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General Courtesy of dedicated band sound engineer
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

General Courtesy of dedicated band sound engineer

Hello, I have a question that doesn't have so much to do with tech than it does with the role of a band's sound guy. I am employed by a quickly growing rock and roll band to do sound for them at locations where there is no PA, and doing photography and videography at gigs like bigger bars where they do have a PA system and a dedicated FOH sound guy. The band has made the decision that they want me to do sound at all of their gigs, even ones at venues with dedicated sound guys because I know the band's sound more and they like the way I run and mix audio for them. My question is what is the common etiquette to basically ask the sound guy to let me run sound for the gig? Should I just come ahead of time to get acquainted with their system, or should I come early and bring my own mixer and just give my main outs to be sent to the PA system? I know we obviously don't like other people touching our equipment, but shouldn't it be to the discretion of the band for who does their sound? Any answers or suggestions would be appreciated!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
Lives for gear
 

The first step would be to talk to the venue well in advance and work out what you'll do. This sort of discussion is precisely why riders exist and are used; it's so both the performers and the venue understand what each is expected to bring and do. If for some reason you can't come to a mutually acceptable agreement, that's a very good reason to not perform at that place.

My preference in your shoes would be to always use my (your) own mixer, assuming of course it's adequate for the needs, and send a FOH feed where the venue has a decent system. It's always easier to work with equipment you're familiar with and that you know is set up how you want and expect it. Trying to figure out a different system under pressure is trickier, and all the more so when you suddenly find that subgroup 3 is broken or learn that the knucklehead who set it up connected the subwoofer to the control room monitor outputs or whatever. Bringing your own mixer to connect to the house sound system is a common arrangement in professional and semi-professional work, so most venues oughtn't have any trouble accommodating that.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Yep, always reach out in advance to notify them that you'll be running FOH and ideally you want to connect with the house engineer that will be on-duty that night so you can discuss specifics (mics, mixers, monitors, splits, load-in, etc.) well beforehand. Be friendly, welcome their help and any tips they have about the board/venue/etc. Developing a good rapport beforehand goes a long way to making sure the night goes smoothly and everyone is happy working together.

If the band has a standard advance (they really should), make sure you and your requirements, specs, and questions for the venue are all a part of the advance from the get go. Saves a lot of time when it's all in writing up-front. Even so, it's a good idea to contact the house engineer for a quick call to introduce yourself, go over the advance, and make sure you are on the same page. They will likely have questions for you as well. If you are using their board and don't have any experience with it, read up on it ahead of time. Watch videos. Get familiar with navigating the basic functions and routing. Or, as DrewE suggested, bring your own. Can't hurt to be familiar with theirs though for a variety of reasons.

Day of, show up at the agreed upon load-in time (earlier and they might not be there yet or give you access to the system). If you want to get to the venue earlier than usual to get familiar, make sure you agreed on that beforehand (remember the advance info and the call with the house engineer?). Give yourself plenty of time to learn the room and soundcheck.

After you've done it a few times, you'll know all the questions to ask and what surprises to look out for, and it really won't take much time at all to enter a new room, assess the system, and get cracking.

Usually, the house engineer will be on premise and should be willing to walk you through the venue's system and be there to help troubleshoot if anything goes wrong. They may also be there to make sure you don't blow any speakers. Don't worry, it's their job to protect the system and make sure you don't break anything.

Every once in a while you'll get a guy or gal who is difficult to work with, resents you being there, or generally has no idea what they are doing. Kill 'em with kindness. Be respectful and professional and keep your cool. If they are clueless but mean well, talk them through what you're doing and let them ask questions. This may be their first week doing live sound. You never know. If they are making your life impossible, speak with the venue manager (sometimes the owner). It's likely if someone is being an asshole when you've been nothing but professional, reasonable, and courteous, that the problem is them, not you, and the venue staff will be used to it. If you do a good job, and prove that you AREN'T an asshole like the other guy, they might even invite you back.

To summarize, get ahead of it with a thorough advance and preparation, and grease the social wheels by being friendly and communicating well. You, the band, the venue, and the house engineer should all be on the same team, putting on a great show, and you can do a lot to foster that environment.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
And some words of caution...Don't be a d!ck when you are running sound in someone else's venue. It is the surest way to get yourself in trouble. Always be the consummate professional audio person. I use to be a concert sound liaison for the local college in my job as the Director of Audio Services. I was in charge of overseeing the visiting band's sound needs and looking at and approving their tech riders. The bands we had the least amount of trouble with were the "English" bands as they were always gentlemen when it came to working with us. The punk rockers and "Jonnie come lately" band engineers were always a problem because they would try and throw their "weight" around by demanding things that were not in the tech rider or refusing to perform if their "demands" were not met. In a couple of instance I got into a physical confrontation with these engineers and had to go to my boss who would come to the venue and basically tell the band members "your management approved this tech-rider" which he would bring along with him. He would then tell them "either you play the concert following the terms of the tech rider or you will not get paid". Most times cooler heads prevailed and the concert would go on as scheduled.

Just some words of advice. "Be a professional"
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kurama3114 View Post
(...) My question is what is the common etiquette to basically ask the sound guy to let me run sound for the gig? Should I just come ahead of time to get acquainted with their system, or should I come early and bring my own mixer and just give my main outs to be sent to the PA system? I know we obviously don't like other people touching our equipment, but shouldn't it be to the discretion of the band for who does their sound? Any answers or suggestions would be appreciated!
depends on your level of skills but basically, if you're the band's sound tech, that's it! you advance the gigs, you get in touch with the local crew, you bring along additional gear in case the venue is lacking something, you make sure the stage is ready by the time the band arrives, you negotiate the schedule with the promotor, you get the security instructions and house rules, you set up a table for the merchandising, you talk to the lightie etc.

either you can deal with the inhouse desk (whatever that is...) or you cannot: in the latter case, you need to either figure out with the venue about costs for having someone babysit you or you bring along your own desk, snake, subsnake, stagebox etc.

pls note that some venues might refuse to let inexperienced techs run the soundcheck: staying on time, especially with several acts/at festivals is paramount! and i'm sure you understand that a local crew doesn't necessarily want to listen to soundcheck on end every other day only because the tour tech doesn't get the house desk! - there is a lot to be leaned just from watching experienced techs and occasionally ask questions; once things are up and running, many will be happy to let you take command for the show then.

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 1 week ago at 05:01 PM.. Reason: typo
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