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Give us your top 5 'hairyest' moments! Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 11th October 2009
  #91
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Shim's Avatar
 

In July of this year I was running sound for a fireworks performance. Pretty simple setup at FOH: small mixer, playback from a couple old Fostex DAT decks (tell me about it), system processors, amp controllers, laptop etc., all feeding four stacks of Turbo Sound flex array across the field along with monitor sends to the two firing tables. Everything at FOH was under an easy-up tent for protection from the elements.

The weather report for the entire preceding week had said sunny and clear skies, so the fireworks crew had set up the entire 26minutes worth of fireworks without waterproofing. During the afternoon performance on the concert lawn everything looked relatively smooth, no rain, a little wind... but there were black clouds moving in on the horizon. By the time it got dark we had a couple of brief showers.

Now this show has been running to thousands of people every Saturday of the summer for 20+ years without a single cancellation...so don't think for a second there was any hesitation. The show MUST go on!
Right off the top the wind picked up drastically and I could hear the high freq's being whipped all over the place. Not three minutes into the show, the heavens cracked open, thunder, lightning, buckets of water, howling wind stikestikestike It got ridiculous...

The tent we were using had been snowed on in the previous season so it had sags that were collecting water. The tarp that we had set up to provide a wall on one side of the tent ripped off and would have flown away if not quickly grabbed by the other tech! The wind got so bad that I had to hang off the tent with one hand (other hand on the fader) to keep it from toppling over. The other tech was pushing the water off the top of the tent with a stick, which was filling back up as soon as it was drained. we ended up putting our jackets on top of all the gear because the rain was so sideways. There were umbrellas flying all over the audience. It was such a wild sight. Adrenaline was high.

Then, as if cued, the weather stopped during the final few seconds of the show...leaving us rattled, but the show was successful, all things considered. All of the mortars fired, but only about 1/4 of the ground displays (which feature prominently throughout the show) ended up firing at all. The next day the metal recycling was overflowing with what looked like over 1000 ripped up umbrellas.
Very memorable for sure, especially for the audience...
Old 12th October 2009
  #92
Gear Maniac
 

30 minutes into setting up a Dual 15" top and Dual 18" Sub JBL MRX rig on my own from scratch for a 180 capacity venue I had the promotor ask when I would be ready as he had just opened the doors when I had another hours work do to. Never in my life have I moved so fast to get a system running in under 15 minutes without lines run or microphones up.

The night went horrible when I realised the LS9-16 was still in photo and play mode with graphics on +12 and -12 on each frequency as you go. Add in having to do routing with promotors screaming at you and it being the second time having used the desk. What a horrible night. I handed mixing duties off to a touring sound man and went to troubleshooting lines and misc problems to have the system in top shape after a set to only get in trouble from the boss as the promotor had whinged to them.

After explaining the situation the promotor apoligized and bosses got off my back when they realised how fast I got it working when they ****ed up my booking and the promotor had breached contract.
Old 23rd October 2009
  #93
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Howie J's Avatar
Don't know it this counts as a "hairy" moment..(actually the opposite..) but I was setting up for the first concert of the year today at the High School I work at. Grade 4-12 choir concert. I had a praise band perform in the morning till 10:30 then the younger kids rehearse at 11:30 thru the older HS kids in the afternoon so I had to change a few things over quick so I could have some of my day to get things done. Plus we were having two guest artists that I had no idea what they needed.

We usually have two sets of stairs at the front of the stage, but had moved them on the stage so the performers could easily access the double high risers from the sides. No problem, just hop up on stage like always.

Was running mic cables to my MS pair of AT 4050's out front...went to jump up on stage, 3 step running leap....caught the toe of my shoe on the stage...took the full weight and momentum of my tumbling body directly on my left shin. Thought I had just bruised it until I felt that feeling of jeans sticking to something. Lifted it up and just saw muscle tissue. 3"X2" gash all the way down.

Went to the school nurse (who'd think you'd do that at 31 right?) got patched...to the ER....9 stitches and a preventative anti-biotic. Made it back by 6:30 to record/run the concert at 7. Now enjoying a wonderful mix of beer and ibuprofen. Thank God I get to sleep in tomorrow.

Howie J
Old 28th November 2009
  #94
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steveyraff's Avatar
Running a 2000watt P.A without limiters or compression for a teens battle of the bands rock concert.

Teens + Rock = Messy to start with. Not to mention constant changing of bands and equipment. Lots of unplugging guitars without prior warning, ****ty mic technique with screaming 'vocalists', whacking drum mics, onstage ego antics i.e swinging mics by their leads, diving into drum kits and knocking down all my mics, beer spillages beside my mixing desk etc. YIIIIIKES.

I was very aware I didnt even have any limiters so mic hits and whatnot was really freaking me out, I tried to keep things at the lowest volumes i could get away with. Unfortunately the kids onstage kept turning their amps up higher than the settings i gave them.

The WORST part:- Some guy plugged in a 'Roland Hand Sonic' electronic drum pad without telling me, he hadn't it with him at soundcheck so i knew nothing about it. He had the output volume maxed out on its settings. All of a sudden there was an almighty ear piercing blow as he hit it and triggered a synth drum effect that was super scooped and consisted of ridiculous amounts of low and high frequencies.

This instantly peaked out the power amp supplying the Bass Bins and the power amp running the tops.

Somehow, the tops remained on and working, but the bass bins cut out and refused to go on again. This is when i discovered the digital cross over had been set up for a tri-speaker set up. Now that the subs died, and everything was only running threw the tops, only high frequencies were being allowed through.

So, the rest of that bands set sounding like it was being projected threw a very large telephone

I had to wait until they finished to reset everything and do some very quick setting changes.

