Tuesday, March 6. 2007
Wow! The fans were crazy loud! So cool and ouch, my ears. Being surrounded by so much energy is an instant thrill that flows excitement through everyone fortunate enough to be immersed. The band can feel it and reacts with their music, the crowd reacts to the band's spinning of the wheel with more energy and round and round it goes into a spiraling frenzy. Meanwhile, I am wedged firmly in the middle amongst and amidst the masses with the auditory blast of the band at my finger tips. Oh my, what is one to do when the audience's exuberance begins to drown out the band? Well, I turn it up of course, and so I did and so it was and so that spinning wheel spun even faster. Fun show!! Loud show! and just as in last blog I laid focus on the grumpy, greeders and other human feeders of Texas, today I would like to highlight the other side of the natural balance shared a glimpse of the amazing and magical energy of experiencing a massive clustering of humans on an adventure of smiles. Which the Texians do quite impressively well. Oh, did I mention that I do love Texas?
**** Dear Ratty ****
Hey Dave, I've finished reading through the log from day one until now and its been both interesting and fun. Thanks for doing something like this.
I have two questions though, and I apologize if you've already answered them already. I hear about rehearsals, and I think you mentioned them at one point. What are rehearsals for a live tour? Is it just the band rehearsing the songs they'll play, or do you set up a PA and get things tweaked?
The second thing I've been wondering about is the opening acts. Do they set their console up behind yours, and are they simply patched into your desk before they hit the PA? Also, do they share the lighting rig and snake?
Ok, rehearsals come in several flavors. With the Peppers, which do not perhaps follow the norm, there are the few month of pre album rehearsals with just the band in a small space where they do song writing and the band writes the music.
Then they record the album. Then they do pre tour rehearsals for a month or so pretty much all by themselves where they get up to speed rocking the tunes to start the tour. Then there are a few weeks of pre-production rehearsals with the monitor rig.
Next and overlapping and separately is a week or so of production rehearsals where the sound lights and video all set up in an arena and make sure all the sound, lights, video and staging gear interfaces and works together.
Finally there is usually a "production day" or two where the band and all the gear rock in unison preceding the first "real" show.
As far as my interaction, I increasingly "visit" as the tour approaches and listen and learn the new songs by hanging out. I spend a good amount of time at pre-production rehearsals and this last time, that is where we got the new Pro Tools recording rig all dialed in. I then move over to the tail end of production rehearsals, mess with the sound system a bit and off to tour, bye bye!
More typically, many large bands where theatrics are integral, will set up for an extended period of time in a large venue to get it all dialed with the band and production, but with the Peppers since it is truly and quite purely music oriented, with the production merely highlighting and drawing focus to the somewhat free form and constantly changing set list, we setup up cool gear, the band comes and rocks and there is not the weeks or more of choreography.
As far as support acts, you you pretty much hit the nail on the head. They either use a board that Rat supplies (Mike Watt) or quite often, as is the case with Gnarls and Mars, they bring in all their own FOH and monitor gear and patch into the the main PA system. Something of note is: Peppers/Myself always give support acts full control without restrictions or limitations over the sound system. It is truly a level playing field plus, support acts are given a sound check every show day and Peppers sound check perhaps once every six to nine months, if that. Though the Peppers backline techs do test the gear and play a song or two.
**** End Dear Ratty ****
For all y'all that are curious about the keyboard setup that Chris Warren, the drum tech, plays behind the guitar rig, here it is:
The controller on the left is hooked up to a Mac laptop and does the sound for snow. The one on the right is for the vocoder sound on Anthony's vocal on By the Way. Anthony sings and while he is singing, Chris plays the vocoder that creates an altered real time effect on his voice that shows up as an extra input to me. I then have to remember to turn it on and follow the level by hand and mute afterwards. Easy stuff, as long as everyone never forgets to do their part.
Okey dokey, off to sleep my way to Houston,
Monday, March 5. 2007
Some times life can be a blur and while sliding back and forth in bits of time as we take a look out the window of a jet landing in San Antonio through the eye of an open shutter camera, proof of that blurry life concept is confirmed.
