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Day 57 - Fly Home!

I fortunately made it into bed by 4 am only to receive a call from the the entire sound crew hanging out in Daniel's room. No better time for an important sound meeting and a few beers but could not abandon them so off I trot to hand for a bit. They really did an awesome job and got a kept a tremendous amount of highly complex gear running for each show.

**** Begin Travel Home Adventure ****

9:00 am - 3 hours of sleep delirium and packing bags, if only seeing was not such a challenge, this would be much easier.

As we all know, the English are well known for their adventurous and innovative thinking. Never to be caught in a pattern of cumbersome traditional ways, they are constantly coming up with new and exciting ideas! The English AC outlet is one such success story. Not only have they come up with a wall outlet that is increasingly large but more importantly, just in case you would like to plug something in while also not having any power go to it, they conveniently provide an on/off switch down near the floor. I, like many, enjoy the added benefit of bending over to turn on lamps off rather than use the silly switch located on the lamp itself.

Today I am filled with smiles once a again as I realize how glad I am that after plugging in my cell phone and computer last night I awoke to fortunately find that the wall switches do indeed work and neither comp nor cell is as charged as they would have been, had I turned the switches on.

Oh well, having a charged cell phone and computer is over rated anyway.

10:00 am - Free breakfast downstairs, yogurt and Muesli. Ya know they have like 5 different types of plain yogurt over here varying in tartness and firmness! Also, coffee and OJ, I completely steer clear of the questionable meet products, vat of yellow mush and anything resembling the post Exxon Valdez version of Prince William Sound.

10:15 am - Lobby call to head to the airport, I am traveling solo as I came in on a different airline and leave earlier than the rest of the LA crew. I am to connect at LAX and travel on to Portland and pick up my short people.

10:30 am - I enjoy the scenery as I continue to wait for the car

10:40 am - Word comes that my 10:15 ride is running late, I am filled with surprise!

10:45 am - The car arrives to take me to the airport

11:15 am - London Heathrow at American Airlines terminal. They can not find my name and recommend I head over to United like my schedule says, I commend them on doing a good job and by not letting me on the wrong flight.

11:18 am - London Heathrow at United terminal, they can find my name, no problem and inform me that my 1:40 pm flight will be leaving at 3:40 pm. Awesome, 4 and 1/2 hours of free time at the airport, how lucky am I!

1:00 pm - Wandering aimlessly

2:22 pm - I discover roadie Tim enjoying the pleasant atmosphere of the airport lounge. Tim's flight leave 2 hours after mine was scheduled. I say goodbye to roadie Tim and wish him a good flight.

3:20 pm - I continue to enjoy the cozy airport lounge during the London heat wave with other excited humans:

4:05 pm - While sitting on the plane, I am informed that "heat is wreaking havoc on the equipment and a fire stop canister has discharged in the luggage hold." After apologizing for the warmth, "we will taxi back so maintenance can have a look." I am filled with warm loving feelings of happiness and safety

4:50 pm - "We have good news, we have found the problem and located a replacement bottle, the bad news is that it will be about an hour and twenty minutes to get the bottle over here from British Airways." I was then informed that the flight crew will be turning on movies for us to watch. Instead, I watch them giving snacks and cold drinks to the humans in First Class while we starve and dehydrate.

5:40 pm - "We apologize for cutting the move short but we are cleared for take-off." Time to put my seat in the least comfortable position possible. Because we all know that if the the plane should plummet into the earth at 600 miles an hour, everyone that has their seat 2" back from misery will surely perish, while those with the seat in the upright position will walk away unharmed.

6:10 pm - Sitting in the parked plane while some knucklehead 4 seats away jabbers away like he has a clue. Offering useless info about us now needing to change flight due to some time limit crap. He knows this because of the direction the plane in facing.

8:40 pm - I am sleeping. Well, maybe not but I was sleeping. Don't know when we took off and I am going back to sleep.

5:25 am UK time 9:25 pm LA time - Nearly there and they something about someone meeting us to deal with connecting flights.

