Wichita and 4

Chilly outside but at least it’s wet. Got a short bike ride in to get a weekly planner and it was extra refreshing in near freezing rain.

Yay, production has the venue nice and warm again and all went well. Gonna gopro mixing peppers a few of these last shows, did a test run today and forgot how annoying mixing is with console lights, really tempts one to fiddle more than make changes with distinct purpose.

Four more and it feels good, the end of an awesome journey and the so many unfinished projects and new ideas I am anxious to tackle.

For the sound nerdery topic of the day, let’s chat about marley. Not Bob but rather the floor covering used to skin over stages for rock shows. It’s a thin rubbberish matt that gets rolled out, sometimes with graphics, often just black. It not only provides a smooth surface for performers, consistant traction and a place to mark where all the monitors, risers and stage gear goes, it also can make the stage more forgiving for dancers and jumping around. Just about every major production carries these huge rolls and tapes the seams smooth for each sbow.

For Peppers, there is also a cushion layer underneath to reduce impact. And of course no wonderful and useful things comes purely without its online set of issues and challenges. One of those issues has to do with using a brand new marley. When setting up peppers production back in August, we get the stage all set, all looks good, and when Mark goes to check the vocal mics, snap, static discharge to the lips, owww! 

Turns out, no one is able to walk more than 3 steps and touch a vocal mic or stand without getting zapped.

There is spray called static guard but have not had successful results that last the whole show using it in the past, and odds of finding it in Czech Republic are slim. It’s one of the oscilloscope last minute oh shit moments and the band will be there in a few hours or less. Shocks we pretty George and jumping through mic windscreens as well.

We tried wiping down with water but Shocks came back as soon as it dried. What we needed was to ground the marley but marley is an insulator and not easy to ground. Had we the time, laying a grounded metal mesh underneath would most likely solve the issue. Also, once marley gets a bunch sweat, spit and dirt as well as beat up a bit, the static issue subsides.

What to do that can be done fast? After bit of thought, I suggested and requested some bottles of water and a bunch of table salt from catering. Put the salt in the water, peel up the marley seam and dump the salt water to form a conductive liquid layer between the underside of the marley and the cushion pad. 

We tried one bottle near Anthony’s vocal mic and it was better. So we dumped three more bottles of salt water and stephanie smoothed it the spread it around and no more shocks.

Yogi and Taka feeding some salt water to the marley seam.

I don’t know how many more shows Yogi was dumping salt water before the marley electrostaticaly stabilized, but the shocks never returned.

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Author: Dave Rat

Sound Engineer at Red Hot Chili Peppers