Texas is a proud state that is not only large but there are also a lot of cows and steers. I have a theory that it is the generational teachings of ranching which involves the corralling of fairly dim witted animals by scaring them a little bit with dogs and cowboys with hats on horses and then putting some food in a fenced area that is equally effective for turning four legged critters into dinner as it is for corralling votes from the idiot American public that makes up a high percentage of our country. Hence, the only logical reason we could possibly have babbling corrupt lying dumb ass running our country.
Anyway, Texas is proud and big and was home of Davey Crocket and Jim Bowie (the knife) and past famous wars. Hey, the Alamo!
Hmmm, actually I don't have any recollection of it. But I do remember Texas police setting up drug inspection checkpoints and randomly searching vehicles for degenerates carrying "The Pot" as they crossed over the boarder (from Louisiana to Texas)Â into the lovely overheated terrain of of oil, ego,Â greed and red necks. Fortunately, I was not a partaker in "The Pot" but my heart and compassion goes out to those unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of twisted mind with a gunÂ or a badge. That was back in '86 though when I had an immature illusion that Americans actually had some sort of privacy rights, you know, that whole freedom silliness that is supposed to make us proud Americans. Since then and well over a million miles traveled about and around this ball we live called Earth, I have found my way to seeing things a bit more clearly, perhaps. Texas pride, American Pride, Shit kicker pride. Perhaps we are truly only as great as we are willing to be humble.
Anyway, don't get me wrong, every city, state and country has it's fair share of assholes and I don't really mind them too much as we need them around to keep the friendly humans from getting lazy. Oh, and the Mexican food here is all good, as are many of the people I know here and speaking of Mexican food the 24 hour place to eat here is called Mi Tierra
And this big friendly guy has rooster. Continuing the wander I yesterday head down to the sexily named AT&T Center where Peppers will play in a few days
to visit another Rat Sound tour called Taste of Chaos
Eight bands, rotating stage and six Rat crew on the road with another V-Dosc rig. It is desire and duty to visit fellow Rats whenever the opportunity permits. Greg, Steve, Tony, Taka, Baby Food and crew chief Tommy LBC are out there running the sound and boy that tour moves fast and hard. Five in a row shows, covering ground so fast it makes peppers tour look like it's barely moving. Basically it is the closest thing to a roadie boot camp you can find on larger yearly full production scale, possibly second only the grand daddy of gruel, The Warped Tour. It is a love hate thing and the people that tour and enjoy the travels of Taste and Warped are a special breed indeed and it where we find out what the crews are really made of with it being a starting point for many a successful sound career, oh and quite a few crash and burns as well.
This tour bus with trailer setup is not uncommon on higher density tours. It is pretty cool for bands that travel relatively light to be self contained, often with band, crew and all the backline gear as a single traveling unit.
For a show like this with 5 minute set changes, dual digital consoles is pretty much the way to go. All the bands' sound engineers store their settings and at the press of a button are ready to rock. Yes, digi boards are not my favorite but neither is the sound of an MP3 player, the issue is, sometimes it is just too inconvenient to carry a live band in my pocket. This tour is running a pair of Yamaha PM5D's both out front and on stage.
The rotating stage has an "A" side and "B" side and the is a console pair for each. While one band plays, the next is setting up behind and spinny spinny poof, there is the next band when the time comes to rock. Speaking of rock, here is a shot of 30 Seconds to Mars
Followed by The Used
Cool to watch and cool to see my fellow soundies in cities afar. Finally, look at that! How cute, the Texans have put cowboy hats on the bathroom signs, awwww
Ok, I will see y'all tomorrow and hey, how about we head right back over to the AT&T Center for a change, wheeee!
So the Champaign show was in this little round arena that left me finding the FOH mix area at around 65 feet from the front of the stage.
