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Playing Live with PreRecorded Tracks Audio Interfaces
Old 20th May 2006
  #31
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We use a Yamaha MD4 during liveshows of our coverband.

A stereo track for all kind of additional synth and some guitar stuff. One track for backing vocals and one clicktrack that only I hear.

Works great and if you a 5-man Top100 type of coverband it's a necessity IMHO.

Greetings,
Dirk
Old 20th May 2006
  #32
DHD
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I think it's cheating to mime. I think it spoils the show if the backing pulls the attention of the viewer from the bands performance. I don't have a problem having electronica, synth pads and the like being either tiggered or played from a backing track. I don;t feel the need to get a keyboardist in for such small tasks.

I never thought of having doubled vocals in choruses and such! Just didn't occur to me!

It does occur that if you are performing originals then not every song will need a back track.

Also the drummer doesn't have to play to a metronome click either. maybe a percussion track or a shaker played by the drummer will do it.

When I'm writing at home and doing some programming then I sometimes create a tempo map that will speed up a bit into the chorus and things like that. So this would allow the songs that need it in a live situation to do that and the ones that don't just to sit pretty at a given tempo. How many drummer have you worked with who speed up into every chorus! they just have to do it!

I think there are different types of music out there that should go down the backing route and others that don't need it.

Peace,
DHD
Old 20th May 2006
  #33
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Well, I had a really long post almost finished, but then there was a power outtage...so, I'll sum it up:

If I ever notice a band I go to see playing along with backup tracks, I'm walking out.

It's just lame. LAME.

I pay to see a BAND, not a CD player. I want to witness the players' emotions and all their gloriously perfect imperfections. I don't want to see a band sitting back in headphones playing along to some soulless machine.

I don't care if there aren't three part harmonies on every chorus. If you can't do harmonies without a CD player, then maybe you should hire some players who can sing? If you don't like how your band sounds without playing along to a minidisc, maybe you should change your arrangements for the gig? I'm not showing up to a show expecting there to be strings in the mix...I know the band didn't play them on the album, so why should I expect them to be in the mix live??

It's no different than professional atheletes taking steroids. Hey, they hit more home runs, right? It makes for a more exciting game! fuuck

I apologize for my bluntness, and I mean no disrespect at all; this is just an issue that I personally feel very strongly about. If you use them, that's fine. I respect your decision. It takes talent to pull it off. But don't expect me to stick around at your show, or ever pay to see you live again.

The key word here is "LIVE."
Old 20th May 2006
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis
Well, I had a really long post almost finished, but then there was a power outtage...so, I'll sum it up:

If I ever notice a band I go to see playing along with backup tracks, I'm walking out.

It's just lame. LAME.

I pay to see a BAND, not a CD player. I want to witness the players' emotions and all their gloriously perfect imperfections. I don't want to see a band sitting back in headphones playing along to some soulless machine.

I don't care if there aren't three part harmonies on every chorus. If you can't do harmonies without a CD player, then maybe you should hire some players who can sing? If you don't like how your band sounds without playing along to a minidisc, maybe you should change your arrangements for the gig? I'm not showing up to a show expecting there to be strings in the mix...I know the band didn't play them on the album, so why should I expect them to be in the mix live??

It's no different than professional atheletes taking steroids. Hey, they hit more home runs, right? It makes for a more exciting game! fuuck

I apologize for my bluntness, and I mean no disrespect at all; this is just an issue that I personally feel very strongly about. If you use them, that's fine. I respect your decision. It takes talent to pull it off. But don't expect me to stick around at your show, or ever pay to see you live again.

The key word here is "LIVE."
So I presume you wouldn't have gone to see ther Who in their prime play along with a sequencer for the Who's Next tracks?heh

It strikes me that the issue is more complex and not simply black and white. There are lots of ways to make music and some can involve the judicious use of electronic accompaniment. I too like to see a band stretch out live and not simply recreate their recorded work note for note. There are certainly ways to do this with prerecorded tracks that integrate them into the show. I haven't seen them, but I expect the Flaming Lips probably do a pretty good job of that. On the other hand, there are bands I probably wouldn't go see live because their show is essentially a note for note recreation of their recordings and they don't use backing tracks.

