Saturday, June 30. 2007
Night or day which comes first? I dunno but here are a few shots from last night before we wake up for Hamburg.
And off the bus we head and wait a minute, I remember this hotel, how can one forget the circle of critters when looking down from the lobby.
And look, they even included a life like roadie!
So they call this town Hamburg, so silly when people think there is some association between a cities name and what it sounds like. Or perhaps this this truly is the birthplace of the hamburger, Wait, look, there are some prehistoric hamburgers in their early stages of life! Yumm!
This place is cool! All good and a great for a wander and food and beer and friends, roadies like Hamburg.
Friday, June 29. 2007
Typically roadie busses involve a few hang out areas, a bunk section and toilet. Occasionally a shower shows up invariably wit a little sign that says "do not use the shower." Well, imagine our glee when the bus company brought over their newest latest and greatest! A bus with a queen bed suite in the back and a bath tub. Oh, just think of the possibilities as we all line up for the sloshy tub after a hard days work, truly a handy concept. Here we can observe roadie Bill partaking in testing the tubbing delights.
**** Highlight of the Day ****
Yes, it is back, the long lost but not forgotten section! Look what we found! You just have to watch the You Tube video before scrolling down any further, I promise, it is worth it.
Watch the You Tube Video first!!
OK, now look. Hellooooooooo!
Meet roadie Manny the Rigger. Legendary would be fitting. Notice the half eaten habanero pepper in his hand combined with the calm cool collected "about to explode" look on his face. Roadies like hot peppers, even habanero's I ate one, Scotty ate one, Chris Warren ate one, Daniel? Well, not so much, he ate a few tiny bits of one. Some roadies like hot peppers more than others. Habanero peppers are hot, but not when compared to molten lava.
Oh look! A cute little baby PA system, how adorable!
End of Munich part #1,
**** Issue of the Day ****
Look at that magnificent stage, look how open so bold. What could possibly be amiss? As I sit on the bus basking in the illusion of nothing to do for the moment, a PIN message comes through from Dave Lee "Need some help on stage." Grounding, buzz and humm issues can be some of the most illusive of the technical problems we encounter. So seemingly mysterious when everything is exactly the same and from nowhere, what was quite every day for a year, now sounds like a 40 foot mosquito somehow got inside. The issue today was real "stumper."
**** Imbedded Sound Nerd Speak ****
BRAAAAAAAAAAH! Really loud, near full guitar rig volume blares from JF's cabs with differing choices of worse available as the guitar is moved around the stage. Danny our tour electrician, has already checked all the stage and system grounding and using different power and metered everything. What is different? It effects the mainly the guitar rig while the bass rig only a little bit and the PA is quite. What is different, something must have changed. Each buzz, humm or rizz sounds unique in some way and there are two basic ways it infiltrates the audio, by wire or by air. I won't go into depth on it but as a rule of thumb, the best way to tell the difference is "if you physically move things around and it smoothly changes, it is in the air or more accurately, it is some sort of RF radiation. If the issue comes and goes as various things are plugged and unplugged, the issue is some sort of ground loop. Be sure to add the words "usually somewhat or probably."
Perhaps those mischievous lampi's have added a little monster to their rig? I asked that all the lighting and video power be shut down to eliminate it as a possible culprit, no change. I rechecked all the grounding and found that Danny the electric roadie, sure enough had everything is perfect in his world. Grounding stake to the stage, grounding stake at the generator as well as at the distro boxes, also grounding the stage there. AC neutral is bussed to ground at the generator, all good. Dave Lee, let me hear it again, click, BRAAAAAAAAAAH! Have you checked with the other bands to see if they have it?" Yes, they do too but not as loud, everyone has it a bit.
It is not the pedal board as it has been bypassed, it is not backline AC power and it makes no difference whether the guitar is wired or wireless,the noise it changes with the volume on the guitar. So I have Dave Lee walk the stage yet again, as the minutes till the first band tick away and doors have long since opened. It gets louder near the metal arch, so we add another ground stake to the stage and hear no change. "Can you set the guitar down and put a towel over the strings to stop it from the feeding back,? The small various and sounds of a Dave Lee roadie touching the guitar, masks any small change that may be useful to hear. BRAAAAAAAAAAH!