Its an extremely embarrassing and humiliating thing to have a venue full of people peering back at you. I felt like having a big light-up sign I could turn on that read "ITS NOT ME, THESE GUYS ARE IDIOTS!"

Ah good times.
Old 8th December 2009
  #95
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Red face

I have one that comes to mind...

I was doing a live audio AND video recording. The artist was me......

the live engineer was getting a buzz in the PA, so he took it upon himself to go to the split and flip a switch......my ENTIRE project was ruined. The hairy part was having the " WTF" conversation after the fact.

Lessons learned;

1. NEVER use a house engineer during a live recording. I now always bring my own sound if it's "my" gig, and also during live recordings for other artists...

2. A remote truck that requires their engineer to run stuff in the truck is criminal! I won't book you if you do this...actually I have my own gear now so this isn't a problem.



Rob
Old 9th December 2009
  #96
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once i was tracking some punk bands that were out on tour and had the club owner threaten quite a few things toward me and my gear......
i got to the club at soundcheck, talked with soundguy / bouncers, patched my mic splitters in with the FOH snake feed, put up my room mics, and once everything was set just waited as the sold out crowd, ~300 people filled the room. as the lights go out and the local opening band starts playing, some no nonsense looking guy pulls me into a tiny hallway. i stood there being asked lots of questions by harvey keitel's character in bad lieutenant, until we came to the mutual understanding that i would just leave the club. as far as he knew, i just had up some room mics, i forgot to mention to him that i had tapped into his FOH..... so when the opening band stopped playing i had about 10min in a packed dark room to unhook my splitters, and pack everything up. as i'm out in the parking lot loading up, i see the guys from the two headlining bands. i tell them whats going on and they are able to sort it out with the owner who comes back saying he's sorry and if i'd like i can go back and record. i set everything up AGAIN and somewhere along the line a channel changed so i didn't get the vocal track. don't you love clubs where "4 is out so 1-3 are 27,28,29 now and 4 got moved up to 5........." the BEST part beside not losing my rig and spending a night in jail out in Corona, CA was what the room mics picked up. i placed a stereo bar on the ledge of the lighting booth and in between songs you can hear beavis and butthead talking trash on the bands and all the people in the club.
Old 5th January 2010
  #97
Here for the gear
 

I have been a remote recording engineer for thirty five years and had lots of close calls, but I have never heard of another crew surviving this level of disaster.

I was the Chief Engineer/VP at Sheffield A/V productions and we had a remote gig outside of Madison Wisconsin recording the 1998 Tibetan Freedom Concert. It was my second TFC and it was a big show. We were going to record an all-star lineup that included Rage Against the Machine, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC, The Roots, Eddie Vedder, Debbie Harry, Tracy Chapman and lots more. I was doing the recording for television and live mix for radio.

The truck always goes out first and the crew flies in the next day. When we got to the airport, everything went well until the pilot fired up the engines and bad things started to show up on his oil gauges. They shut down the engines and moved us off the plane. We got on another plane but were now a couple of hours late getting into Chicago. We got a car and made good time into Madison, but things were tense.

It was summer and there were serious storms moving across the Midwest. The night before, they thought they had a tornado touch down on the site and water was everywhere. We did our best to run snake and power to the stage and keep it out of the puddles.

As the engineer, I am responsible for the recording so I interface with the producers, artists, FOH and Monitor guys, while scoping out the venue for good places to put audience and house mics. After all that, I went back to the truck to set up.

The Sheffield truck at that time was the only Solid State Logic equipped remote facility in the US. We had a 4048 E console with Total Recall. For this gig we also had 96 channels (!) of DA88 laid across two tables in the back for dual 48 track digital. The wiring and tape striping for that setup was a trip.

About 3:00PM I was in the truck, standing over the SSL, trying to lay out the show on the console when our tec, up on the dance floor, threw the power switch on the Leibert power conditioner. At that moment, the console started SIZZLING and CLOUDS of smoke started billowing out from everywhere! I started screaming SHUT IT OFF! SHUT IT OFF!, and banging on the walls. The tec heard me and shut it down, but not before an amazing amount of damage was done to the console.

My boss at the time (name withheld) ran into the truck and pronounced us dead. Time to go home. I told him to go find us some pizza because we were going to be there all night. Our tec, myself, and Stevie Weincam (THE best stage guy east of the Mississippi) sat down and tried to decide our fate. We were all unwilling to quit, so we decided to take the console apart and see what was destroyed. There were four or five resistors blown on each module, four or five capacitors and two fuses. The center section was fried hard as well. We had no spare parts other than (miraculously) the tec had thrown a handful of caps in his shirt pocket that morning before leaving the shop. He had never done that before, ever.

We called the local Radio Shack and offered to buy their entire stock of electronic parts. No dice, the guy had a date and would not wait even ten minutes for us. We called SSL in New York and I swear, when I told the tec on duty our situation, he told me, "I wouldn't want to be you!" Unbelievable. I told him we were going to hard wire across the fuses in the modules and he told me that that we couldn't do that! I told him, we couldn't NOT do it.

The next fifteen hours consisted of us swapping power supplies, sussing the damage, stripping the console of everything we could remove, cannibalizing sixteen modules to get parts to rebuild 32 good ones, blowing good parts up, and repairing and reinstalling modules. At one point around 1:00 AM we had blown up all of the capacitors we could spare and if we blew one more it was all over. We didn't blow any more caps. We rewired a couple of outboard mixers (one Neve and one Mackie) to handle the extra channels and wired up the Da88's in a configuration that would work.

At 5:00 AM we had everything ready to go, so we jumped in the car, drove an hour back to our hotel, stared at the ceiling for an hour, took a shower, ate and drove back an hour to the gig. The show started at 10:00AM and went full throttle until 11:00PM. I mixed 12 or so bands and did not loose a single instrument or vocal. I lost a few channels through the day but they happened (I don't know why) in between sets (less than 10 minutes between bands with a full console re-patch each time) and I was always able to patch around them for the next band.