If I am going somewhere with a cover band, it seems less of an issue as my expectations are different. In that case, I'm not necessarily expecting virtuosity and improvisation around an original song. If they want to use backing tracks to create the illusion, fine. If they add their own arrangement and can stretch out within that structure, even better. If it makes them financially feasible (you can't rent backing singers and horns for every bar gig) that no doubt helps too.

I personally don't think you can define musical performace in terms of:

Backing tracks = bad
No backing tracks = good

Old 20th May 2006
  #35
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You're right, it isn't black and white.

I'm a big fan of both Mr. Bungle and The Flaming Lips. But I'd hate to sit thru a show where they're playing along to click tracks. Sorry, that's just me.

Roger Waters is probably my favorite solo artist. I saw him live, and he synches up a buncha samples. It's all atmospheric, tho, talking, crowd noise, that kinda thing. The last Bad Religion show I went to, they started the show with a looped drum beat that they all slipped into as an intro and then faded out. But that was it.

Have we forgotton what performing is all about? Just getting on stage and pouring your heart and soul out? Hey, if you feel "freer" playing a gig as a slave to a robot, then by all means, do it! But I sure as hell don't. That's not what performance is to me. I spend most of my life in servitude. I do my best to make bands sound great, and to boulster their careers. I provide for my family and support my friends. But when I get on stage with my guitar, I'm playing FOR ME. If someone in the audience is mad because it doesn't "sound like the album," or "sound right to them," then they can go home and suck eggs. I could care less. A&R included. If I can't perform a good enough show for them without playing along to a CD, then I don't deserve a record deal.

Again, let me reiiterate that this is just me. I mean absolutely no disrespect to any opposing view. Performing and going out to see shows is all about personal satisfaction. If playing along with/hearing backup tracks does it for you, then that's what does it for you, and it's a beautiful thing.
Old 20th May 2006
  #36
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with all the time you might spend practicing to prerecorded guitar/bass/backup vocal tracks...why not just learn how to play your songs properly in a live situation? boggles my mind. this whole topic makes me sick. everyone here needs to get some fugazi tapes.
Old 20th May 2006
  #37
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>> why not just learn how to play your songs properly in a live situation?

There might not be enough musicians on stage to play / sing all the parts.

-synthoid
Old 20th May 2006
  #38
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I think it is valid, to a degree- I mean NIN couldn't play live without them due to the density of the material.

Is it any more musically valid to have a keyboard player sit there and trigger lots of stuff live? Not really, and for some bands with floating membership it is more economical to do it rather than pay one more member.

I've been in bands where we use sequences and samples- I'm a big fan of it, as long as we use a keyboard player who can react dynamically to the band.
Hate playing to CD's or DAT's.
Old 20th May 2006
  #39
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No one yet has responded to my question I posed twice regarding the difference between this and overdubbing in the studio. Why do some consider one cheating and the other not?

I'm a jazz musician. Jazz is built on the live performance model. For the last year or so I've been toying with the idea of using Ableton Live to augment some more convoluted tunes that would be impossible to play without adding a compliment of musicians we can't afford. Jazz doesn't pay well so groups tend to be smaller rather than bigger.

I haven't worked the bugs out and I don't know whether it'll be something that I really want to pursue or not, but I don't think it lessens the bands performance. Nobody is "lipsyncing" or miming. Nobody is pretending to play a part they're not playing. No one is trying to fool the audience. We have sections where we can stretch and we can repeat or go back to other sections. Theorectically it can follow your tempo, but I haven't really gone down that road yet.

It's not easy btw.

