Large Tour Logistics, Part II
Getting The Kinks Out
When we last left Dave Rat, he had just embarked on the largest tour he's ever worked, a 14-date swing through Europe with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, slated to appear before almost 1 million people over the course of its compressed 23-day timeframe.
Dave is providing us with a behind-the-scenes report, as the tour unfolds, regarding the system approach he and the production team have devised. Essentially, the strategy is to work toward a "worldwide sonic consistency," even though systems will be provided by eight sound vendors from seven different countries.
To get up to speed on the concept, go to Dave Files 1.
Saturday - Nuernburg, Germany:
Playing at a famous auto racetrack today, wish I had taken the time to go the race museum that I heard rumors about.
Huge fields of Germans! Carrying around a quart of orange juice seems to be overwhelmingly popular here, in addition to the beer. They must be healthy audience. It's just a big musical camping trip, cold, dark, but people are having a lot fun.
I hear last night's show here was cold, wet and windy, but we faired a bit better in the wet windy area, still froze. Mental note: add warm jacket to Euro checklist. I've only been doing this touring thing for 20 years, ahhhh.
Line check at 8:30 am went a bit sluggish as each department smoothed out the rough edges. The main thing for me was that the (BSS) Soundwebs interfaced almost seamlessly. We were able to transfer over a level change on the center clusters from the local XTAs, transfer over delay times and away we went.
Our advance tech skipped this show so this was our first real test of the "B" drive. The show came up a bit coarse; it's been seven months since we've done this as a unit so I expected to have some rough edges.
- Checklist of things to deal with:
- Sort out the guitar setup/mic'ing - there have been some changes in the guitar since rehearsals and the guitar sounds are coming down the wrong mics.
- Talk to John Fruciante and confirm, which songs he will be playing through the other guitar rig - I got caught off guard on that one.
- Put some time into the tom tom sounds.
- See if I can persuade Dave Lee, John's tech, into pointing the guitar rig further off stage to reduce bleed into his mic.
- Make sure my vocal compressor inserts are punched in before the show starts.
All in all, the show went well, the audience was excited and though each department must be self-critical to refine and bring the presentation to its fullest, it was amazingly together. I was more in shock than anything else, trying to remember how to mix the band after a seven-month break.
New set, new songs, first show, lots of "spinney and slidey" things. Cold.
The new show videos are cool; lights don't have their full rig yet and won't have it until Milan. The general feeling is that we made it through without any significant hitches. Off to acclimate to bus world.
Sunday - Nuernburg, Germany:
New city but almost the same name as the last one, I talked to several people on the tour that had thought it was a typo and we were gonna do two nights in the same place.
The first sight upon opening the bus door was the huge structure that Hitler used to address the forces during WWII. Frightening and majestic, we are playing in Zeppelinfeld, Nazi rally grounds and blimp parking.
Standing on the podium area was spooky stuff, right out of the documentaries and movies overlooking an encompassed field, with the mounts for Nazi flags and spotlights surrounding a partially restored historical relic of a twisted past.
Tonight I'm looking forward to hopefully starting where I left off yesterday, it will be the first test of how transferable the consistency truly is. I hear The Muse playing so going to go wander out front and say hello and have a listen.
Monday - Milan, Italy:
Day off, sort of and only for some of us. First order of business, go find a cup of Italian espresso.
We're staying two blocks from Central Station. One of the down sides of being on a being on big tour is hotel check in, there seems to be a whole bunch of vaguely familiar people all checking in at the same time. I want to get into my room and was up early, but also there are people that have to go straight to the gig, so I am hanging back letting them get their rooms to grab a shower.
Last night went OK. Still not up to speed but the 'powers that be' seemed pleased - I personally was happier than the night before but still not fully there. The processor interface works, no problems, levels and sound quality discrepancies between our Soundwebs and the processors we swapped out are minimal or non-existent.
There had been a surprising amount of concern that has arisen from a select few of the companies concerning changing out the processors. Worries over sound quality differences, limiter settings and just lack of familiarity were all brought up. We still have one company holding out on us and now that we have a few successful shows under our belts, we'll ramp up the pressure to acquiesce.
I have a two-hour window to make noise today and it will be our first "real" show with the full stage, lights, video and sound configurations. There are 22 flown clusters, two sets of delay cluster rings and nearly 350 L'Acoustics boxes.
Tuesday - Milan, Italy (Show Day):
Regarding the earlier checklist, I did the following:
The guitar sound versus mic issue, it turns out, came about because the physical order of the guitar rigs was changed by the backline/band departments while the sound department was un-aware and placed the mics visually where they always are. No big deal, but nice to have the mics in correct order.
I spoke with John Fruciante to find out which songs he was going to the third guitar stack and got that sorted before the show. During the show, though, just to be sure, John decides to remind me over the PA "DAVE RAT, I AM GOING TO PLAY THE GRETCH!" All I can do is smile, for some reason; it truly does make me happy.
Stage audio did some work on the drum fill sound before the show and that also fixed the tom-tom sounds for me and I was able to keep the same channel EQ I've had on them for three years now.
A slight change in the guitar rig angle reduced the bleed into Guit Vox Mic to a manageable level.
As far as Vox comps, just dumb oversight on my part there, it won't happen again (at least on this tour).
My feet are tired, catering is on the next continent and I spent yesterday riding a bike around the venue with a walkie-talkie while subjecting poor working souls to the same song over and over again.
The venue/system combo was already very (SIA) "SMAART" and as "pink" as can be. I mainly needed to know the volume/tonal relationship between the various coverage zones and also wanted to take a photo from the back of the house.