It was a good show and no one else but our little group had any idea how close the whole thing came to disaster. If you liked that one, I'll tell you a really great one about Aerosmith.

Best Regards,

Bill
Old 5th January 2010
  #98
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Remoteness's Avatar
Exclamation

Bill, that's simply outstanding!

What an awesome story to tell!

It's been some time since your last post.
Welcome back to the forum; I hope you stick around a bit.
I'd love to hear the Aerosmith story too.

Enjoy!
Old 5th January 2010
  #99
Lives for gear
 

Hey, Bill, thanks for sharing. I bought that CD when it came out and it was one of the first to get me serious about live recording. Very awesome to meet the guy behind it all. A great behind the scenes story from an album that inspired me.
Old 5th January 2010
  #100
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steveyraff's Avatar
Really, really enjoyed reading that story Bill. Thanks for sharing! Makes my amateurish hairy moment seem completely stupid now hah. I'm also envious because I don't see how I'll ever have the brains to be able to open something up and repair it so easily as you guys did, that is the kind of in-depth gear knowledge I wish I had!

By the way, forgive my ignorance but what was the cause of such a catastrophe when the Leibert power conditioner was switched on? Was it something to do with water from the storm and how did you know it was rectified before turning it back on again? Sorry if these are stupid questions, just interested!

I'd love to hear that Aerosmith one if you ever have the time.

Cheers,
Steve.
Old 5th January 2010
  #101
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Lifted's Avatar
 

From another thread a made a while ago:

I just recently had a 5 song project to record:

Bass Guitar
Electro Guitar
Keys
Drums
Vocal

The set-up was LMFAO... you can laugh that's fine:

Behringer Eurorack UB802

FireStudio Project (8 Inputs)

ART HeadAmp4

Audio Technica MB/DK5 drum mics...with the only good mic being a kick mic.

We had SM7B...the best mic in the set-up and really cheap mics from Max (Germany rip off company that imitates other good German mics, and not in the good way), LG and Philips (Yes the Karaoke mics heh)

The objective was to record all 5 people back to back, but all of them playing the same tune together, and hearing each other.

LMFAO that was a reaaaaaaaaaaal mind twister...the outputs on the back of the FireStudio Project were busted too. Nicccceeee

We are recording in this basement with everyone being in the same room with a drummer, besides the singer, that is in the other room with a little build in window in the door, like a dog house. HAHA

Ok here we go: We probably took a good 3 hours trying to figure the **** out.

1. We plugged 8 mics into the interface for the drummer.

2.
Went out of the interface headphone jack, with a splitter into TAPE IN on the Behringer (now the drummer is in the mixer).

3. Plugged Bass Guitar into Channel 1 Line Input of the Behringer

4. Plugged Vocalist into Channel 2 Mic Input. Now we are OUT of GAIN knobs...YES!

5. Plug Guitar into Channel 3 Line Input...now we had to adjust everyone way low, just so we can sit the guitar in the mix for everyone to hear.
I had to use EQ switches and put them to 11, and Level Gain to Max.

Take the headphone out level from FireStudio Project down, now the drums are down too. Good.

6. Plug in the keys..YES...using them EQ switches cause now it's a great wall of instruments howling through the headphones.

(This part took at least 3 hours to figure out...that day)

Ok so far so good.

Now we are coming out of Tape OUT into the ART Headphone amp, via the splitter. Got the signal.

Now we need to plug TRS cables and drag them across the room so everyones' headphones reach the ART Headphone AMP.

TRS out of Head Amp, little adapter to change TRS male into the TRS female...good...plug headphones in...hmmmmm....sound in the right ear only?

We have TRS mono cables and not stereo....AHHHHH...played around pulling headphone cable half way out....STEREO! BALLING

*DUCT Taping the CABLES so it won't slip out*

Daisy chaining XLR cables all over the place to reach everyone's mics / instruments. MAAAAAAADNESS

We have only 4 outputs on the headphones, and 6 people that need to hear the mix (including me)...plug 2 people per headphone channel. Ahhh the noise levels...

Finally all "good". Start recording.

What's that cracking sound in the mix?

Isolate the problem. Soloing every track until I find where the problem is. Hmmm Ch 5 on FireStudio Project. (Either Mic, Cable, or Input Channel) Switch cables. Problem on Ch 6. Uh-huh...so either cable or mic. Use the different mic, everything nice and clear.

Now we are down one mic, the problem is... this is a clip-on mic, and we don't have another mic stand. So we unscrew the kick mic that's using a mic stand and mount it on this clip. Now we have free Mic Stand, and we strap SM7B on the kick drum

Turn the headphone levels up for everyone...Buzzing like transformer land.

"More ME...MORE ME" ok...more Behringer gain, more Buzzing, hahaha, more main mix gain overall on Behringer for everyone you say? ....YAY more buzzing.

We are ROLLING. Like a muffled freight train.

Got the drums recorded.

Tried to record everyone by each other, but it didn't work. So we ended up recording all 4 other people together, and it worked thumbsup

Dude this was the CRAZIEST recording session I had. First off the gear limitation, second the band of 5 people where it's: "**** YOU DUDE...stop hitting the drums...before I punch you in the face"...artists drinking cognac...and the only dude singing is also their main leader and the producer putting **** together. HAHAHA...

Every day there was something else, buzz, hum, ground loops, players not ready, multiple takes...
"can I redo this"...
"I want more ME"...
"Nahhhh dude, turn him DOWN"
....

