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Day 285 - March 6 - San Antonio - Show Day

Wow! The fans were crazy loud! So cool and ouch, my ears. Being surrounded by so much energy is an instant thrill that flows excitement through everyone fortunate enough to be immersed. The band can feel it and reacts with their music, the crowd reacts to the band's spinning of the wheel with more energy and round and round it goes into a spiraling frenzy. Meanwhile, I am wedged firmly in the middle amongst and amidst the masses with the auditory blast of the band at my finger tips. Oh my, what is one to do when the audience's exuberance begins to drown out the band? Well, I turn it up of course, and so I did and so it was and so that spinning wheel spun even faster. Fun show!! Loud show! and just as in last blog I laid focus on the grumpy, greeders and other human feeders of Texas, today I would like to highlight the other side of the natural balance shared a glimpse of the amazing and magical energy of experiencing a massive clustering of humans on an adventure of smiles. Which the Texians do quite impressively well. Oh, did I mention that I do love Texas?

**** Dear Ratty ****

Hey Dave, I've finished reading through the log from day one until now and its been both interesting and fun. Thanks for doing something like this.

I have two questions though, and I apologize if you've already answered them already. I hear about rehearsals, and I think you mentioned them at one point. What are rehearsals for a live tour? Is it just the band rehearsing the songs they'll play, or do you set up a PA and get things tweaked?

The second thing I've been wondering about is the opening acts. Do they set their console up behind yours, and are they simply patched into your desk before they hit the PA? Also, do they share the lighting rig and snake?


Hello Joe,

Ok, rehearsals come in several flavors. With the Peppers, which do not perhaps follow the norm, there are the few month of pre album rehearsals with just the band in a small space where they do song writing and the band writes the music.

Then they record the album. Then they do pre tour rehearsals for a month or so pretty much all by themselves where they get up to speed rocking the tunes to start the tour. Then there are a few weeks of pre-production rehearsals with the monitor rig.

Next and overlapping and separately is a week or so of production rehearsals where the sound lights and video all set up in an arena and make sure all the sound, lights, video and staging gear interfaces and works together.

Finally there is usually a "production day" or two where the band and all the gear rock in unison preceding the first "real" show.

As far as my interaction, I increasingly "visit" as the tour approaches and listen and learn the new songs by hanging out. I spend a good amount of time at pre-production rehearsals and this last time, that is where we got the new Pro Tools recording rig all dialed in. I then move over to the tail end of production rehearsals, mess with the sound system a bit and off to tour, bye bye!

More typically, many large bands where theatrics are integral, will set up for an extended period of time in a large venue to get it all dialed with the band and production, but with the Peppers since it is truly and quite purely music oriented, with the production merely highlighting and drawing focus to the somewhat free form and constantly changing set list, we setup up cool gear, the band comes and rocks and there is not the weeks or more of choreography.

As far as support acts, you you pretty much hit the nail on the head. They either use a board that Rat supplies (Mike Watt) or quite often, as is the case with Gnarls and Mars, they bring in all their own FOH and monitor gear and patch into the the main PA system. Something of note is: Peppers/Myself always give support acts full control without restrictions or limitations over the sound system. It is truly a level playing field plus, support acts are given a sound check every show day and Peppers sound check perhaps once every six to nine months, if that. Though the Peppers backline techs do test the gear and play a song or two.


**** End Dear Ratty ****

For all y'all that are curious about the keyboard setup that Chris Warren, the drum tech, plays behind the guitar rig, here it is:

The controller on the left is hooked up to a Mac laptop and does the sound for snow. The one on the right is for the vocoder sound on Anthony's vocal on By the Way. Anthony sings and while he is singing, Chris plays the vocoder that creates an altered real time effect on his voice that shows up as an extra input to me. I then have to remember to turn it on and follow the level by hand and mute afterwards. Easy stuff, as long as everyone never forgets to do their part.