Set it down over there on the stage, and over there, and over there. Finally, good news and I have given you bloggery readers all the info you need to know the cause, have you figured it out? Go back to the first picture, what do you see?
Look - a stage, some seats, some sort of space needle thing that also just happens to broadcast all of the TV stations for the city. Hmmmm, well nothing suspicious here. Wait a minute, you are telling me that that is a high power RF broadcasting antenna just a block away, yikes, we don't want to be near that thing! Uh oh! Sit and think. Is the RF going straight from tower to the guitar pickups or is there another factor, the buzz drops when we it is farther from the stage metal. Sit and think. It has to be the stage itself, the stage is radiating RF and lots of it, massive amounts.
Perhaps the stage is acting like an antenna itself, resonating, re-radiating as it is immersed in the RF field. Well, the good news is I am pretty sure I know what the issue is. The bad news is that solving it may pose a bit of a problem. So the options appear to be:
A) Move the stage far away from the space needle of audio hate.
B) Persuade them to shut off TV for the city or
C) Figure out a way to ground the shit out of the stage in as many places as possible.
Ground the stage, lets take a look.
All wood pads, metal scaffold on wood pads, dry day. The stage is grounded but RF is a differing beast than 50/60hz AC. We need lots of grounds, 20, 30 or more would be good and that may, just may reduce the RF in their general area.
OK, I got it or at least an idea to keep us busy and and feel like an attempt was made and all I need is two cases of liter bottles of water and a big bag of salt. It is a long shot, never tried it before but it theoretically makes sense. We are going to use salt water to ground the stage.
On the second trip under the stage, I noticed that the whole front edge of the stage is sitting on wood pads atop huge aluminum plates atop what I am sure is nice damp grass. The aluminum plates should form a wonderful ground, all we need to do is establish a connection around the wood pad, salt water. I know I am going to take some heat for this request, none more deserving than I. "
"Production, um, this is Dave Rat and I am looking for...."
When it finally did show up in the hands of Roadie John, we headed down under and tossed little piles of salt on the legs and followed up with good splash of water. Ok, try it now, "mini-braaahhh"
Dave Lee smiles and says, I can live with that.
It appears to have worked but I am not fully convinced. Perhaps there were other factors. We did not do an immediate 'before and after' and an opening band and played between when we sought the salt and when we got it. Maybe the TV transmitter drops power at night, maybe the air temperature or some other seemingly unrelated factor changed or maybe the conclusion that it was the radio tower was wrong? Regardless, it works, it is better and the the next band plays.
"Dave Rat, they need you on stage." Aaargh. Way the heck over there, 15 mins till Peppers start and I can hear it already from front of house, BRAAAAAAAH! "It is not as bad as it was earlier but it is coming back." I asked Roadie George for a hand and we dragged a huge tub of water down front of the stage splashing water on the now dried salt as the water had evaporated But wait, the salt piles got bigger! Turns out roadie John had found more salt and re-piled all the legs, that was cool!
**** End Imbedded Sound Nerd Speak ****
"Hey Dave Lee, how is it now?"
"It's good again, thank you!"
**** End Issue of the Day ****
I listened to the guitar rig a few times during the show and the noise stayed low. I just wish I had the time to test it a few more times and be more sure that there were not other factors. If you are curious about the effectiveness of salt water as a conductor, here are a few links.
Thursday, June 28. 2007
Hey look! It is a big stagey thing, life is so full of coincedences! I keep finding these things all over the world.