"yeah...... same Headphone box...but I'm a f-ucking engineer magician, I make **** happen...let's work that EQ on the trusty Behringer LMFAO"

This one day we were recording and the wire was short circuiting or something, the sound kept going out in the right ear. I'm surprised they kept playing. (Def appreciate the patience from these guys, cause the **** was getting crazy every minute)

Day 3: "Yooo dude you hear that f'ucking buzz, that **** is 3 times louder than yesterday"
"Yeah man...F-U-C-K IT! Let's do this ****!"

This is only part of those 4 days.

I learned so much from this session, and surprisingly the recording was VERY well done, regardless of all the situations. I went through so much stress, but we handled it well, and I gotta say man, this is fulfilling on so many levels, cause this was a disaster session, in EVERY aspect, and we handled that **** WELL.

Until you hit situations like this, you won't appreciate that good gear you have in your house/studio (I didn't it), this gear was not mine, but I def learned so much from it.

We engineers are an interesting breed, we are given the tools (good or bad) and supposed to make a bullet from a turd, and if you handle that **** (literally heh), you will CRUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISE with everything else.

So don't take **** for granted, cause there are people with very limited gear and chances to make it big/make good music, and they still keep going, and that **** inspires me man.

Plus you never know what problem you may run into, until you actually run into it.

We had to isolate SOOOOOO many problems, that I probably learned more from this one session than last 6 months put together, doing the easy set-ups with my gear.

Good luck to all, and I hope this can be a good lesson for everyone, or some **** to read and laugh at.
(Cause I'm still going "WAHHHHHHT AAAAA FFFFFFFFUUUUUUCK, DUDE...????!!")
Attached Thumbnails
Give us your top 5 'hairyest' moments!-1behringer.jpg   Give us your top 5 'hairyest' moments!-2firestuproj-large.jpg   Give us your top 5 'hairyest' moments!-3headamp4.jpg   Give us your top 5 'hairyest' moments!-4750-headamp4_rear.jpg  
Old 5th January 2010
  #102
Here for the gear
 

Wow that was a quick response! Thanks for the warm welcome guys. It's been a while.

Stevey,

We never actually found out what happened to the power supply in the SSL. The insurance company paid off on the console though. There is a possibility that it was just time for the main supply to go and take everything with it. It might have been a massive surge, or even another lightning hit as we powered up. We never pinned it down. But fortunately we carried a second power supply, or everything would have been lost.

Bill
Old 5th January 2010
  #103
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Gravity's Avatar
 

Man.. I've got a few of my ownt o share... But I'll have to leave them till another night. Gotta be up early and its late.. but man.. all these war stories make me itch for the next gig.... Shouldn't it be the other way around?
Old 5th January 2010
  #104
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steveyraff's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Mueller View Post
Wow that was a quick response! Thanks for the warm welcome guys. It's been a while.

Stevey,

We never actually found out what happened to the power supply in the SSL. The insurance company paid off on the console though. There is a possibility that it was just time for the main supply to go and take everything with it. It might have been a massive surge, or even another lightning hit as we powered up. We never pinned it down. But fortunately we carried a second power supply, or everything would have been lost.

Bill
Ah I see, thanks for clearing that up Bill! See you around!
Old 5th January 2010
  #105
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jwh1192's Avatar
steve,

i love this thread ... bad stories are good as long as no one gets hurt ..

bullets flying past my head for a documentary makes me feel ill hearing your bullet hole in the console right where you were standing ..

we were doing a gang doc in several bad parts of los angeles around 20 years ago .. and the gang we were with decided to run up to a rivals house and just open fire .. the house responds with guys running out the front door shooting .. at the gang at us .. there is nothing like that sound on earth .. it is like death chasing you around .. cheers

....

i just read the truck tipping story from niagara falls ..

i am from niagara falls ... that town never really treated me right either ..

great place to grow up .. you would be surprised to know that the falls were a huge jazz town in the 50's .. tons of music when i was growing up .. but it all went down hill fast ..

i know this is not a production story but it is a falls story ..

guy i went to high school turned out to be a fireman and jumped into that water to save a girl that fell out of a boat up river .. i am not sure i would have the balls to tie a rope around my waist and dive in somewhere around 20 feet from the brink .. talk about 9 lives ..

take care out there this year lads and lasses ..

cheers

john
Old 6th January 2010
  #106
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Mueller View Post
Wow that was a quick response! Thanks for the warm welcome guys. It's been a while.

Stevey,

We never actually found out what happened to the power supply in the SSL. The insurance company paid off on the console though. There is a possibility that it was just time for the main supply to go and take everything with it. It might have been a massive surge, or even another lightning hit as we powered up. We never pinned it down. But fortunately we carried a second power supply, or everything would have been lost.

Bill
That was a great story. Having helped rebuild a Sountracs console over a period of a few months, I find it absolutely amazing you were able to get things to work!! I guess if there is a will there is a way. I would love to hear the Aerosmith story too.
Old 7th January 2010
  #107
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AlexK's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Mueller View Post
Wow that was a quick response! Thanks for the warm welcome guys. It's been a while.

Stevey,

We never actually found out what happened to the power supply in the SSL. The insurance company paid off on the console though. There is a possibility that it was just time for the main supply to go and take everything with it. It might have been a massive surge, or even another lightning hit as we powered up. We never pinned it down. But fortunately we carried a second power supply, or everything would have been lost.

Bill
Completely different scale to this, but we had the same thing happen to our 02R96 just before a live recording at Uni, luckily we had a (very old and used) Sony DMX-R100 we could swap it with. The Yamaha literally let out a large puff of smoke...

I've never had anything go wrong during a live recording, mainly because I haven't really done that much of it yet, but I've had the main inlet trip during a musical in a theatre whilst I was doing sound...
Old 7th January 2010
  #108
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexK View Post

I've never had anything go wrong during a live recording, mainly because I haven't really done that much of it yet, but I've had the main inlet trip during a musical in a theatre whilst I was doing sound...
Geez,

I once plugged all of ZZ Tops guitar amps into the stage lights circuit! At the Palladium no less. On the Rio Grande Mud tour no less. With our own billboard on the Sunset Strip no less. In front of a sold out crowd no less. I cannot tell you how deep my stomach sunk when all the stage lights went out and the bands guitars kicked off in the third song of the set.

