Tuesday, June 13. 2006
Monday, June 12. 2006
Tonight weÂ will ride the busÂ overnight to a day off in Prague.
It got a bit hectic during load out for me. The word came through that a hard drive with the Lyon, France show needs to ship to Los Angeles, ASAP! First I capture the Pro Tools rig before it is buried in the truck. I set it aside and go seek out a Euro to US power transformer only to find the Pro Tools rig hijacked towards the truck. I set down the heavy transformer, chase down the PT rig, come back and oh no, the transformer is gone. Argh. Mark gave me a hand, we located the transformer, an outlet, set up the PT rig and sat there for 25 minutes while the show copied onto another drive, packed it all up and got it onto a truck without screwing things up too much.
Found a tower near the hotel with a pretty bird on top
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
Subwoofers and Sub Cannons
I have settled on three variations on a basic sub layout. The goal it to achieve adequate side coverage in arenas out to 135 degrees off of center. In order to achieve this in the limited space available while also present a functional layout, I am implementing a 'shotgun' configuration utilizing time delayed, spaced sub blocks that also double as stage wings. The stage is 5.5 feet high and the stacked subs are 5 feet, so with two 4 foot by 8 foot risers strapped to the side subs, the subs effectively add stable stage width.
Configuration "Narrow" has what we call the "sub canons" facing forward and they are delayed to form a cardiod pattern that then combines with the front line subs.
Configuration "Wide" rotates the cardiod cannons 90 degrees to face the sides of the venue increasing the potential output to the sides.
Configuration "Medium" has the canons facing forward like Narrow with the difference being that the outside subs are delayed 4 feet. The distance of the delay is based on the acoustic centers of the enclosure to the next forward facing row in. This creates a moderate increase in side level over the Narrow setup.
By altering the levels of the various sub clusters, we are able to optimize the low frequency coverage to the venue. All this looks good on paper but the reality is that sub woofer coverage inside complex enclosed venues is only partially predictable. The reality is that we gain more control than a conventional setup it is far from a perfect science and wandering and listening and adjusting is the only way to dial it in. It is still a work in progress but so far we have exceeded the coverage consistency that I have seen other large scale tours achieve.
6am and a blinding light mixed with a loud gritty scraping sound drags me awake. My window shades are pulled tight shut but the sunlight is relentless and unstoppable by practically clear window fabric provided. Had to open the window in the middle of the night to get some air, as my room was overheating. Sleeping was tough with the struggling sound of the air conditioner fighting a losing battle. I have a strong feeling that I am supposed to do something and have forgotten and that awful scraping noise is beer bottle filled trash cans following a human around, connected by his arm.
And magically, the mysterious call sheet has once again materialized near the door. 6:30am is the early call. I am going to do the 12 o-clock. 2pm is last call. By this time in the tour everyone knows which of the call times is theirs so the names of my fellow roadies no longer appear on the list.
My USB Wi-Fi adaptor has decided to travel separately from me. Maybe he joined my toiletry bag that decided to hang out in Barcelona and my blue tooth earpiece charger that jumped ship in some unknown location, come to think of it, I have not seen my Euro phone in a while either. The bright side, well at least my bag is a little lighter. Constantly dwindling possessions, I really don't sweat it unless it's a passport, cell phone or wallet.
**** Highlight of the Day - The Pods have found new homes! ****
Their new location seems to be an acceptable compromise. Hurray!
Big oval ring of a room. Hmmmmm, curved walls and circular usually means 'not good. Turns out the gig is just out the back door of the hotel after traversing a Spinal Tap maze of hallways. There are pieces of paper with arrows marked "RHCP Crew" pointing the way.
My Birthday! Aha, I knew there was something going on I was supposed to remember. Happy Birthday to me! Forty Four. I suddenly remember that have always wanted to celebrate my birthday in Dortmund, Germany.
Wow, today is mix in underwear day! The rule is: "If Scott or I receive undergarments for a gift at a gig, we must mix the show in said undergarments." I was very fortunate to be around when Scott received 3 pair of underwear, with matching vests, from the main man of the company that makes the Grand MA lighting board.
You can see my excitement
Nick the Fly was quite upset that there was not a forth pair for him. I offered to give share mine with him and swap mid show so he would feel better but he declined. He clearly has made a substantial self sacrifice.