Personally, I am really easy going about how far I mix from now a days. I did not used to be that way though. I used to have a miserable time mixing if I was too far from stage or I was not exactly the same distance every show. Too far away and I would mix too loud and heard too much room sound, too close and it sounded too loud and I would have troubles keeping things balanced as you can get away with a much sloppier mix when you are close and still have it sound good, but only to other people that were close as well. Those days are long gone. I do like to be centered but sound wise, heck I am fine being 100, 150 or even 200 feet away and letting more audience humans have a better view. That does not come without a bit of a cost though. I miss seeing the band up close and clearly. So in Champaign, it was refreshing to be so close and I took the opportunity to squeeze in some photos between audio cues and the room sounded quite good so I did not have a lot of adjusting to do. So, for those of you that like the band shots, I hope there are a few here you'll enjoy.
Oh, and hello Ratketeers! You three got a special treat and it was great to hang and cool gig choice to venture your adventure and thank you for swag heaven! And then comes time to roll and off to San Antonio and with big eyes and an honored heart I took the shortcut way around the twenty hour bus ride
Gaining a few hours of time not lost buying myself a dent in the infinite string of unanswered emails and ever growing "to do" list and a pile of moments I try and spare each day to share the fleeting adventure called tour with you. Next up, I take a little trip to another rock show on my off.
The constantly in motion and promising that I will do my best to catch up and respond to all,
Sunday, March 4. 2007
Good morning! So on our day off a few days back in Des Moines, we went on a roadie adventure called bowling as world saturated in outdoor ice inspired us to have an indoor group field trip. Here you can see a us roadies piled into a hotel shuttle
Where we headed toward the fierce competition of the lanes
to roll and bowl
Followed by a most fun adventure with our dreamy Des Moines, Ashley, Heather and Katie and joining Salim, Scott and I for blizzardy hike to a closed bar. But wait, like light in the darkness (literally) we found the curious place called The Blazing Saddle filled with fun and friendly people having way too much fun. Instantly, Scott joins in as he was filled with exuberance and joins in the gaiety of the festivities
OK, off to go see what's inside the world called gig,
Saturday, March 3. 2007
Good morning world of coldness
Blizzards are both cold and windy. Furthermore, they tend to heap a big pile of inconvenience onto this contraption called life. While slippery is an asset for some things, when blankets of snow form a slippery layer between car tires and the earth on which they travel, the likelihood of a less than optimum outcome is considerably increased. Being that our roadie lives are spent a midst a traveling road show, it is safe to say that we are not overly thrilled that this blizzard has decided to showcase it's capabilities in the same city and time that we are attempting to rock. The treacherous blizzard attempts to unrockify us but to no avail as we will persevere sally forth and onward ho.
**** Electric Inside ****
Something so magnetically wonderful about the going inside where the electrons flow. Ooooh, she is electric inside! and in we go as a piece of gear has found the desire for some special attention. This time it is the CD burner that records the reference CD's off the Pro Tools rig. These are the disks that on any particular day a band member will request a recording of the show to hear a certain jam or approve something for a Euro "B" side or numerous other things that inspire a listen from their side. It stopped working yesterday but too late try and fix for the gig. Also and of course, JF wants a copy of the yesterday's gig, Arrrrgh!! No major deal as we can re-copy it off the Protools recording but, it is just too funny how the day it stops working is one of the not so common show-listen requests. So, this little guy has been a die hard workhorse and in a world where CD recorders on the road often have an average life span of less than a year, this 5 year old unit is/was amazing. It wont read CD's was the initial problem and then I tried the "8 inch drop" method of mechanical realignment only to find that the CD tray became fully jammed and loose things have now appeared inside. Further attempts at the drop method proved equally frivolous. Apart she comes, and Roadie Lee has her in pieces for me to gander.
and in that boxy box is where the issue lives. I forgot to photo the full glory of all the guts involved but it turns out the the problem was the lasery spining thing decided that it was going mobile.
The lose bits were screws and after some figuring, fiddling and only a small hand full of spare parts, hurray she is all fixed up!!! Plus, it was the special day for repairs as I got to fix JF's and Chad's iPod's as well! One had a faulty hold switch and the other was locked up so I took them both apart, reseated the wire to the hold switch and pulled the battery and then did a system reset to fix the locked unit. Three for three, today is a good day!!
**** Bye Bye for now, Electric Inside ****
Hello old school transportation method. How glad am I that the tour bus has superceded this as a way to get around.