To tell you how great Bill Ham, Pete Tickle and Dave Blaney were, they ALL knew I did it, and no one said a word to me after the show. They just went on like nothing happened.

Bill
Old 8th January 2010
  #109
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jwh1192's Avatar
good thing .... today, the entire crew would have been water boarded to find out who did it ..

LOL

great story ...
Old 8th January 2010
  #110
Gear Nut
 

Had a great one just before Christmas...

A group of us were at the NEC (large UK arena) doing our last gig of the year, we were at monitor position, side of stage when one of the techs announces that one of our colleagues who was not on the gig was coming down to watch the show...

Needing an AAA pass to enter the gig the monitor engineer asks us to 'donate' one of our to get him in at the back door...

Un-named engineer tosses his stage pass over to the monitor engineer who proceeds to catch it, only to realize that the chain lanyard on the pass has slipped through his fingers, into the fader slots of the Soundcraft Vi6 console and become wrapped around the master aux faders internally!.. All whilst the arena is fully loaded and the desk is routing the walk-in music moments from show start!

Whilst half the crew p*ssed themselves with laughter (me included admittedly!) a couple of the guys set about opening the desks control surface, removing the fader and dismantling it so the chain could be freed..

The lanyard was freed, the desk rebuilt (whilst live and STILL routing audio) and the show went without a hitch!

This proves one thing, that with the most reliable equipment, the most professional crew and the tightest deadline... it's still hillarious when someone messes up big time!

It's things like this (and there are many) that make me love the job I do...

Long live Rock n Roll!
Old 17th January 2010
  #111
Gear Head
 
niquest's Avatar
 

I guess I enjoy reading these stories so much because it makes me think "hey, I'm not alone". It really helps getting over the stomach cramps I still get when thinking of some things. And it's funny, too. Anyway here are my top 5 hairy situations. Oh, the creeping panic:

1. Back in 2008 I recorded sound for a theatre production for tv with 3 days of exclusive tv-production and one evening's show. Everything went wrong. The day started with trouble with interfering radio frequencies between my wireless rig and production comms. The stage props and in fact the whole scenography turned out to be the worst place to hide mics, so it took us a long time to get set up. We had everything running 30 mins before the first take was scheduled. So 20 mins later the psu on the transmitting side of our madi system craps out. This had been tested extensively beforehand and the backup was to be a pc-based card that could do the conversion and routing.
So while the whole production is halted with the set manager yelling at me, we try to get the b/u system up and working but a new and theretofore unknown driver error crashes everything all the time. Having no backup to the backup I resort to some old 16-pair snake that someone in the house found and try to go analog. Needless to say that of the 16 available paths only half work properly. We finally start rolling tape an hour late with me only recording the absolute minimum of signals and the radio eng making new patches for every take. So my nerves were a bit frayed and I forgot to set the correct start time for my Pro Tools session. The recording quits in the middle of a great take and I only notice PT wasn't running after the fact. When I tell the director he just laughs.
The next day (with a new 24-pair-snake on our side) he calls a retake to the one I messed up and expressly tells his assistants to name it after me. I still was happy he did the take and when, during the show, two of the six HD-cams died I kind of felt relieved that all the bad luck of that production wasn't to be put on my shoulders alone.

2. This summer I recorded a film music for one of the very few high-profile tv movies that still get a real orchestral score done for them in my country. My partner, who was to engineer at the desk, couldn't get the truck started the day before. So while I was still busy trying to sort out the composer's weird click tracks, he got all the equipment to the hall with his car while recharging the truck's batteries. Then he called me and we set up in the night. Being pressed for time we employed a local assistant who set up most LDCs the wrong way round complaining about the unprofessional way we miced up the orchestra.
In the morning I get together with the composer and the arranger-conductor to go over the music. Lots of score sheets are still missing, half of the parts have yet to be printed. I am supposed to produce this with the composer sitting beside me and telling me how he meant it to be played. So we start recording while the arranger's assistant prints out the missing parts. I have hardly slept and while still trying to get my head around the generic schlock we are recording I am talking softly and gently to the orchestra hoping that the conductor knows how to interpret the material. The composer tells me nothing. In the first break, he pulls me outside the truck and complains about the way I work, telling me he'd rather have me replaced if he could only find a replacement that quickly. It turns out he wanted me to make the orchestra play the dynamics he never put in the music in the first place, plus he was freaked because the tv company's music supervisor was scheduled to visit for the second session. Spent a very unpleasant day.
The second day wasn't that bad as we got used to each other. After the last session my partner tells me that the first couple of takes were recorded with the woodwind spots turned the wrong way. It turned out to be no problem because our main system worked really well but when I put my headphones on I noticed the dreaded sound of excessive click leakage through the conductor's headphones. In the chaos of the first session nobody, including myself, had taken the time to check headphone levels and the conductor hadn't complained. Since the click track was erratic and faulty, we had to monitor it all the time in the CR. Terrible beginner's mistake. I paid for it by spending a good 24 hours in the studio with a couple of liters of beer and the reNOVAtor plug-in. Thank god for it, too.

I realize this is getting rather long and with nobody waving a shotgun at me in any of this I guess I'll make it shorter.