Most Ableton Live users seem to be DJs or electronic composers. Probably the smallest demographic seems to be guys using them to augment a bands performance, like I thought it was originally designed for. I'd be interested to know others who do this with "Live" or not. I've actually ony done one gig and the verdict is not yet in . . .
Old 20th May 2006
  #40
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henry is making a good point, and i enjoyed sqye's post as well.

i am a live engineer, and lots of larger touring acts come through my venue. quite a few augment their live performance with additional bgv and other material like string parts and so forth. nobody is miming anything or any stupid **** like that. nobody is using cd players. the stuff they are playing and singing is live. it's just a matter or adding a little to fill out the sound. i'm not sure i think it's "cheating", and i don't share the righteous indignation found otherwise on this thread.

all i know is i see it regularly from bands you've heard of (from avril lavigne to david bowie) and while i don't want to have a band "fake it" or whatever, these folks do really play and sing and all of that other stuff live with a little extra sound filling it out.

fwiw, i mostly see it with computer being left onstage or just off to the side. i've seen DP, little mbox systems, you name it. so it's pretty much all from hd now. i've seen some radar systems come in, but for tracking - not augmented playback.
Old 20th May 2006
  #41
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The other thing is when touring, you've got to keep it simple.

Having an additional set of musicians and instruments to avoid the backing tape is going to be expensive and also particularly at festivals where you get a 20min change over damn near impossible ( unless you're in a position to make demands ).

Backing tracks have their place.

I worked with a band that used them and after mixing the tracks in the studio I'd have to do the backing track mix. That is quite a skill in itself and you need have a lot of foresight to get this right.
None of the band members mimed. It was them playing augmented by the backing track.
The sound of the band was based around this whole concept and I really believe that neither they nor their audience would have enjoyed the songs live without the backing track.

For this band I used DAT, a DA30MKII.
It did in excess of 400 gigs and failed once in a venue that was unusually humid ( we had to rent a 1/2" machine and transfer to that for the show to go on ). I should say the DAT was seviced often.

I'm currently working with a band that takes a different approach. All the loops and sounds are loaded into samplers which are triggered by the drummer and keyboard player. This, in some ways is better as they are not tied to one arrangement and can extend tracks on a whim.

It's ethically the same though, wether you use sequences, tape, triggered sounds or whatever. I personaly don't have a problem with it.


Oh, I just remembered a little tale. A couple of years back I was chatting with a FOH engineer friend of mine, he was doing a tour with a high profile boy band. They had 4 different backing tapes. Each one had a different deliberate mistake on it, like the lead vocal on the backing track would get the words wrong or something.
When the "mistake" happend, the band (on cue) would stop, the singer would appologize to the audience (who of course took this as irefutable evidence that they could not be miming ), the click would cue the drummer back in and off they'd go again.
Stealthily, they would rotate the tapes throughout the tour so it wasn't the same mistake night after night.
Old 20th May 2006
  #42
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Jazzpunk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett
No one yet has responded to my question I posed twice regarding the difference between this and overdubbing in the studio. Why do some consider one cheating and the other not?

I'm a jazz musician. Jazz is built on the live performance model. For the last year or so I've been toying with the idea of using Ableton Live to augment some more convoluted tunes that would be impossible to play without adding a compliment of musicians we can't afford. Jazz doesn't pay well so groups tend to be smaller rather than bigger.

I haven't worked the bugs out and I don't know whether it'll be something that I really want to pursue or not, but I don't think it lessens the bands performance. Nobody is "lipsyncing" or miming. Nobody is pretending to play a part they're not playing. No one is trying to fool the audience. We have sections where we can stretch and we can repeat or go back to other sections. Theorectically it can follow your tempo, but I haven't really gone down that road yet.

It's not easy btw.

Most Ableton Live users seem to be DJs or electronic composers. Probably the smallest demographic seems to be guys using them to augment a bands performance, like I thought it was originally designed for. I'd be interested to know others who do this with "Live" or not. I've actually ony done one gig and the verdict is not yet in . . .
Sounds like what you are experimenting with will sound great. Personally however, I enjoy the distinction between the live environment and the studio environment. Not only do I expect the two to be different, I want the two to be different!

I love hearing a grandiose studio production stripped to it's raw, bare boned elements live. I also love hearing a band preview an unreleased song in concert and then hearing how they embellish it on the album version.