10:40 pm - Baggage Claim, I have missed the Portland flight connection, can not find anyone with info, just piles of confused passengers and I am told to go to ticketing.

11:00 pm - Ticketing, that was a bit of a hike 4 terminals away. Here I meet supervisor Mary Agnostaur or something like that. She is currently calling another passenger a liar before moving on to tell me and the rest of the group of humans that hiked across the airport that we need to wait in the line.

The line looks more like an angry mob. Unfortunately we lost sweet Mary to an angry New Yorker whom started screaming about missing her flight and being in said line for two hours already. Fortunately I pulled out my camera and filmed a short video clip of Mary that I will try and send to the airlines. Hmmm, I am not at all feeling the love. Unlike these lucky passengers that are clearly in a celebratory mood:

11:05 pm- $80 taxi ride home. A call to the airlines informs me I have been rebooked on the 7:15 am flight.

12:00 Midnight - In my bed 23 hours after getting up this morning and should reach my final destination in 10 more hours if all goes well.

**** End Travel Home Adventure, for today ****

Some days I feel more special than others. Good night.

The sometimes exhausted Dave Rat


Day 56 - London - Earl's Court Show Day #4

Today is the last of the 4 shows here and it has been a bit of a journey. I started out in near horror of the acoustics and ended up with a mild affinity or acquired taste for the venue. Like driving a different car, there is a feel to each venue and with each song or day, familiarity grows. From day to day we made subtle changes, nothing drastic but refinements that when combined together seemed to bring things to a balanced state. Either that or the parts that bothered me became like sound of an air conditioner in the background, where I just don't notice it after a while. As my expectations slipped away and the enjoyment of the beauty of situation at hand replaced them, I can say I enjoyed the adventure immensely.

Oh, and though I rarely if ever get star struck, partially because I can never recognize anyone and partially because there are not many stars that would strike me, I did feel a bit of awe when Jimmy Page stood behind me and watched the entire show from the sound board area. I was honored to meet him and his son and some things just transcend time. Who would have guessed that 29 years after seeing him at work with his bow in hand on Song Remains the Same tour in '77 (my very first rock concert), that he would come see a show that I am working and turning knobs through a towel! And not only that, he was friendly, sincere and amazingly cool, that rules!

Being a sound engineer can be quite challenging. If you think about it, the people that know most clearly what the show should sound like will never actually hear/experience the show from the audience perspective because they will be on stage. The audience is comprised of humans with vastly differing preferences, some favoring guitar, some want tons of bass, some love the drums and lots and lots that only care about vocals. Now splash in the fact that a portion of the audience is younger and want it loud, a portion are older and want it lower in volume and some of the older ones are going deaf and want it loud like the younger crowd. Now screw with their hearing by dumping in thousands of gallons of beer and drinks into a portion of the audience while leaving the rest completely sober and grab a hand full and cook their brains with whatever other mind altering substance they chose to consume. Now stir in the opinions of the girlfriends or wives of the band members and surround yourself with the bands management. The end result is a sonically diverse perspective concoction with an opinion set as varied as the critters that inhabit the earth.

The key to being a successful sound engineer is confidence and clarity. Your own confidence so you don't get drowned in the sea of opinions and even more importantly, earning the confidence of the artists so that when they walk on stage they know that it will be the best it can be given the variables at hand. Combine that with the clarity of knowing the difference between the things you can and can not control, The clarity to know that the gear is just a tool and never responsible for good sound. And the clarity to find that balance that keeps as many people as possible happy while maintaining the sonic presentation the band wishes to be presented.

Years ago I used to dread when band girlfriends and management would stand out front with me, and I had seen all too many shows where an off hand opinion brought much grief. Now things are different and truly I enjoy being surrounded by people that know the music and know the band and are discerning and care about it being right. Of all the people that come hang out there is one that really enjoys keeping us FOH (front of house) humans on our toes. Here you can see that I marked off and correctly labeled his favorite place to stand:

Thank you Peter for coming to hang out and keeping things interesting!