3. A tv show with classical and popular acts hosted by an opera singer. I have 18 Channels of radio mic. A 20-meter aerial extension cable decides to quit working in the middle of the show. I have intermittent signal. No way to work around it. During a break the host decides she wants no mic in the bathroom with her. Granted. But does she have to rip everything apart - the whole intricate cabling in her undergarments, and even smash the DPA4061 capsule?
One of the cameramen is using his preferred open walkman headphones for comms. Unfortunately he's the one doing the macro closeups on the cellist when he is playing the softest solo passage and everyone is holding their breath. Except for the director on the intercom. No reNOVAtor can erase the man's thick austrian accent.

4. This happened to my partner last year but it has done things to business for me, too. Few words are needed describe the horror: total freeze of all controls save the master fader of a sony dmx r-100 during a live radio broadcast. The particular situation and chain of events makes all backup systems useless. Reboot takes 5 mins, so he calls the station's broadcast management and they switch to broadcast loss routine or how ever you call this in English. We're exceptionally lucky to still get an occasional job from those guys and that's only because we could make it clear that it was a terrible case of the unlikely occurrence of a million tons of bad luck and no blunder on our side, stupid as it may have looked.

5. Same radio station the year before. Forgot to bring the red light required by station rules for their live sunday mass broadcasts. Had 1/2 hour to find replacement, came up with pink energy-saver bulb hidden in christmas-decoration-star. Broadcast went smoothly. Everyone loved the pink star except the church radio broadcast supervisor who brought this up after #4 happended. Boy were we f***ed then.


Wow. I hardly ever post and never this long. Can't tell if it's totally boring. I hope not. Thanks for your patience.
Old 17th January 2010
  #112
Lives for gear
 

No, definitely not too long and not boring at all. Thanks for sharing!
Old 25th May 2010
  #113
Gear Addict
No that was a great read!

My hairiest moment was setting up for recording a live concert (Guitar Orchestra) - about the 3 hours before the concert was due to start, my hard disk recorder wanted to REFORMAT! And there was no way to tell it not to. It had a 4 hour count down, but luckily it was going faster than realtime, and 10 minutes before the concert began it'd finished formatting... a shaky couple of hours for me, but it all went well in the end (apart from the noisey lights above the orchestra...)

Luckily I had a Zoom H4 on standby for backup of the stereo mix, just in case. Always have a backup!

x
Old 15th June 2010
  #114
This year, recording the Purevolume House at SXSW, Travie McCoy does a DJ set and invites people onstage. FOH guy runs to our truck and tells me to come out and watch the mics. We had 414s and Royers onstage, and I went out to prevent them from walking away.

Travie invites more and more people, including two fat guys. They pull their shirts up and have girls bang on their bellies. We have it on film somewhere. The fat dudes start jumping up and down, along with what had become 30 people. All the sudden, everybody hears a huge *CRACK*. The stage broke! Everyone onstage sunk about two inches.

Lighting guy runs up and gets everybody out of there. Security helps. The building was completely emptied, and in 30 seconds, we decide what to do next.

Over the next 20 minutes, FOH - James Duvall, who is a total badass and fun as hell to work with - and my crew reset the stage on the floor, drummer perched on the one piece of stage that was still solid. We moved power, monitors, PA, backline, mics, cable, everything. It was bedlam, but it worked. I've never been more proud of my guys!

Doors open back up, and the people come in. It's 3:30AM. The next act was Rival Schools, who killed it on the floor-stage.

After that? Andrew WK!!

I get called up on the stage by James to watch the mics again. In the hustle, I forget my earplugs. Oops.

So I'm behind a guitar amp that's turned up to a million. Guitar tech leans over and says "next one's gonna go off! - get ready!". It's crazy already, so I don't know what he means. Next tune is "I Get Wet", and at Andrew WK's command, every free Miller Lite and Taco Bell Burrito given away that night gets thrown in the air straight for the stage and my face.

All hell breaks loose. People get called up on the broken stage, despite security concerns - it's complete bedlam. During last tune, drummer points at me with one stick while keeping the beat with the other. His backing track rig is being pushed over by drunken revelers on the stage. I dive over and wrap my body around it for the duration of the tune, my ears about 4 centimeters from the snare. At some point, Andrew gets pushed over and sits on me.

The show finished without a hitch, and James and I did celebratory vodka shots afterward.

Man, that was a fun night! I'll never forget it! I had plenty of time to think about it, too: after the last day of SXSW, it took four of us six hours to clean all the bean burrito from every cable. Don't even get me started on the snake...

Proof: Andrew WK Live From The PureVolume House Videos! (I'm the dude in the hat behind the Orange cab, stage left. The bewildered look on my face is 100% genuine).

Shout out again to James Duvall - he's a class act and exactly the kind of guy you want in a situation like this when the chips are down.

-Andy
Old 22nd June 2010
  #115
Lives for gear
 
AlexK's Avatar
 

Not particularly hairy, but I was recording using outs from the FOH desk (a Digidesign Venue SC48) with ProTools (16ch down Firewire) and my own rig (Reaper, 26 analogue signals down Firewire), everything all clocked together.

I ran both rigs side by side for the two hours leading up to the event, as IMO, if anything was to go wrong with either rig, it'd go wrong in the first two hours. Lucky I took this approach as the PT rig crashed 20 minutes before the show began. I'm no ProTools expert, and haven't really used it much TBH. I had to frantically scrabble to find a new hard drive (the rig wasn't my own, and had been recording on to an internal MacBook Pro drive) AND work out how to set PT to track to another drive (much easier than I expected it to be).