'The Who' was mentioned as a 'pro backing tracks' example so I would like to offer Jimi Hendrix as a 'pro non-backing tracks' example. Does anyone here actually think his live recordings are lacking because it was not humanly possible for him to perfectly emulate the layers and layers of guitar he would record in the studio?! To me it's a gift to have both versions available to enjoy and study. These two distinct mediums offer so much insight into his playing abilities as well as his studio genius.

To me this is lost when you have some guy sitting under the stage making sure your backing tracks keep streaming from Digital Performer.
Old 20th May 2006
  #43
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New poster on this board, but I would advise to stay away from minidiscs and cd players/dvd players - the Ipod nano is an awesome bet because it has very high sample rates and will never crash on you (well... I shouldnt say never). IF you decide to take this route - It's the safest I've seen. Im not gonna tackle the "musical purity" issue though
Old 21st May 2006
  #44
jbo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by henryrobinett
No one yet has responded to my question I posed twice regarding the difference between this and overdubbing in the studio. Why do some consider one cheating and the other not?
people expect and accept a certain ammount of cheating on a recording. when i hear a cd that has a ton of overdubs or exotic instruments, i often wonder how they pull it off live. if i find out that they simply play along to a recoding, i am very dissapointed. i'd much rather they just rearranged the songs to fit the band.

bottom line: if you can't rearrange the songs so that they sound good live without cheating, then either the songs suck, or the band sucks.

that said, there are bands that use recoded sounds in more artistic ways, and not so that they sound just like they do on their album (bungle was already mentioned.)
Old 21st May 2006
  #45
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watch radiohead. click, click. the best.
Old 21st May 2006
  #46
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I can still remember a time when overdubbing was considered cheating. It still is considered cheating in jazz circles, though it's often done.

Technology marches on. Those folks who who are so adamantly opposed to any use of pre-recorded enancements during a live performance remind me of those old jazz guys, not too different from myself, in bygonne days . . .
Old 21st May 2006
  #47
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OK, this is somethnig that I feel really strongly about and if I offend all of the music purists so be it. What the hell is the difference between playing back pre-record audio as backing tracks and playing back pr-recorded midi (which has been going on for years). There is no way that a synth player can play all of the notes at the same time having only 2 hands and midi is totally accepted as an important tool being used major touring bands such as U2.

To me the there is very little difference between using midi triggered sounds or pre-recorded wave files.

My wife is an excellent singer/songwriter who currently writes "guitronica" for want of a better description. She only sings on stage, prefering not to have a keyboard in front of her as it "cramps her style" as a performer. She uses one electric guitarist and her laptop which sits next to her on stage. She even introduces the laptop to the audience as the 3rd member of the band. While some older members of the crowd may occassionally have a problem with this setup it is readily accepted by the younger crowd members.

My point here is that she simply couldn't do what she does without the laptop, the sounds would not be the same using 6 more individual musicians all playing things their way. She still writes the music, and records it in our studio and then loads it into a playback program on her laptop, same with her backing vocals.
This is just the way she achieves the sound that she is looking for, who are you to say that she "isn't a musician" ?

Her material would sound totally wrong if she just appeared on stage with an accoustic guitar .

Finally, in the electronica music genre this way of doing things is totally accepted.
Old 21st May 2006
  #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthoid
The Alesis HD24 is a great piece of gear for this. Record background parts to it, and a click track on one of its tracks. The extra hard drive can be a duplicate that you pop over too in case of failure.

If you use a choir and strings on a song, should you never perform it live if you can't put a choir and orchestra on the stage?

-synthoid
I'm on the road with an artist at times who's using the HD24. The drummer's triggering it. There's actually no bass player live and that ain't braggng! It is what it is. The drummer's on ears and has the click. There's some loops, bass, some BGVs not much on there. It's not my ideal thing but it allows them to take me out and work so...
Old 21st May 2006
  #49
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For what it's worth...

I play with a trio doing some pop-jazz and a few latin tinged numbers. A few bossas as well. The trio is a guitar, drums, and me playing keys and bass. No vocals - just instrumental renditions of everything.

When we used the backing tracks, there was very little audience approval in the form of applause.

Since dropping the backing tracks, clapping after every song, CD sales are up, more requests for business cards, etc.