**** Roadie Research Segment ****
Though roadies can be observed and studied like wild animals, actualy many of today's roadies are highly trained technical professionals weighted with the task of maintaining, seting up and operating complex and often fragile equipment. Often this equipment ceases to operate as it should and is in need of some sort of repair. Below we can see roadies Dark Overlord Scott's and Weak Underling Chad's troubleshooting and repair techniques, upon discovering the lighting console was malfunctioning:
**** End Roadie Research Segment ****
So enter the Wu Tang Clan! Who opened the show and arrived 10 minutes or so before they were to go on stage, which really throws some people for a loop. Perhaps because if they don't show up, there is a bit of a problem as to filling the time slot. I have toured with Wu before, when they opened for Rage Against the Machine in 1997. That tour was "eventful" to say the least and some new crazy story showed up daily. And I do like the Wu and it was cool to see them back together.
And a few pics from another day at the office.
Oh look at what time it is! It is my relative 5pm of my 9 to 5, so time to punch my time card and head on out, see ya tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 26. 2007
**** The Background of a Ponder ****
So a few days back or three, I was sitting with some friends and wine and as the night progressed I found that every word I spoke was met with disagreement from a long time friend. Everything I said was wrong, regardless of what it was. I even tried agreeing with him and that was wrong as well. Unfinished statements were wrong. I found that I was inherently wrong by default. To argue my position was uselessness as the other party had a predetermined and an unalterable perspective that I was incorrect, regardless of any facts, feelings or indications otherwise. Then the parallel's drifted in. Religious conversations where the other person bases their stance on purely believing without the need for a connection to an experienced or repeatable event. Political debates where underlying biases hinged on unalterable past experiences determine the stance taken. Nationality pride where staunch boldness and slogans of greatness are firmly planted in the fact that a person just happened to pop out of mom on one side of an imaginary border line or another. Racial variations where we are what we are so since change is not an option, we hunker down in our defensive or offensive positions. To discuss whether a religion, political party, country of race is more right or wrong than another with a passionate participant, which we all are on some level, is a precarious adventure indeed, so...
Rather than get wrapped up in the senselessness adversary, I listened and watched and thought. Then it dawned on me that perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps he is right and everything I say or am about to say is wrong, at least on some level or perspective. In that moment, right then, there was not a single thing I could say that was correct. That thought then spread like light to encompass all thoughts everywhere and always and illuminated a perspective that perhaps no one has ever been truly right nor ever will be, as someone will always have the ability to disagree.
And at that point the feeling of friction stopped and puzzlement turned to smile as I wandered of to my hotel room in all my wrongness and feeling great.
**** End - The Background of a Ponder ****
Italy feel refreshing. Mouthwatering. How can a whole country so perfectly and completely master the art of making delicious food? So off the roadies head for a stroll and a meal.
Ooooooh, looks like he got an "owie"
Everyone one was drinking these crazy looking orange drinks, so we curiosity inspired us to follow suit.
That is me on the left, you can always tell cause I am the one with the big nose. Next over is Roadie Tracy, beloved roadette, Lyssa B and Lampi Scott who's new nick name is "Dark Overlord." Our newest bus #2 roadette is Michelle who came out to play the roadie games with us again and finally Lampi Chad who seems to have acquired the nick name "Weak Underling." Am not quite sure who came up with the names but it makes for awesome radio chatter.
Over the walkee talkee's at the gig:
"Dark Overlord for Weak Underling"
"Go for Weak Underling,"
"Yes, we have a situation out here, need you immediately, copy?"
"Copy Dark Overlord, Weak Underling on the way"
Signing off for today, I leave you with a bit of graffiti I found on a wall.
Day 399 - June 26th - Serbia Show Day
So off to the gig we drove, out of the city and into the fields, miles and miles of corn fields down the road and far away
till a town we reached, near sprawling metropolis minus the sprawls and minus the metropolis
And ladies in shadows
To reach a desolate landscape in 100 degree weather.
**** Roadie Research Segment ****
And after a long bus ride
of well over an hour, roadies get hungry. Upon arrival at the musical water hole the competition is fierce between roadies foraging for food. Unfortunately the fruits of the land were neither plentiful and nor diverse as 60 roadies will need to consume massive amounts of food. While Roadie Daniel is challenged by attempting to decide between soup scrapings and bread enhanced by flying insects.