Gig went without a hitch for the rest. Still made me a bit nervous for the opening few numbers...
Old 11th March 2011
  #116
Gear Maniac
I have a lot of really newbie and really hairy moments.
You are free to LYAO at me

- FORGOT TO HIT REC?
My setup consists of a laptop with nuendo and a 16 ch interface.
I monitor from the DAW itself, so I can use solo, mute, stuff like that.
I`m recording a gig from the city orchestra. They made 3 shows and the last one is being recorded for a DVD.
I record the first set, all good, do some solos, mutes, some mixing with volumes and pans so I get a good overall picture of what`s being recorded.
First set finishes, I hit stop.
Second set begins, everything is arriving at the interface without noise... I do some solos, mutes... and enjoy the show...
The second set is about 5 minutos away from finishing, I close the mixing window on the nuendo and take a look at the edit window, and there is only one set of audio files (from the first set) and I look at the timecode and it`s stopped.
ARGHHHH!!!!!
Luckily so many people went that they had to do another show a week later and I recorded it (for free of course) and had to do some serious time stretching to fit the music with the video feed from the first recording :-S
I told them some guy from the venue kicked away my power cable, but I took full responsability XD
I was way to ashamed to admit it.

- FORGOT TO HIT REC? v2.0
Not too long ago I went and recorded an open air festival with 8 bands. It was in a public park with houses at less than 200 ft away.
The gig begins with some hip-hop, blues, funk, rock, metal...
The first 6 bands sounded good. Loud and proud. And they were all introduced by the organizer of the festival.
When band #7 was getting prepared a neighbour came and complained about the volume (it was a sunday at almost midnight).
The band starts checking sound, I`m chatting with my assistants and a couple of friends. I hear at low volume a guitar doing a riff, a bass tuning, keep chatting, then I realice I`m hearing something a bit more coherent musically but it was quiet as hell. It was easily 20 dB quieter than the previous bands, and no one introduced them.
I`m like I walk a few steps to the PA engineer and ask him "are they still soundchecking or is this already their gig?".
He takes his eyes away from the mixer, looks at me for a couple of seconds without saying a word, looks back at the mixer and continues moving pots and faders.
I, without saying a word, hit rec and felt like a grounded boy for the whole set...
By the way, same happened with band #8...


- WINDOWS 7 FAIL:
Same circunstances as the first hairy moment. City orchestra doing 3 nights and recording the last one for the DVD. This one was their new season, 3 or 4 months after the first one.
I arrive like 3 hours before the gig begins. There wasn`t going to be a soundcheck anyway since the orchestra coudln`t be earlier.
I star miking, put the cables onstage, I put the really nice so they don`t look ugly on the DVD. I do everything carefully. 8 Beautifully placed mikes on stage plus 4 lines from the mixer. Everything is connected to the interface and I still have 1 and a half hour before the concert to chill.
I turn on the interface, turn on my laptop with Windows 7 installed that same morning, to be sure that I don`t get a blue screen or anything.
I open nuendo, set-up everything, create tracks, route them... hit record to test and no audio regions appear on the project... I get a really cold chill, since I remember I had tried to install Windows 7 previously on my laptop, but I couldn't get it to work with my interface, and that is why I kept using XP.
I try everything I can and I can`t get it to work. And I`m FREAKING OUT!!!

The show was at 20:30, it`s already 20:40, the musicians are getting ready onstage, they tell me that the show starts in 5 minutes, and I`m talking with one of the first violins and organizers of the orchestra, and a lifelong friend, and I`m telling him that I can`t record, and if someone from the orchestra has a laptop. And he is like "Why are you telling this to me now?!"
I walk with resignation to my laptop, and see on the desktop a folder which said Tascam US-1641 2.01, and I`m not sure if I installed that one or another one, since I think I had downloaded two versions.
I said, well, you are already not going to record the gig. You might just try to see if it works, so you know for the next one.
I install it, restart, go through the painfully slow procedure of installing the Tascam (you turn it on and off like 3 times).
Open the nuendo, hit record and VOILA! It works! :D
The front curtain opens 30 seconds later and the gig is succesfully recorded :D
By the way, in that gig the orchestra played "Bohemian Rhapsody" with a rock band and a vocal quintet.




- NO DRUMS RECORDED:
This one is probably the worse.
I`m out of town for a couple of months and I left my rig to my assistant meanwhile. While I`m away a friend contacts me and tells me his band is doing a 15 aniversary gig and they want a DVD, and therefore a multitrack recording.
The idea is to have two separate 16 ch rigs. One for the support acts (about 5 of them) and one for the main band.
He tells me they don`t have much budget, but if I record the other bands I can sell the recordings to them and he can help me do that to compensate their low budget.
So I tell my assistant, I brief him through chat, phone...etc I tell him to get direct outs from both mixers.
Record first the 16 channels of the support acts, and then change the plugs to the main mixer to record the main band also in 16 tracks.
I call him the day after to ask how the recording went, and he told me they made a last minute change.
They used only one mixer with 24 channels, and they used two drum kits, instead of double everything. 8 channels each drum kit (16 ch) and 8 channels for everything else.
When I see the masters he recorded, the support acts have only 8 tracks and 8 audio files. Only stereo ambience, vocals, guitars and bass.
And it goes something like:
- Why didn`t you record any drums from any of the support acts?
- Becouse the plugs were connected to record the drums from the main act, and they were using the other drum kit.
- And why didn`t you change the connections?
- I don't know...

FAAAAAAILLLL !!!!!!!!!

Well, at least the main band recorded well.