Okey dokey, off to sleep my way to Houston,

Dave Rat

Day 286 - March 5- San Antonio - Off Again

Some times life can be a blur and while sliding back and forth in bits of time as we take a look out the window of a jet landing in San Antonio through the eye of an open shutter camera, proof of that blurry life concept is confirmed.

Texas is a proud state that is not only large but there are also a lot of cows and steers. I have a theory that it is the generational teachings of ranching which involves the corralling of fairly dim witted animals by scaring them a little bit with dogs and cowboys with hats on horses and then putting some food in a fenced area that is equally effective for turning four legged critters into dinner as it is for corralling votes from the idiot American public that makes up a high percentage of our country. Hence, the only logical reason we could possibly have babbling corrupt lying dumb ass running our country.

Anyway, Texas is proud and big and was home of Davey Crocket and Jim Bowie (the knife) and past famous wars. Hey, the Alamo!

Remember the Alamo!

Hmmm, actually I don't have any recollection of it. But I do remember Texas police setting up drug inspection checkpoints and randomly searching vehicles for degenerates carrying "The Pot" as they crossed over the boarder (from Louisiana to Texas) into the lovely overheated terrain of of oil, ego, greed and red necks. Fortunately, I was not a partaker in "The Pot" but my heart and compassion goes out to those unfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of twisted mind with a gun or a badge. That was back in '86 though when I had an immature illusion that Americans actually had some sort of privacy rights, you know, that whole freedom silliness that is supposed to make us proud Americans. Since then and well over a million miles traveled about and around this ball we live called Earth, I have found my way to seeing things a bit more clearly, perhaps. Texas pride, American Pride, Shit kicker pride. Perhaps we are truly only as great as we are willing to be humble.

Anyway, don't get me wrong, every city, state and country has it's fair share of assholes and I don't really mind them too much as we need them around to keep the friendly humans from getting lazy. Oh, and the Mexican food here is all good, as are many of the people I know here and speaking of Mexican food the 24 hour place to eat here is called Mi Tierra

And this big friendly guy has rooster. Continuing the wander I yesterday head down to the sexily named AT&T Center where Peppers will play in a few days

to visit another Rat Sound tour called Taste of Chaos

Eight bands, rotating stage and six Rat crew on the road with another V-Dosc rig. It is desire and duty to visit fellow Rats whenever the opportunity permits. Greg, Steve, Tony, Taka, Baby Food and crew chief Tommy LBC are out there running the sound and boy that tour moves fast and hard. Five in a row shows, covering ground so fast it makes peppers tour look like it's barely moving. Basically it is the closest thing to a roadie boot camp you can find on larger yearly full production scale, possibly second only the grand daddy of gruel, The Warped Tour. It is a love hate thing and the people that tour and enjoy the travels of Taste and Warped are a special breed indeed and it where we find out what the crews are really made of with it being a starting point for many a successful sound career, oh and quite a few crash and burns as well.

This tour bus with trailer setup is not uncommon on higher density tours. It is pretty cool for bands that travel relatively light to be self contained, often with band, crew and all the backline gear as a single traveling unit.

For a show like this with 5 minute set changes, dual digital consoles is pretty much the way to go. All the bands' sound engineers store their settings and at the press of a button are ready to rock. Yes, digi boards are not my favorite but neither is the sound of an MP3 player, the issue is, sometimes it is just too inconvenient to carry a live band in my pocket. This tour is running a pair of Yamaha PM5D's both out front and on stage.

The rotating stage has an "A" side and "B" side and the is a console pair for each. While one band plays, the next is setting up behind and spinny spinny poof, there is the next band when the time comes to rock. Speaking of rock, here is a shot of 30 Seconds to Mars

Followed by The Used

Cool to watch and cool to see my fellow soundies in cities afar. Finally, look at that! How cute, the Texans have put cowboy hats on the bathroom signs, awwww

Ok, I will see y'all tomorrow and hey, how about we head right back over to the AT&T Center for a change, wheeee!

Dave Rat