DISCLAIMER: Contains strong language and sarcasm to follow the theme of sound engineers.
It’s a well known cliché as a performer, ‘Whatever you do, don’t piss off the sound guy’…or girl. But they’re USUALLY guys, and USUALLY have no sense of humour, social skills, or ability to smile. This is not always the case, but it USUALLY is. Here we have…
Growing up as a performer I was always told, “No matter how great your act, or how good your voice is, if the audience cannot hear you or see you then you are gonna bomb.”
This is absolutely true and so I will always turn up to a gig full of respect, politeness and Essex charm for the sound and lighting engineers (maybe it’s the Essex charm that pisses them off). To sound check a band is indeed an art form often just as important as the performance itself. Lighting can be equally as important to ensure you look sexy and that the audience feels the mood. I have met some lovely sound engineers in the past – particularly JOSEPH who was our very friendly and helpful sound engineer when we played at The Slaughtered Lamb in December (he was even wearing a jolly Christmas jumper), and the very accommodating sound team at Westfield Presents who are always great. However, I could probably count on one hand the amount of nice engineers I’ve worked with.
Maybe ‘The Sound Guy’ is simply a frustrated performer (musically or sexually – who knows). Maybe they want to be doing what you’re doing rather than making you sound good. The problem is, is that when ‘The Sound Guy’ is a miserable little shit, it can impact on your performance to the point where you take your anger out on your tambourine and break it. Nine times out of ten the venue will not be able to cover the band fee based on a door split. When you have four acts on including moi and my 5-8 piece band along with 3 other singer songwriters accompanied by a guitar it’s pretty obvious when you have a 60-40 door split with the venue/promoter and about 100 people paying a fiver on the door (divided by 4 acts) you’re gonna walk away with peanuts (who knew gigging involved so much maths?) You sound great, along with the other 3 acts, cos the sound engineer did their job, right? But the sound engineer is probably the best paid twat on the night.
Why treat me and my band like we just ate your dog?
Come on now, we all just wanna do a good job for the punters – so don’t be a dick.
We turned up late once (by 15 minutes) to a venue that had Fuckface McGee as a sound engineer. We broke all sorts of highway laws trying to get to that venue on time. We had even emailed the engineer that day to say that we would be a little late as we had another gig earlier that afternoon. But still when we turned up full of apologies the sound guy looked at us as though we’d just shat on his mixing desk. When my manager told the sound guy that we had emailed him earlier he actually laughed stating that he doesn’t read emails that day until the following day — well thank you Fuckface that’s really helpful. We suggested doing a line check for the rest of the instruments and we’ll sort the levels out during the first song baring in mind this is a bar we’re playing in, not Wembley. Well, I think he liked that idea as he banned us from having a sound check and sashayed away. As much as I respect the importance of the sound guy’s job and the amount of sound checking he has to get through and the ordeal of having to put up with us unbearable, unreasonable and egotistical musicians – you still don’t have to be a dick.
So after Fuckface McGee’s tantrum, my options were to either throw my tambourine at him or go down the pub. Tambourine or pub? The tambourine was tempting but then I remembered, ‘Don’t piss off the sound guy.’ So we went down the pub.
The gig actually went well and the sound was good, as it always is at this particular venue that shall remain nameless. However, to my surprise after the gig, Fuckface actually comes and joins me and the rest of the band full of compliments wanting to have a jolly up with us and his complimentary White Russian cocktail with a pink umbrella. Maybe he was bi-polar. Or maybe he was on his period. I’ll never understand. Sound guys…
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