- LAST SECOND PLUG AND FIRST SECOND FEEDBACK.
This is not recording, but live bradcasting of a band gig.
A TV show called me to be a mixer engineer.
A band was going to play a gig on the garage of the TV Station, and I was going to do PA mixing, monitor mixing, and mixing for live broadcasting over TV :-O A first time for me. All three with the same Behringer mixer hehe
I plug my stuff, start doing sound check. All the TV staff and stuff is there. Cameras, cranes... And suddenly I hear "20 minutes and we are on air", and that minute I find out. DUDE! This is live TV! They handle this by the seconds. It`s not like a gig that the band goes onstage 5 or 10 or 50 minutes late.
I keep checking sound, monitor mixes... etc, and a couple of times someone from the TV staff tells me that they are going to pass me a line with the mikes of the hosts of the show, so that they can be heard on the PA by the audience.
It was rather small, about 50 to 100 people, but still.
I say ok, give me the line.
I finished my last touches of the mix when they said "Ok, one minute left, stop the noise".
And suddenly I remember that no one gave me the other line with the host mikes.
I ask the TV staff, they send someone to run, and bring me the cable ASAP.
I see the guy with a cable on the hand running towards me as I hear "We are going live in 10.... 9.... 8...." and I`m like "HOLY F*CK! I`M GOING TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK!"
Before the guy arrives, I very quickly seek a free channel, put the gain to minium, put the EQs in flat, fader down and assign to Main.
"3.... 2...." The cable gets connected with the "One". They say "We are live".
I lift the fader and a huge, but HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE feedback occurs.
And the hosts are like "Hi, welc (FEEEEEEEEDBACKKKKKKK)... hey, what was that!"
It happenes that they were sending me a very, VERY VEEEEEEEERY hot signal of their mikes. Extremly satured, and with stupid amounts of gain, creating a feedback paradise...
Old 14th March 2011
  #117
Here for the gear
 

Once upon a time when I was a young girl I recorded a band with a brass section. This was probably one of the first live sound things I've ever done - I think I was in high school at this point. We had set everything up nicely and the whole evening was timed to fit within a live broadcast window. The setup went really well, everything was calm, except that one guitarist kept asking to be turned up in the monitors (Guitar players were sharing a monitor) and the other guitarist kept trying to get me to turn him down. No big deal, that happens a lot.

We're about two minutes to go and we're doing final tweekey things, making sure everything is happy, and the trumpet player has come to talk to me about something pertinent.

I hear a snap and crackle, the sound of things getting unplugged and I notice that the guitar player who kept asking to get turned up had taken the trumpet's mic and is now taping it to his guitar stand with gaffers tape (?). He pulled his own amp around him to the front so he's now standing directly in front of it with him facing it and not facing the crowd and is plugging in that mic to his line. We look around and the brass section looks annoyed and the other parts of the band are ignoring him.

FYI: We (at his request) had routed through his amp to a DB and then in since he liked that chain. Apparently that had not sounded good enough and he wanted the amp miced instead as a last minute decision. Also, he moved the monitor to the side of the stage and had decided that his amp as a monitor was good enough. Other guitar player apparently didn't care if there was a monitor or not since they were just standing there noodling their guitar.

My boss is standing there mouthing "NO!" to the guitar player and the producer of the show is going "you're on in a minute!" and little ol' me is standing there dumfounded having never seen anything quite like that before.

Boss tells me to get levels for the amp that is now miced and runs out to put another trumpet mic up and is trying to console the now angry trumpet player along with the "manager" to get them to start on time.

After the show said guitar player had the audacity to come up to me sloppy drunk and say "Hey, you're pretty cute..." in a leery way. He was probably in his mid twenties and I think I was maybe seventeen? Creeper.

That, my friends, was the last show that particular band ever played together.
Old 14th March 2011
  #118
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
Hey, Story:

I cannot believe that guitarist was allow to do such a thing, especially last minute just before a broadcast without any "sign off" from the producer of the show.
Old 14th March 2011
  #119
Here for the gear
 

Me neither...but I think he just sort of did it - no asking or anything. He waited until we were preoccupied with last minute details and then did the switching and taping in about a minute flat.

I'm still not sure what he was thinking...
Old 14th March 2011
  #120
Lives for gear
 
edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Story View Post
Once upon a time when I was a young girl I recorded a band with a brass section. This was probably one of the first live sound things I've ever done - I think I was in high school at this point. We had set everything up nicely and the whole evening was timed to fit within a live broadcast window. The setup went really well, everything was calm, except that one guitarist kept asking to be turned up in the monitors (Guitar players were sharing a monitor) and the other guitarist kept trying to get me to turn him down. No big deal, that happens a lot.

We're about two minutes to go and we're doing final tweekey things, making sure everything is happy, and the trumpet player has come to talk to me about something pertinent.

I hear a snap and crackle, the sound of things getting unplugged and I notice that the guitar player who kept asking to get turned up had taken the trumpet's mic and is now taping it to his guitar stand with gaffers tape (?). He pulled his own amp around him to the front so he's now standing directly in front of it with him facing it and not facing the crowd and is plugging in that mic to his line. We look around and the brass section looks annoyed and the other parts of the band are ignoring him.

FYI: We (at his request) had routed through his amp to a DB and then in since he liked that chain. Apparently that had not sounded good enough and he wanted the amp miced instead as a last minute decision. Also, he moved the monitor to the side of the stage and had decided that his amp as a monitor was good enough. Other guitar player apparently didn't care if there was a monitor or not since they were just standing there noodling their guitar.

My boss is standing there mouthing "NO!" to the guitar player and the producer of the show is going "you're on in a minute!" and little ol' me is standing there dumfounded having never seen anything quite like that before.

Boss tells me to get levels for the amp that is now miced and runs out to put another trumpet mic up and is trying to console the now angry trumpet player along with the "manager" to get them to start on time.

After the show said guitar player had the audacity to come up to me sloppy drunk and say "Hey, you're pretty cute..." in a leery way. He was probably in his mid twenties and I think I was maybe seventeen? Creeper.

That, my friends, was the last show that particular band ever played together.
Haha, good story, reminded me, many years ago, I was the drummer, we got a festival gig, outdoors, big crowd, as we take the stage, the guitar player swipes the floor tom mic, and sticks it on his amp!!! Unfortunately, the FOH guy didn't see this, and literally proceeded to BLOW THE SYSTEM UP as he kept trying to get more floor tom, and the guitar player hit the boost for a solo. Ah, youth, an interesting time.........
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