My best guess is that we soar more. And the people can tell.

Personally, I don't mind backing tracks. It's just that this is what works for us/me.
Old 21st May 2006
  #50
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Like I say I ain't bragging on playing with tracks. These are bigger venues, not humongous though and generally the audience doesn't have an idea. Occasionally a guitarist in the audience'll ask someone..."who's playing bass?" Busted.
Old 8th March 2007
  #51
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Sound aurgumentation is perfectly acceptable if it's done right!

Quote:
Originally Posted by s.d.finley View Post
This should be called FRAUD!! Is it LIVE or is it Memeorex? When you PAY for a LIve performance, that is what you should get.

sdf
It's BS to say it isn't!
Take a singer/songwriter who records complex material in the studio, building track upon track to get a big sound. He or she plays all of the instruments,sing all the vocals and writes the all the material. Then he or she uses a bunch of thoses tracks to augment the live shows, playing perhaps only with an electric guitarist while he or she sings lead vocals and is very clarismatic on stage, pulling the audience in while putting on the performance of their lives.
Why is that wrong? Would it sound the same with just an acoustic guitar...no way. How could they re-create distorted drum loops, mellotrons, string sections, multiple types of keyboard sounds etc, etc without a vast numbers of live musicians...they couldn't.
What's fraudulent about doing things this way...it's who they are, it's their material and it's their signature sound. It's all art and it's all a performance that shouldn't be dissed by the oh-so-superior "purists" that sound like crap half the time. I do live sound as well as engineer and produce so I hear it all.
Old 8th March 2007
  #52
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There was a thread just like this some time ago...

My views are still the same. It is 100% lame to play along to anything pre-recorded live. I go to see the band, not to hear the album. If I wanted to hear them play everything as it is on the album, I would stay at home and listen to the album. I want to see them rock the f*ck out. Nothin' rockin' about playing along to pre-recorded tracks in my book. Building loops live is fine, that's completely different.

I certainly don't have anything against anybody who does it. I've witnessed some of my favorite bands do it (usually just for an intro or some special part they only do once.) But it's a complete turn-off for me. If I know you play to a click or use backup tracks, then I'm not coming to your show. Unless you're Roger Waters. I may find other exceptions in the future. Like, for some innovative solo performer or something. But if you're a rock band, helllll no.
Old 8th March 2007
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by synthoid View Post
If you use a choir and strings on a song, should you never perform it live if you can't put a choir and orchestra on the stage?
-synthoid
I think if the song is good enough to stand on its own and the band has some creativity, they can rearrange it so that the choir and strings are not necessary. Some of my favorite live shows have featured stripped down versions of album songs that were just as moving as the full ones on the CD. All IMHO, though.

Cheers,
-MIke
Old 8th March 2007
  #54
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...

I think It all depends in the musicians will.... If the musicians think that pre recorded track will be better, then im ok with that. If they think that they dont need any pre recorded tracks, then, Im also ok with that.
Old 9th March 2007
  #55
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I agree with all of you and i just started a similar thread...

But under our circumstances..> We have an album almost finished that is sonically very very dense... The dense sonics is what makes the song the song...

We're not trying to pre record the rhythm section, vocals, or harmonies...

But we want to be able to have the sonic atmosphere while phsyically putting on a great show..

Like for instance... There are alot of pads, noises, wind, and weird sounds, that make are songs truly unique...

But live, it would suck for me to have to orchestrate those sounds like i did in the studio... I like to have the freedom to jump around from guitar to synth leads, to organ, and piano and play the song... Get involved and draw the crowd in... Not worrying about the orchestrations...
Old 29th May 2007
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seaneldon View Post
the following is 100% opinion:

if i wanted to hear a band's cd i'd buy the cd.