I set off searching for food in other places. Knowing where to look is an asset inherent to the wise roadie indeed as nutrition is key to the survival of the roadie herd. Often many animals forage to find tasty delights under stones and rocks, the roadie is no exception.
**** End Roadie Research Segment ****
So here we sit in a 100 degree hot far away field in the middle of what appears to be nowhere after driving miles and miles through interesting places and we have it good. Out "there" are 100 thousand or so hot, thirsty fans that have traveled miles or hundreds in over-crowded, under-conditioned busses just to wait in infinite waterless lines. The words inhospitable gruel comes to mind, I feel bad for the fans as the gig feels more like prison than paradise.
It was not people, it was the event. Perhaps learning curve, in-experience, greed, or just plain lack of the infrastructure to support an event of this scale, the brunt of it all was laid upon the fans.
I have seen it before. You could feel the tension of expectations pushed higher and higher with each hoop jumped through. And when the band left the stage, the audience was motionless. For all they had been through, they were far from ready for the show to be over and that's when some of the audience decided it was "clean up time."
"Hey, wow, it is messy around here, perhaps we should clean up?"
"Good idea, maybe there are waste bins on stage, I don't see any over here."
"I bet there is, well, it is far but I think I can make it!"
The mood of mob began to set in. Doing sound all these years, I have been amidst many riots and riot like situations and the I can equate it is to parallel with the feeling of an incoming tornado or being near where lighting is about to strike, and I have experienced both several times. There is a tension, an goose bump energy building and perhaps it snaps or maybe dissipates. On a certain level, I agreed. Crap food, long day, hot, poor facilities and gig in the middle of nowhere. Why? Shit happens I guess, I don't think anyone on the Peppers' end truly knew what we were getting into, misrepresented perhaps, I just don't know but I do know that I was surrounded by a 100,000 humans and radio calls of bottles turning to rocks so I did what any soundman would do, I cranked up the music. Louder and louder, and the outro music went on and on with happy songs as slowly the big beast calms while still focused on the stage where the music originates. Never take music away from an angry audience as the System of the Down riot that claimed the lives of some of our gear and many were hurt. All the while, mentally I was preparing for plan "B" in the event that FOH became the target, which is to dash out of the mix area and start shouting gibberish while throwing bottles at the sound board.
We travel around the world and many people work together to make these shows happen and no matter what, some people are always going to be unhappy and no matter what some people will look at the bright side and still be happy. And between those two extremes lays the mass of general opinion. If this exact performance had occurred by a lake, 10 minutes from town, with facilities and a general environment of life compatibility, the show would have awesome, smooth and all good. And if it had occurred another 60 miles out of town and 10 degrees hotter, we may have had a big mess of broken sound gear and humans to clean up afterwards. It is not the people, it is how we were treated that created the reaction.
P. S. I have been getting some requests for a higher resolution jpeg of the amsterdam flower so...
And coming soon will be some JF guitar head pics.
Monday, June 25. 2007
Day off in Serbia
**** Super Ponder 300 ****
Of course, life is just a matter of perspective. Maybe I am sitting here happily bobbing along my merry roadie way and some tragic event like loosing my sunglasses has befallen upon me three yesterday's past, of which I am yet unaware, so my world is still smiles. But now as I frantically search and realization slips in, my life slips in to chaos as the barrage emotional loss overwhelms me, I really liked those sunglasses and replacing them will involve remembering which gas station I purchased them and hoping they still have another pair after I figure out where that gas station was located in Australia. The perspective of whether this is truly a terrible event or an insignificant blip will vary from human to human. "Realization" was responsible for shifting my perspective, but the world around me remains unaffected. Expanding upon this thought-line and adding in the concept that "nothing is ever truly exact nor ever can be" sets the stage for some curious ponderings. Where exactly does land end and the sea begin with the tides and waves and all? Is this exactly a gallon of gas or perhaps a molecule less or more. I read the other day about how much gasoline expands when warm. A gallon cold gas will drive your car farther than warm gas because a gallon can be more or less than itself. Gas stations in colder areas have heaters, while hot area stations sell hot gas resulting in less gas per dollar. Temperature, motion, evaporation, deterioration, velocity and just the fact that an object exists, all play a part in the creating the impossibility of true exacting measure.
Whether we like it or not, every numeric, verbal or written description is merely an approximation that can be debated on some some level and if it can be legitimately debated, does this not make it an opinion? Does this not unravel everything we say or think into squirming mess of differing opinions and nothing we encounter or perceive being truly "true," if you look closely enough? The existence of "truth" itself is a matter of perspective and my personal set of truths evolves and varies, from every other individual's or group's set of truths. I believe it is highly probable that there is not a single truth that is truly universal. By this I am referring to the existence of a thought or concept that every single individual would unanimously agree to be "true." Proving a truth is universal by harvesting the opinions of all humans simultaneously would be quite difficult to the point of infinitely prohibitive. Conversely, proving a truth is not universal is actually quite simple, just find someone that disagrees. If you have to disqualify anyone due to age, race, religion, gender or even your opinion of their sanity level, then poof, not universal. In a world where humans strap bombs to themselves and run into crowded places, it does not take a rocket scientist to envision that finding humans who will disagree with every possible thought are most likely running around somewhere. In fact, now that I ponder it, there are more things humans universally disagree on than agree. Hmmm I wonder if there is such thing as a universal falsity? Naw, that couldn't work because that would in turn create the universal truth of us all agreeing on the universal falsity.
So where does that leave us if we were to accept that everything we think and believe is wrong in someone else's perspective and therefore not definitively true? Well, if the logic so far is accepted then here are a few possible conclusions. We are either:
A) All individually always wrong on some level in everything we do so we can not possibly ever do anything "right" or
B) We need to chop some humans out of the equation and relegate them to being irrelevant so we can establish a tangible foundation of "rightness" by which to judge all of those that are wrong and then tout how we live our lives correctly or
C) We could accept the perplexing concept that something can be simultaneous right and wrong at the same time.
"A" appears not to be a very useful perspective, as being wrong all the time about everything makes progress and decision making a bit tough, plus it is counter intuitive because there are many worldly things that can be repetitively demonstrated to have a high degree of rightness.
"B" involves cutting a bunch humans out of the mix and while it is a tempting and commonly implemented angle, it has a bit of a downside in that surprisingly, the humans that get relegated to irrelevance seem to exhibit a strong lack of enthusiasm at there position of being forever wrong that was created by others that have self-elevated themselves to a level rightness. Compound that with the likelihood that the "wrongies" carry the perspective that they are actually the ones that are right and you now have a recipe for a world locked in turmoil and fighting between various entities that feel justified in their actions, kind of like we have now.
Finally, who would be so silly as to embrace the absurd concept "C" that something can be both right and wrong at the same time? As demonstrated below:
Alfred the Right: "Wow, I want to tell you all, the fact is that today is really really hot!"
Far away little voice named Eric in the back with a Monty Python English accent: "No, it's not"
Red face evident Alfred "Excuse me, today is the hottest day on record, today is incredibly hot!"
Same Eric: "Today is not hot compared to molten lava, molten lava is incredibly hot"
Fortifying his position Alfred "Your an idiot"
Big eyed Eric "No, I'm not"
And on and on till the end of the world, The End.
Though this may seem on the surface trivial or absurd, pondering it a bit more deeply you may find that all alleged "facts" as we know them can be dismantled and every unresolved argument has little to do with the subject discussed but rather the differing perspectives the arguers have chosen. Since no perspective can be truly proved right or wrong, to discuss anything with a goal of gaining ground, a common perspective must first be agreed upon or naturally taken by the participants. Perhaps it is true that all perspectives are correct and nothing is truly wrong, yet life does suggest that some perspectives and beliefs are more useful, enjoyable, harmonious and life-compatible than others. Denying the effects of gravity may not be a very useful perspective and attempting to validate it by stepping out of a hot air balloon or attempting to walk on water may have less than a convenient outcome.
The concept that everyone, no mater how right they are, is automatically always wrong on some level, I think is really interesting. This duality of being right and wrong simultaneously sets the stage for humans to both accept religion and science even though they each prove the other wrong. More importantly it also creates the potential for everyone to accept each other's differing points of view while holding their own and the concepts of "right" and "wrong" themselves become relegated to irrelevance. Leaving us to enjoy navigating the discussions over which concepts are more useful by which to lead our lives, which ideas are repeatable, which patterns we can depend and what things we decide to do anyway because we enjoy the sensation regardless that it defies logic or explanation.
And me? I guess I am a "Useful-ist" so I shovel all the crap that must be believed because it was spoken or written and has no corroborating life-sensical reality into the mind-closet of possibilities that I do not live my life by unless a real world credibility event earns them a home in my inner perspective-structure.
Anyway, I just want to say, hey look, I have a whole bunch of money, I am rich!
"No your not rich! that is only like $200 US, you could not even buy a quarter of a plane ticket home with that"
"Well, shut up stupid head, I feel rich anyway and I don't care what you say, and besides $200 US goes a long way here and as best I can tell it is one of the few places left where the US dollar is not working it's way to worthless due to Shit-Neck-the-Incompetent running the White House"
"Hey, he is a good president, he is fighting for what he believes is right."
On a cheerier note, hey Scott wait up, let me grab a quick photo of you right over there.
And it was a hot day and nice for a wander about in Belgrade
Cool old-school carts, as Lampi Scott would say, "those are the real deal!"
"No they're not!" -- Just kidding. The Serbian's still rock the public water fountain in a big way!
Yumm, Iced Coffee! "Actually it is more like a coffee sunday"
Cool shoes, must be some sort of regional historic shoe as we saw them all over except on feet.
So I guess that's it for today or not, depending on how you look at it, oh well, who really knows anything anyway.
Yumm, the self indulgence of wanting something and having it come to you is a wonderful sensation. Such is the case with many things and one of those things is room service. Oh the anticipation, what delicious delectable's will appear on the push cart covered in metal caps.
With expectations nearly as high as the prices, surely a feast fit for a king will soon arrive as of course I am the king of this rent-a-room for at least another 4 hours. The unveiling occurs, stunned my heart skips a beat, behold upon thine eyes the magnificence.
Where to start and how to proceed races through my mind as I find myself devouring the radish chip. How could they have known that I love fancy cut radishes on slightly soggy chips and poached egg balls on micro toasts?
Today we play Amsterdam, or more accurately Nijmegen (pronounced nigh-megen) and I was slated for an hour plus van ride into the gig but there has been a change of plans and the vans won't be coming. With the 'main show' crew already onsite and myself doing a bit of straying from the roadie herd into the band camp, it looks like we will be taking an alternate form of transport over the traffic jam.
I love adventures and have been in these things several times but they never cease to feel like they are about to fall out of the air. Noisy and a bit of motion sickness but view was wonderful. Next stop, rock.
And there she blows, full double hung V-Dosc rig plus side hangs totaling 90 of the big boxes pushing sound from the main stage. Plus loads of subs!
And a few our friends that came to listen
Some people get a better view of the show than others and if you look in the lower left of the picture above the picture above, it looks like our pal in the hat is going to get the short end of the stick. But not for long as mini super hero Scott the Lampi points out the predicament and rally's the FOH'ers to grab a few road cases and some plywood for a fix.
Then, a few days after the gig, our friend in the hat sends Scotty an email, I guess he does some video work and is known as the Rolling Dutchman.
If you have looked at a lot of show photos, you may notice something a bit different in the shot below.
For some of the shows on this tour we have added full motion video screen in front of the sound system. These "soft," flexible and fairly transparent video screens do effect the sound a bit but the cool look factor is huge.
Night night, good morning! Wake up time and fly to Belgrade, Serbia. I admit I expected some surprises entering a land I have never been to
But it did catch me a bit off guard to find out that they do not allow dogs to smoke cigarettes when cats are nearby.
Next episode, lets take a look around.
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