Scott, MA, myself and Leif ready to rock!
And the for a look at the show:
**** Highlight of the Day - The band announces my birthday and thanks me for doing sound for them ****
Big smile and filled with a feeling of being appreciated. Thank you AK, JF, F and C for being wonderful friends and trusting me to bring the music you are so deeply passionate about to the people.
**** Issue of the Day - Scott calls the follow spots on me ****
and there I stood there in my underwear lit like daylight in front of 18,000 people, (I had taken off the sporty vest) while the arena crowd cheered. Actually, that was a highlight as well!
Sunday, June 11. 2006
11:30am Overnight drive lands us in a parking lot of some unknown location, at least by us passenger humans. Turns out that our hotel is in the sports complex right next to a World Cup Football match (soccer to sepo's). Hmmm, the most important string of games for the most popular team sport on the planet earth. It's Sweden vs Trinidad and Tobago and the game is tonight. I heard something about 12 o-clock and streets blocked off. I guess we sent some sort of recognizance mission to check things out before driving the tour buses into a quagmire.
A 10 minute drive and a several block hike later, I was quite fortunate to capture some rare shots of roadies in their natural migration pattern from tour bus to hotel.
Roadies have been know to carry their nesting supplies for 10's and 10's of feet without complaining. Obviously in the situation below clearly shows that the maximum distance has been exceeded.
I like my current travel setup. Critical to package your world well. I use the 'push, pull and pack' setup that seems to be evolving as the preferred traveling human setup for those that have been around a while in the rock world. That is where you have a big bag with handles and wheel to pull, a smaller mid-sized bag that has a handle and wheels that you push (it is highly recommended that the mid-sized bag is carry-on-able for flights) and a third back pack bag that has your criticals. Criticals are passport, laptop, camera, toiletry bag, MP3 player, small hotel room speakers, maybe a spare shirt in case mustard attacks you in the airport, cell charger etc. It is quite an efficient system, allows you to walk for long distances with minimal stress and is typically good for 2 weeks of road life before laundry sets in. High visibility bags are a big plus for finding them both when they actually come to the same city with you on the plane and for describing them to the airport human when the bags decide to vacation on their own elsewhere, and you make the effort to get them back.
Two less successful bag setups I have tried in the past are:
The single-super-sized-28-day-no-laundry-washing-hockey-bag. Excellent for clothing supply, terrible to haul around (no wheels = bad) and the auto explode feature in every hotel room instantly merges clean and dirty clothes into one massive wad of mystery history. Carry bags that do not require a full unpack to find things!
The Super Light. Excellent for a few days but it gets really old, really fast, wearing the same shirt every 5 days and having to do laundry twice a week. I like to have a solid 2 weeks with me which means; pack for 18 days to account for doubles.
1pm - So, back to the Swedish. They are everywhere. Viking horns, face paint and a sea of yellow shirts and if I am not mistaken, they seem to have a strong affinity for drinking beer and having loud noises come out of the mouth part of the head.
These specimens were spotted quite a distance from the rest of the herd. Clearly they are taking advantage of a local watering hole.
Well, at least a lot them are staying in the same hotel that we are so we will not get lonely. Plus my room is 3 feet from the elevator so should never be far from my Swedish friends having a good time. This is gonna be fun! Too bad it's such a warm sunny day or actually would be grumpy about the inconveniences but actually I enjoy the unexpected, heading out for a walking adventure.
**** Highlight of the Day - Walking Dortmund and Iced coffee with friends ****
As simple as it is, just walking and wandering new places makes me happy and relaxed. Nothing like a good wander.
2 am - Eyes burn. I have over-computed. Hundreds of yellow stumbling drunk Sweeds (whom are no longer my friends) are finally dwindling into a sporadic horn blow and an occasional slurry yelp. Not the sound of a winning celebration below.
**** Issue of the Day - Less than optimum elevator location ****
They really put the elevator in a bad spot, I will try and recommend they move it farther from my room next time I stay here.
Saturday, June 10. 2006
Had some more stuff to do in the morning than expected so I was not able to make the trip to L'Acoustics. Lee had to track a Fedex from Rat so it left Nick the Fly to represent. Heard it went well and Nick got some solo time with the main man, we are getting wonderful support from the company, new info, new software and all kinds of cool things came from it.
I had a little bit of time before show call and stopped by a French market with Scott on the way to the gig and bought a some gifts. Salt from all over the world, olive oil and balsamic vinegar mainly, should be simple and enjoyable gifts.
We had some time with the gear in the afternoon as we are doing 2 days in the same venue. Hung out with the monitor humans and dialed in the drum fill and sorted more gremlins. Chad uses two Rat Trap 5 (dual 15", dual 10", 2") cabs in stereo plus a dual 15" sub. With the drum fill off, I get decent tones but it sounds best when the drum fill is loud, stable and not gated. Chad is on in-ears but having the sonic power behind him plus the seat thumper really brings it all together. Plus, as I mentioned, I rely on the drum fill sound to get the drum sound out front.
Another thing I find interesting truly how directional a Marshal guitar cab really is. Just a 5 degree shift in the angle of the cab away from a vocal mic can make a significant difference on bright tones. For Peppers, if you look at the guitar and bass rigs you can see the angles we use that keep a solid sound for the musician while minimizing bleed into the vox mics. I will put a pic up soon.
Yesterday, during the show a fan was holding up a sign that said "John, can I play your guitar" and then John's guitar stopped working. In a moment of frustration, John lashed out at the kid and told him to put away the dumb sign." Kind of felt bad for the kid but also the sign was blocking a ton of people's view so I didn't miss it gone. Well today, John says "Is the kid who had the sign up yesterday about playing my guitar here? Hey, I am sorry for yelling at you and if you are here, come find Dave Lee, my guitar tech, and you can come backstage and play my guitar."
I know John well enough to know that he really takes it to heart if he feels he has hurt someone's feelings. Hearing his heartfelt and pure apology made me smile and really appreciate being part of the organization.
**** Issue of the Day - Vocorder Drift ****
For the song "By the Way" there is a vocorder vocal part where AK (Anthony) sings and the drum tech hits notes on a keyboard that alter AK's voice to the sound you hear at the live show. At the same time, I bring up the vocorder channel and then back out for each "WAAA-WAAA" and then again for the "Wowowowowow" part.
Well, as is often the case, the keyboard that makes the correct sound is an older, unstable analog thing. We have been having issues with the sound checking fine but then being different during the show. Today, somehow a tremolo sound has decided to party its way into the mix. I think it is just drifting as it gets hot, tomorrow we will try turning it off until right before show time.
**** Highlight of the Day - That the vocorder drift was the only issue****
The band played an awesome set, looked like they had fun and the crowds have been great everyday.
Here is a picture of how my mix position looks during the show:
You may be able to notice, if you look very closely, that I have boycotted all forms of illumination. No lighting for me while I mix and memorized the locations of all controls on the consoles. Been mixing in the dark for over a decade, hence the lack of need to label my console input channels as you may have noticed on some previous pics. The reason behind it is to sharpen my hearing and reduce visual distractions, plus it looks cool. Turn off all the lights and you start hearing things you did not hear before. I find that having a big thing with knobs lit up in front of me draws my focus to it and knobs all sit there saying "turn me, no me!" I would much rather watch the band and listen to the music. Memorizing a console, is fairly easy.
Still have not figured out how to run a digital board in the dark as most of them are a bit rough to operate with the screen turned off. Also, I really like to have metering of everything that is going on, visible at all times. I want to see every compressor, every gate, every input, output, matrix, all of it. In fact, during the show, that is all I want to see, "what is everything doing, right now?" No button pushes, no menu scrolling. Oh, and I want it logically grouped. All my gates in one area, all my comps in another, all my effects in a another and not a splattering of intermixed meters.
Below you can see the console labeling of the subgroups. Since it is a a new thing doing the dual PA and just in case I forgot what does which, I can easily glance down and then still wonder what does which.
Friday, June 9. 2006
Bercy (pronounced - Bear-See) is the venue in Paris with grass on the sides, been here many times.
And blammo! The moment I walk in , there it is!
**** Issue of the Day - The Pods ****
Hmmm, I wonder what is wrong with this picture? Lets see, Pods move up and down, Pods have plastic sheet around them, Pods infront of PA.
