How a bad sound guy can ruin your night, and your band
I cannot emphasize how critical running sound is. The issue is live sound . Some clubs around Seattle use good gear. Some don't. Some Indies bands cannot afford either to buy either a quality sound system, or hire a professional. I get that. Also true - some smaller club owners don't even know what good sound gear is. That's fine as well. What I I can understand is this: if you are a club that offers a decent to premium “live sound” setup, HIRE AN ENGINEER THAT KNOWS HOW TO USE IT! There are no excuses for hiring an engineer who will ruin everyone’s night – including the band, All in all it makes for a long night.
I happened to check out one of my favorite trio's last night who I have been waiting to see locally for quite some time. The trio consists of some super talented musicians. They have four albums out and they tour for nine months out of the year. They have played hundreds of shows and they consistently deliver amazing live performances. Needless to say, I was quite surprised to see that they were performing at this particular venue in Portland which I Will not name regardless of the temptation to slam them.
So once the opening band finished up, the headliners came on board. The next hour and a half were nothing short of torture. The feedback was out of control. Many people left the club because it was so bad. The band actually stopped several times in mid-performance to tell the sound guy to fix the feedback situation. Not to mention the overall sound was all over the place: there was not enough low end frequency, the snare drum sounded like a machine gun, and you couldn’t even hear the vocalist. The whole live presentation was clearly amateurish, and the sad thing was the band played everything perfectly. As a result of the band's frustration, they weren't as comfortable and therefore the performance suffered.
So the verdict – The band did what they were supposed to, the Inexperienced Sound Guy Club owner ruined the night for them.
So, what did we learn from our little discussion? "If you suck at running sound – quit your job! If you are reading this and you are a club owner in need of a good engineer, don't hire the first candidate that comes knocking. Shop around. Ask the candidates for references. Do they have experience, do they know what they are doing?