a live show is supposed to be way less sterile and scientific than a recording. it's supposed to be different and exciting, and i think it's a huge crock of **** when any band has the nerve to rely on a click and use prepared tracks. it's all an illusion. if they sound "good" because of this, they're lying to you. strip a band down to amps and drums in a room with a ****ty PA, if they still sound good, THAT'S a great live show. not this crap you're describing.
screw the rest of ya, i agree with this dude and Alex
concerning other posts,
1. it's a fallacy to compare a solo artist who plays all his own instruments to what a band should do. a solo artist can do whatever to get his music to stage, as far as i am concerned. if people know they are going to see a solo artist, what r they expecting live, for him to kick a bass drum and strap a cymbal between his knees ?
2. cd and live r different because anything goes on a cd, listen to sergeant pepper or other great records. if the beatles had decided to perform it live in 67, they could have done it with guitar, piano, bass, and drums and everyone would have flippin loved it i don't think they would have had an lp playing off stage.
3. some of these pro backing tracks opinions have been so completely juvenile and historically ignorant and musically uninitiated , they r not even worth responding to.
4. i bet some of these pro backing tracks posters have never seen a real rock/ metal band such as ozzy, or dokken, or badlands play their asses off live.
u would realize what a f'ing joke backing tracks r. u couldn't possibly add recordings to this level of intensity and improvisation.

interestingly, i saw ABC perform last year and they pulled off their signature sound and complex arrangements with 1 guitar, a bass, a drummer, a percussionist, 2 synth players and martin fry.
all the horn, piano, string, synth, and atmosphere stuff was pulled off amazingly well by these guys working together on synths. say whatever u want, but if there had been backing tracks instead of the synth players, i would have been very dissapointed.

regards,
TF
Old 30th May 2007
  #57
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Barnabas's Avatar
 

Many years ago, when CD-Rs first came out, I worked with two artists who used CD tracks live.

One was a solo artist who recorded an album, but traveled alone playing at churches. The final CD mix was sent to a CD-R without his lead vocal and lead guitar. At the church concerts, he would sing and play guitar along with the CD.

A rock group I worked with used tracks with a few of their songs.

For both of these groups I used a TASCAM CD-401 CD player. This player has a 1/4" remote control jack on the back labeled "Fader Start." This was to connect to a radio broadcast board to stop and start the CD player. The factory default was that shorting the contacts started the playback, and then shorting it again stopped it. I did a modification, which was listed in the manual, so that shorting the contacts started the playback, and any further switches did nothing. I made an adapter to convert the 1/4" jack to an XLR connector to remote the switch to the stage via the snake.

The CD player sat at the FOH mix console, which usually isolated it from any vibrations. I cued the CD to the right track, and the musician, when ready, stepped on a keyboard pedal switch, which was connected to the CD player via the snake to start the recording. The modification I made ensured that if the foot switch was accidentally stepped on during a song, it would not stop the playback.


I went to a concert one time specifically to see an opening act. I was seated (standing) right behind the sound mixer and was shocked to see that only two faders were up during the entire set, the lead vocal and the DAT. All of the guitar playing and drums that I saw going on stage were not being heard in the house. Now that was not cool! tutt
Old 30th May 2007
  #58
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[QUOTE=AlexLakis;725897] But when I get on stage with my guitar, I'm playing FOR ME. /QUOTE]
Yeah screw the people that actually took time out of their lives and spent money to come out and see you.

Quote:
If someone in the audience is mad because it doesn't "sound like the album," or "sound right to them," then they can go home and suck eggs.
Over time it is possible that they all will be home sucking on eggs ....or at someone elses show who plays for them.

Dude, you might want to drop that "100% lame" quote. It doesn't sit well with all of the disclaimers.
Quote:
I've witnessed some of my favorite bands do it
Quote:
If I know you play to a click or use backup tracks, then I'm not coming to your show. Unless you're Roger Waters
Quote:
I may find other exceptions in the future
Quote:
But if you're a rock band, helllll no.
Under what catagory do NIN fall under?
Old 3rd June 2007
  #59
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trident fan's Avatar
 

do you think nin is a rock group?
Old 3rd June 2007
  #60
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I don't think playing along with tracks necessarily makes your performace "dishonest"... A good example is MuteMath... they have probably one of THE MOST exciting live shows out there right now, period... and they use tracks. They are so inventive and creative... and the tracks (which THEY created) are just a part of that creativity. This is how I view it...

A
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