What prevents you from enjoying the performance?

A week or so ago, I played a local, "big time" performance spot and as is almost the norm when stage monitors are involved, the sound on stage was awful.  It was "ok" during "sound check" but then went all to **** once we started playing.  It ruined our performance because of the distraction and discomfort especially when compared to my 2 Bose S1 Pros we use in my practice space.  The sound system was "traditional" -- a bunch of QSC 10s with 2 of them used for (too loud) monitor wedges. 

Interestingly, after getting my Bose S1s, I sold my pair of QSC 10s.

My late friend U. Utah (Bruce) Phillips used to point at the monitors and tell the sound guys, "Just turn these things off, they just confuse me!"  I'd rather play with NO monitors than a lousy mix and outright distortion in the ones that are there.  What was especially interesting is that at no point did the sound guy come back and stand next to the stage to listen to the monitors. 

When I mixed sound for festivals, etc. (1968-2017 - never again) and had stage monitors, I would ALWAYS get behind them and check out the monitor mix after I got the house settled down -- just to be sure.  Why doesn't anyone do that?  Why do they assume that performers have the time, skills or desire to even ask for decent sound on stage?

I've done other "Big Time" shows at other times on rather big stages - large folk festival(s).  The mix was awful but each time I looked over to the monitor sound board at the side of the stage to get it fixed, there was usually no one there.

Did I mention that bad sound on stage ruins performances?

 

 

Feel your pain Chet, been there. For me as the main singer, when I can't hear myself  (very well) above stage volume I start to strain and push a little harder vocally, measuring and calculating risks I can take to hear myself. Conversely, when my L1 II is tuned and balance and I have all that lovely head room....Feel like I can just let go and perform rather than play the song. I get to stretch out a bit having that proper reinforcement. Definitely think the L1 helps me be a better singer.

Thinking about this, "What prevents you from enjoying the performance?" I decided to go the other way and think about what I personally enjoy about musical performances.

I like story songs, ballads, melodic music. I like good harmony, clear vocals, a sensitivity to the story being told and a delivery that convinces me the story teller has been there, done that.

Good musicianship. I am a mediocre musician at best, self taught, play by ear, relatively little band experience. I marvel at good musicians, people who know their instrument and play as easy as I walk, ensembles that work together like a finely tuned machine, they make me try harder.

Good songwriting. I can forgive a lot in the singing ability dept. and enjoy mediocre musicianship, if the singer / songwriter is really good at his writing craft.

When I am the performer, I try to put out the same thing that makes me happy as a listener. 

Several years ago we had a conference in Colorado. The hall where we played music was a mostly wood paneled room with reasonably good acoustics. I remember discussions about how the L1's became invisible. Not because we couldn't see them, they were in plain sight, but because it was as if there was no system, the sound was so natural, real, we were immersed in it, not being subjected to it. I like that.  

Looking back over many years, the performances that I remember of my own making that were not enjoyable, were those that either a bad system, bad sound man, or too much ambient noise made delivery difficult to impossible. That is not to say that every audience I played in front of liked me or my performance, or I liked every every audience I played for. Sometimes we get booked into venues we have no business in but we deliver our best anyway.

 

 O.. 

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