DR blog -Amstredam 1

Hopped in the merch van after Antwerp for a short drive to Amsterdam. I was planning on buying a new Brompton, taking a train to The Hague and Clint Vicky and I riding 40 miles back to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, most bike shops are closed on Mondays. Would be nice to upgrade as the one I have now I bought used and for the amount of riding I am doing, really needs an overhaul. Plus I’d like to switch from a 3 to 6 speed version.

Touring with Chili Peppers is pretty good stuff as far as touring goes. Never more than 2 shows in a row and lots of back to back shows in the same city. So we are here for 4 days before heading to Luxembourg. 

Ya know, doing sound is easy, getting a good sound is harder, getting a good sound consistently in a wide variety of big echoey venues is a real challenge. And making everyone always happy is a pipe dream.

My methods to attempt happiness success is all about triangulating numerous factors. First I am looking for even coverage throughout the venue and honestly I entrust that to long time FOH tech Jim Lockyer currently working with Radek from Highlite, our Euro sound vendor. 

Second I am looking a smooth frequency response as measured by a spectrum analyzer as well as my ears. Probably the most overlooked but critical factor that ruins mixes in big venues is room resonance. Find it and EQ the shit out of it to get rid of it. Usually for the 18,000 to 25,000 capacity arenas, room resonance is in the 120hz to 180hz range.

I use a headphone reference as well, by listening to the mix in headphone and the the hearing the room, its fairly easy to pick out frequencies that the room or system is reproducing unevenly.

Meanwhile I pay close attention to room temperature while Narci, our production manager works with each venues to try and thermal consistancy from show to show.one thing we shoot for is to turn of all temperature control and air handlers 30 mins before Peppers. This allows the room to stabilize. Then once we have some songs in, narci adjusts as needed to keep people from overheating.

For the Antwerp gig we started out with a warm room with a bit of a dull overall sound. As it got hotter from all the humans, the air conditioning ran for a bit and the sound got more crisp and clearer. As the outside temp dropped it seemed to hold the cooler temp and reached a stable balance. The general rule is that the more stable and consistent the temp is, the more stable and consultant the sound will be.  Also tracking these temp changes and making sure to compensate on the house EQ rather than destroying the channel EQs is important.

Simultaneously, of course I am paying attention to make sure all the instrument levels are balanced so everyone can hear everything as clearly as possible. With Chili Peppers, every sound you hear is being created in real time by either someone on stage on an occasional effect from me.

Over the longer term I pay attention to comments from friends of the band, band managers, personal friends, concert reviews and occasionally even sound from YouTube videos of people holding up their iPhone at various locations within the venue.I know I will never get perfect sound, what I shoot for is great sound, or at minimum, better sound than anyone else is getting in that venue.

Ok, picture time: awkwardly low human to case on ramp ratio

Sometimes we experience catastrophic to failures that can have severe impacts on our ability to rock a gig.  Here you can see monitor Mark and power Tom fixing the wall wart adapter for the dressing room stereo

Touring would be a bit more challenging is we moved sound systems using the bike trailer option. 

Ok well, woke up this morning and as I read the news my life slippes backwards to high school. The lunch table cliches of people I neither like nor talk to, the jocks versus nerds versus hippies versus punkers. Surrounded by the feeling dread at the thought of my future life sitting behind a desk and following the presupposed paths of acceptable success. 

And I realize the collapsing illusion that anything has changed is purely a result of successfully isolating myself from the same people I dreaded back then. 

I don’t know a simple word to describe how I feel. Some combination of sad and numb yet a familiar head shaking comfort and resolve.

Oh well, it could be worse, it can always be worse.



Author: Dave Rat

Sound consultant, sound system designer, curious human