broadcast truck and in the venue, the TV humans supply a sound engineer and I get to 'use my words' to mix. So I first head out to the broadcast truck and go over a basic a run down with Toby make sure the recording is coming straight off the mics with no alteration pre-tape and go over basic panning and any compressor or gate patching. I then head over to chat with Chris at the FOH sound board and do the same thing. After waiting around for a while, when we switch to rushing mode, I hang out at FOH and help get the PA and sounds all dialed in with the techs playing.
The following day I go back out to the truck and inform them that I will be hanging at FOH for the dress rehearsal and arrange a time after rehearsal where I can come in and dial up the TV mix utilizing a multi track recording of the rehearsal as a source. The band rocks rehearsal and I give a mini crash course of 'mix the Peppers' to the house sound engineer and inform him that I will be in the truck during the live broadcast and wish him luck, rock on. Then back to the truck and with the convenience I of a rewind button, I use my words to get the TV mix dialed in and then they save the settings. After returning to waiting around for a while show time finally arrives and back out to the truck I head and bingo, the band's live music shows up and mixy mixy, 4 minutes of pure joy and thank you, thank you, bye bye. Back to FOH, to see how it went, thank you, thank you, bye bye. At this point my cell phone lights up red and text messages from remote locations to inform me that the TV sound was good and I return to waiting around while gear is packed, get in van bye bye.
So now you all are fully trained and can cover for me next time!
Here is a photo of the stage. Hmmm, is it just me or does this look a heck of a lot like the tongue in cheek rock mockery of a stage set in the Guitar Hero video game? Coincedence or ?