Lets see, figure 4 roadies per coach and we have 60 crew so we would need 15 or so of these, no back lounge, no coffee machine, no bunks, wow so glad I was not doing a major rock tour in the mid 1800's!! Those roadies had it rough.
**** Scott the Lampi's Comic ****
**** End Scott the Lampi's Comic ****
Hey, wait a minute, Scotty you just wait till I tell the rest of the story!!
Thursday, March 1. 2007
Bus ride to Des Moines, ice storm outside and doing a bit of bus bunk computing.
Back and running and all just seems to pick up where it left off. Currently the biggest challenge with these tour stops and starts, lays in the band's laps. Production wise, the trucks are loaded and still how we left them on the last gig, business as usual for us. Whereas the band guys take playing every show the best they can to heart and are caught balancing well needed breaks with hitting the ground full speed. It kind of reminds me of athletes in a way but rather than training for an event, they need to stay constantly in shape. To much push and they burn out, not enough and they become unsatisfied with the shows. The constant self pressure to strive, is an impressive trait and those that have it, often end up in amazing places and lives, like our our musical Peppers friends have.
And here is something I have been meaning to do for a while, have a look around Milwaukee gig from FOH perspective
Speaking of perspectives, have a look at an empty arena from Anthony's point of view
**** Nerd Speak ****
Stuff breaks. I guess "breaks" is a bit of a catch all for the various forms of malfunction that the various items decide to embrace. Today our broken thing adventure involved what we call the Eventide H3500. The reason we call it that is that those are the words written on the front. What this thing does is something we soundies call "effects." Now, I am not one that is big on effects and with my setup only having a grand total of two, I pretty much use about 1/3 of the norm for shows half the size. The good part is that I don't really need a lot of effects with this band, the bad news is that with only two units, I really really do need and use them and losing one is a big deal. Furthermore, the units I like are neither new nor easy to find nor particularly special for that matter. Just simple older dependable easy to use and solid sounding effects boxes. I leave all the "buy the latest and greatest gizmo to the engineers that feel thave it still run, electronics often are similar and depending on what it is, there are usually a bunch o bits that ya don't really need. In this case, it was a small capacitor that most likely helped with keeping RF noise down. What really matters is that not only does the unit work but also it is a tiny bit lighter as well!!
**** New! Scott the Lampi Cartoon Series ****
How about a little cartoon series made by Scott to join our bloggery space?
**** End! Scott the Lampi Cartoon Series ****
Finally, ooooh, look out the bus door over here, yikes, looks like the damn storms are fitting to chase us again, oh well.with my setup only having a grand total of two, I pretty much use about 1/3 of the norm for shows half the size. The good part is that I don't really need a lot of effects with this band, the bad news is that with only two units, I really really do need and use them and losing one is a big deal. Furthermore, the units I like are neither new nor easy to find nor pe offender.
Now for some finger crossing that it was just a spare and we did not really need him in there anyway as we plug the unit back in and .... Hurray! It works!!!
Some may ponder why they would put spare blobby blobs in there and logic would dictate that it must of had a purpose but that is not always the case. Just like you can take a bolts out of a car motor and have it still run, electronics often are similar and depending on what it is, there are usually a bunch o bits that ya don't really need. In this case, it was a small capacitor that most likely helped with keeping RF noise down. What really matters is that not only does the unit work but also it is a tiny bit lighter as well!!
**** New! Scott the Lampi Cartoon Series ****
How about a little cartoon series made by Scott to join our bloggery space?
**** End! Scott the Lampi Cartoon Series ****
Finally, ooooh, look out the bus door over here, yikes, looks like the damn storms are fitting to chase us again, oh well.
The watching out for and making huge water messes, but worth every second,
PS, Foa anyone interested, I did an interview for Guitar Center a few months back that just came out.
I was hesitant at first but when I saw that several of my musician friends had done them too, well, I gave in. The crazy thing though is that it's all well known musicians and then me, Dave Rat the roadie!!
How funny is that! This is not going to help me out with trying to shake the "5th Beatle" heat I keep getting. Eeeek!
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