I instantly PIN'ed Grier, he informs me that I should stop crying. And after getting him all riled up, we laugh and he agrees to gonna keep them flown out and we worked on a more permanant solution for the next gig load in. OK, issue gone, all good.
Bercy inside is a big and kind of cool room
Today we are in the home town of L'Acoustics (makers of the V-Dosc speakers I use for the main PA). A couple of V-Humans came down. Arranged to head out to L'Acoustics with Nick and Lee in the AM. They are quite interested in the PA config we have out with us. I was hoping I would get factory support on the setup. L'Acoustics is very adamant about V-Dosc companies maintaining a high level of consistency. They also don't like companies setting up the rigs in less than optimum arrangements. Turns out the official response was "We have been waiting for someone to do what you are doing!" Awesome!
They also did some subwoofer modeling on the "sub canon' setup I came up with. I promise I will get into the layout soon for those of you interested.
The show went well but I mixed a louder that I was happy with. Once I got up there in volume I had a hard time coming back down without losing show momentum. Note to self - start a bit lower so I have somewhere to go.
Wednesday, June 7. 2006
I wore my last clean pair of socks and t-shirt yesterday, either need to do laundry or buy new clothes. Grier, Scott and I run into Joni (dressing room assist to Lyssa) at the laundromat. It can be a bit of an adventure to do laundry on tour and usually I just drop it off with production and they send it to a fluff and fold on a gig day. It comes back either all good or some form of bad. There have been a few times where whomever did the laundry mixed all the crew clothes together and we end up sorting through a big pile to find our stuff. Other times it comes back 1/2 wet, pink or just does not come back at all. But I still usually take the risk.
Today though, is nice out and hanging with some friends for coffee and a wash will be a relaxing adventure.
PIN messages come through, John Fruciante (guitar player, JF from now on) and Chad want some show tapes, most likely to pull European B sides from. Will line that up tomorrow. The process is that I supply them rough mixes, they pick songs and then Nick the Fly and I will copy over the Pro Tools recordings of those shows to a hard drive and give it to production to ship it back to LA for mixing by Andrew.
Back in Barcelona I could not help but buy the ultimate soundman shoes
And up to about $20 US a day I am fine with buying highspeed internet, at $23 Euro ($30 US a day) I felt the desire to rebel. I was able to construct an antenna from a gold foil coated lamp shade and my USB wi-fi unit. I found the focal point and scanned around till I found an open network and blammo! Free internet!
Have not talked to Chris but through the grapevine (Dave Lee) I hear that he is in good spirits, though it will be a while befeore we get him back with us. I was very happy to hear that the band is totally taking care of him, covering all medical and keeping him on salary. It reminds me of why I am here and how truly wonderful the people I am with are. Please teleport positive thoughts and energy in Chris' direction.
Tuesday, June 6. 2006
Overnight drive to Lyon France. All of us in the core crew meet back up with the full production and rest of the crew today, Hurray! Home sweet far away home.
Looking backward from FOH
and looking forward
and looking at my front of house console from the perspective of a squirrel standing on the arm rest
**** Sound Nerd Speak ****
1:15am, The show went great! So damn nice to my rig back and the dual clusters. Vocals are clear and no longer have to worry about the other instrument cramping them out. We rotated what we call the "Sub Canons" 90 degrees. Still refining the low end, not that we lack it, just that I really want smooth coverage and deep lows off to the sides of the arenas. It seems that a surprisingly large number of tours just disregard adequate side wrap low end. I am out to solve that issue.
**** End Sound Nerd Speak ****
**** Issue of the Day - Finding Mix Position ****
There was no good way to get to mix area once the audience was in. Furthermore, lights were on a lower than normal riser and the darn thing was un-findable I got lost wedging aimlessly through sweaty humans three times. I always set up my sound control world on the floor whenever possible. I figure that there is no logical reason that I would need to hear sound that is totally above the audience. Seeing the band, well, it's overrated in my opinion and a bit distracting if you can see too well.
Overnight to Paris for a badly needed day off. Super tired so I played X-Box with Scott till 4:30am. Slept well. Ah, finally the level of exhaustion where sleep is deep and easy.
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