The sometimes very happy - Dave Rat

Day 55 - London - Earl's Court Show Day #3

In order to reduce the likelyhood of a show stopping beer cup bomb, Nick and I have obtained some high quality mixing towels and placed them upon the console. They theoretically should absorb and reduce damage from a direct hit from an incoming liquid bomb. They will not protect from airborne humans. May to my glee, I also discovered that I can actually mix through them. The faint glow of the lights below combined with the creases I formed in the towels around the EQ section are good enough to find everything I need to get to. Plus I can turn the knobs right through the towel so I am good to go and mix the show towels in place.

Now either I am really figuring this room out or I am just getting used to it or the band/audience combo has just really hit a stride or all of the above but it seems to be all falling into place. The strange thing is that I really have changed so little. We did do some work on dialing in the delay clusters but even that was not drastic alteration. Anyway, each show I am enjoying more than the last and tomorrow is the grand finally!

D Rat

Day 54 - London - Day Off

Come on for a stroll. There are so many things that are easy to take for granted and it isn't till we see it from a different perspective that we can truly appreciate the details of life.

I wanted to cross the street here but darn it all, I am neither riding a horse nor a bicycle:

Luckily I was able to locate this crossing zone where humans and bicycles are permitted to cross:

Only to be puzzled and confused as to what humans lacking horses are supposed to do here:

And wandering further into Hyde Park, check out this street light:

Like a gas camping lantern, this quad mantle street lamp appears to have a darkness sensor and an auto-ignite feature. Cool stuff and though I did not make it out here at night and forgot to notice them last time I was here. I will bet they give off a even more pleasing light than the lovely low pressure sodium and mercury vapor lamps that we so warmly embrace back home to illuminate our parks and streets in Los Angeles.

The art of intimidation is critical for protecting from and fending off potential villains. In order to strike terror into the hearts of those contemplating adverse actions, uniforms are often employed as symbols of power and strength. Here we can see exactly that, a guard prepared for battle, acutely aware of his surroundings and hair trigger grip on his sword. Clearly he is preparing to slay these dangerous damsels:

I could not bear to watch the ensuing blood bath so I walked away. And found something that does remind me of home, ahhh, skateboards, bicycles and graffiti!

And here we see just to our left is where the Frogger street crossing is that separates our hotel from things to eat:

This concludes the informative stroll and pretty much everything you need to know about London. See ya tomorrow.

David Rat


Day 53 - London, Earl's Court Arena Show Day #2

I was pondering the World Cup games and then pro sports in general. You have all the players and usually they are the best in the world. Each with their own assets and capabilities and then their combined harmony, the necessity that they work together and that they rely upon each other, adds a new dimension. When one team is pitted against another, the nuances of skill are amplified and their focused energies splashed to reveal a victor. But then tomorrow, the same teams could play and the outcome could be completely different, even if nothing is changed and no two games are ever identical. It is this unpredictability, this amplification of detail and the anticipation of the outcome that makes pro sports alluring.

In many ways large rock shows are like professional sports games. Except the dynamics are different On one team we have the band and the road crew. On the other team we have the venue, the weather, the local ordinances and police. The goal is for the road crew to overcome all the naturally occurring obstacles in each city so the band can rock and connect with the audience. If successful, the audience is immersed in a joyous state and is left with an unforgettable memory.

Sounds like we could make it into video game!

Do you remember sign boy? "John I want to play your guitar." Well his name is Nicolas and he was here tonight. He stopped by FOH and I asked him how it turned out and as you can tell by the picture below, he is still having difficulties getting over the whole traumatizing experience:

Either that or he raging on an air guitar. And yes, he actually did get to play John's guitar! And like many things in life, things that seem less than good often times turn out to be really cool in disguise:

Side stage shot of !!! whom have become friends and are great to hang out with:

Check out what landed in mix world! At least Robin did not come crashing in from above like that cup of beer did. I will have to come up with improved protection from airborne entities. And as long as no one smuggles in a catapult, most likely it will just continue to be flying drinks rather than humans. Though now that I think about it, back in the punker days, I did see quite a few humans launching them selves from high places.

And for a change, how about a picture of the rock show: