Does your band suck?
December 8, 2006 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Rules for Musicians. Posted on the wall of the always glorious Elbow Room in the equally glorious downtown of Ypsilanti, Michigan, here are some rules to follow should you wish to avoid the enmity of the sound guy and patrons.
posted by John of Michigan (48 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sounds like sour grapes from people who don't even have enough talent to form a shitty band.
posted by caddis at 6:09 PM on December 8, 2006


Rule 21: Try not to let the sound guy terrorise you with his arse of a list. Remember the people are here to see you, not him. Because he's a twat.
posted by Robot Rowboat at 6:14 PM on December 8, 2006


good rules. some of my bands didn't suck.

turning down is the key to good live sound
posted by unSane at 6:15 PM on December 8, 2006


Funnily enough, the link to the soundguy's band gives us insight into how my HIS BAND sucks.
posted by gcbv at 6:17 PM on December 8, 2006


Funnily enough, the link to the soundguy's band gives us insight into how much HIS BAND sucks. (and my typing sucks)
posted by gcbv at 6:17 PM on December 8, 2006


Sounds like someone missed their afternoon sleep.
posted by mattoxic at 6:18 PM on December 8, 2006


My experiences at the Elbow Room would seem to confirm Mr. Rowboat's theory: the sound guy was a bit of a twat. Nor did he seem competent enough to justify said twattiness.
posted by monocyte at 6:26 PM on December 8, 2006


What if these guys were in the audience?
posted by Tube at 6:26 PM on December 8, 2006


Soundguys are notorious pricks, but they have to deal with drunken, no talent egomaniacs yelling at them all on a nightly basis who somehow think the soundguy's decision to mic a bass cab instead of running a direct box is the reason why their band sounded like shit at the local battle of bands in podunk Iowa and did not represent them as the superstars they know they truly are. This guy somes off as a jerk, but many of this dude's criticisms are valid. The quip about every band member wanting everything in the monitors while refusing to turn their amp volume down is an especially common. Bands who don't know any better try to battle each other for volume on stage and they have no idea that it makes them sound like shit through the house sound. I'm so glad I don't run sound anymore!
posted by tiger yang at 6:30 PM on December 8, 2006


"sounds" like a jerk. Sorry
posted by tiger yang at 6:31 PM on December 8, 2006


Mostly good rules, but he does come across as an arrogant prick. I am a (coffeehouse) sound guy, and #8 is my personal pet peeve. We use portable stage sections, and I quite often end up moving all the bands crap onto the floor so that we can break down while they ramble on WAY after everyone else has left. I'm real good at returning a blank stare to the dirty looks given for touching their stuff...
posted by DesbaratsDays at 6:34 PM on December 8, 2006


What's wrong with setup guys playing along with the music? Jeez.
posted by surplus at 6:37 PM on December 8, 2006


I like bands that talk clever in between songs.
posted by zerolives at 6:51 PM on December 8, 2006


Ypsilanti Rock City.

That said, my favorite uncomfortable sound-guy v. musician standoff came at a Don Caballero show in Charlottesville, VA. Basically, Damon Che still thought it was 1995 instead of 2002. The sound-guy was actually a pretty good one considering the limitations of the space (pretty much a concrete cavern), and Che just kept taking shots at him all throughout the set (probably out of frustration that not that many people had showed). By the time they finished their set, pretty much everyone was ignoring the band and getting loaded at the bar, justifiably.
posted by bardic at 6:51 PM on December 8, 2006


Does your myspace page suck?
posted by hermitosis at 6:55 PM on December 8, 2006


There are so many great sound people out there who TRY to help you sound great - this guy just seems like a incompetent ass...
posted by mildred-pitt at 6:58 PM on December 8, 2006


1. Everybody's Myspace page sucks.
2. All sound-guy's are pricks.
3. All musician's are pretentious ego maniacs
4. All stereotypes are self-fullfilled
posted by HyperBlue at 7:17 PM on December 8, 2006


I dunno... numbers 2, 3, and 8 bear repeating. Especially 2.

Or maybe I've just seen a disproportionate number of bands who like to tune after. every. song.
posted by AV at 7:21 PM on December 8, 2006


Sounds like a typical sys admin.
posted by strawberryviagra at 7:24 PM on December 8, 2006


William Faulkner's daughter asked him once not to get drunk on her birthday.

His response: "Nobody remembers Shakespeare's child."'

Musicians might want to try a similar approach with this kind of asshat.

"So how many girls get all weak in the knees thinking about The Sound Guy?"

"How many MTV specials does The Sound Guy get?"
posted by jason's_planet at 7:37 PM on December 8, 2006


This guy is dead fucking on.
posted by phrontist at 7:37 PM on December 8, 2006


Hailing from the tiny-yet-tough city of Ypsilanti, Michigan, The Jealous Type have been honing their unique sound since 1998 - and that sound is all about intensity.

The Jealous Type is an amalgam of contrasts: lush, percussive undercurrents fuled by Dave's bass lines and Steve's drums, support contrasting chords and melodies from Steve's guitar. Over-all, the swirling triaphony is counterpointed by Damon's sonic assaults.
Jesus christ, I hate these things. I understand why they're there... But, god damn.

I fear the day when I will be forced to write one of those things about my own music (or have one written for me).
posted by sparkletone at 7:59 PM on December 8, 2006


Hey, as a musician, I say listen to what the sound man has to say. (Yes, we have a sound guy and a sound board the size of a small city at our church.)

I have always made it a policy to be nice to and make friends with the sound man (we have had a few over the years.) It's amazing how I always seem to get what I want soundwise!

And yes the majority of sound guys are definitely, shall we say, "selfconfident." (Our present one is humble as can be but he a) has a master's degree in sound and b) is originally from Korea, which apparently does make a difference.)
posted by konolia at 8:00 PM on December 8, 2006


THANKS FOR THE ADD!! CYA!

Music.Metafilter.com: Because it's not myspace
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:38 PM on December 8, 2006


dear mr sound guy

it could be worse ... you could be recording these bands in your home studio

also, if you were really, really good you'd get to work with real professional bands at real professional venues instead of bitching about semi-pros ... (just ask my best friend)

as long as they're not personally hassling you, you're getting paid for it, so lighten up ... and even if they are ... well, it's not as bad as working all night at a gas station or a motel

(also, i don't think you're working with many metal bands ... they tend to be pretty disciplined about their stuff)

bye bye
posted by pyramid termite at 8:55 PM on December 8, 2006


My brother used to run sound at Trees and the Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas, and was quite good at it. He was also in his own working band in town, and as such had a view from both sides. I would hang out with him sometimes, not really understanding what he was doing, but I can definitely say that there were accomodating bands and bands who had no idea what they were doing - sound-guy wise. Guess who got bitched-out by the manager when a band sounded like shit, though.

I just had my premiere venue show with my band this week, and we all made a point to be as polite and cool to the sound girl as we could. Still, at the end of the night, she avoided any and all pleasantries from us with a very curt, cold shoulder. After having read this list, I get it. We talked too much between songs (even our friends made a point about this), and we constantly adjusted our own volume levels from song to song. We assumed that this made things easier for her, but now I know better, and I'm happy to know it.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 PM on December 8, 2006


I've worked on both sides of that line, and I thought the list was pretty damn accurate. I would never have posted something like that in a club I worked at, as I didn't want people actively hating my guts, but damn if it wasn't going through my head. One thing I can tell you about live sound in a college town is there's no shortage of dead-from-the-neck-up 20 year olds who think being in a band just requires some Goodwill clothes and a girlfriend with a van.

Now that I'm more often on the stage side, I go out of my way to make the sound guy's life more livable, because in the end, he can fuck you in the ass, if he feels like it. Tip him, thank him, and let him get his goddam levels. What's so hard about that? Plenty, let me tell you, from what I've seen.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:19 PM on December 8, 2006


"So how many girls get all weak in the knees thinking about The Sound Guy?"

Couldn't tell you anything about "how many", but I know of one who
married him.
posted by Clay201 at 9:19 PM on December 8, 2006


"1. Everybody's Myspace page sucks.
2. All sound-guy's are pricks.
3. All musician's are pretentious ego maniacs
4. All stereotypes are self-fullfilled"


All grocer's apostrophe's.
posted by Eideteker at 11:48 PM on December 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


I don't know about the sound-guy-related parts of the list, but I pretty much agreed with the rest. ESPECIALLY number one. Bands talk way too damn much, mostly out of nervousness.

The only thing I miss about my hardcore sXe youth is being at shows where it was socially appropriate--if not expected--to scream "SHUT UP AND PLAY!" at the slightest hint of stage banter.

Hmm. Maybe I'll start doing that anyway. I'm going to see The Black Keys on Tuesday...I'll let you know how it goes. Heh.
posted by Ian A.T. at 2:23 AM on December 9, 2006


All grocer's apostrophe's.

Not all; the apostrophe in #1 is correct. #2 and #3 are wrong.
Bob's Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:15 AM on December 9, 2006


Of course, if you don't get it right at the soundcheck, you can wait until the middle of the gig to sort everything out, then headbutt the soundman and hit him with a mic stand when he complains.
posted by jack_mo at 6:22 AM on December 9, 2006


I just played a show last night, and the sound fucking sucked.

And I mean, sucked.</b

We're a five piece bluegrass group. We need 9 microphones (which shouldn't be 'insanely complicated' for any sound guy who's got his shit together. Homeboy seemed to think I was asking him to defuse a bomb.)

We did our absolute best, and were super nice to the sound guy, and did everything he told us to do. We tuned before the show and even used a condensor mic for two of the instruments and two of the voices so the mixing would be on us rather than him.

He made my fiddle sound like a cat in a garbage disposal. It was so hot that if I touched a string with very tip of my finger the fucking room jumped.

After the show I wanted to punch him in the face. But I was nice, because he works at a shitty bar in Michigan and I don't. Maybe he doesn't know what the hell he's doing. I dunno. But the sound guy is really the most important member of the band.

Next time we're all crowding around the condensor mic and he can cool off at the bar and stay the hell away from the board. I'll buy his drinks for him.

posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:58 AM on December 9, 2006


oops. heh.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:59 AM on December 9, 2006


gcbv writes "Funnily enough, the link to the soundguy's band gives us insight into how much HIS BAND sucks. (and my typing sucks)"

Jesus fucking Christ that band sucks.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:13 AM on December 9, 2006


The post was lame, but the thread was worth it for Bob's Quick Guide to Apostrophes, You Idiots.

And I'm glad to see that it was already pointed out that MySpace sucks. I can go about my day and have my tea now.

(You kids, my lawn, etc.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:10 AM on December 9, 2006


I did see that issue of Metal Edge magazine you got that pose from though…

Hahahahaha!
posted by SisterHavana at 8:44 AM on December 9, 2006


Worth reading as a follow up: 39 Annoying things bands do from the Creepy Crawl in St. Louis, MO.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:51 AM on December 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Like many other people on this thread, I've been on both sides of the argument.

1. He's right about pretty well everything. The mic technique is a particular gripe of mine.... near.... FAR.... near.... FAR... just spend 5 minutes watching an Iggy Pop concert, you'll get the idea.

2. Please turn down on stage. About four years ago I went to see Bill Laswell's Massacre at the Knitting Factory. Laswell generally has good musical taste but is a poor producer IMHO... in this case, the band was astonishingly, overpoweringly, abusively loud. I made my way, pretty angry to the sound board... "HEY! Can you turn it DOWN?" The sound guy shakes his head and points to the board: all the levels were *off*. He leans over to me and says, "See those huge amps on stage?" I felt chastened -- though, I make a point of thanking the sound guy in well-mixed shows and I already knew him.

3. That said, I've seen some good shows mangled by a poor sound tech. I walked out of an Indian classical music show with a famous sitarist that was plagued by feedback. It was in Alice Tully Hall and mostly empty -- the producer was right there, looking very morose, he did give us our money back (which was nice) but claimed that the sounds we heard were part of the music (even the sitar player had politely complained about the feedback from on stage). Micing sitars and similar live resonant instruments is quite hard BUT you know what you're getting into before you start and there isn't anything the musician can do "wrong" (and every Indian classical musician I've seen has been extremely professional).

I've had to walk up to the sound person at shows, point to the lead singer, and say, "He's actually singing the vocals, not the cute girl: do you think you could turn his mic on?"

4. The video jack_mo posts does NOT show a band assaulting the sound man. If you watch, some guy gets up on stage, starts arguing with the lead singer (already a no-no), then suddenly head butts him really hard. Perhaps words were exchanged; but the violence is out of the blue. No wonder someone breaks a guitar over him. The accompanying text claims that this guy is NOT even the sound man. The band actually deals with it with humour and good cheer, right on!

5. The soundman's band (linked to off his myspace page) isn't my sort of thing but isn't nearly as dreadful as some here are claiming. They might also be entertaining live. I've seen much much worse bands than that... and at least they probably aren't too loud. :-D
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:09 AM on December 9, 2006


We're a five piece bluegrass group. We need 9 microphones

a five-piece bluegrass group should have 1 condenser mic.
posted by snofoam at 9:34 AM on December 9, 2006


4. The video jack_mo posts does NOT show a band assaulting the sound man. If you watch, some guy gets up on stage, starts arguing with the lead singer (already a no-no), then suddenly head butts him really hard. Perhaps words were exchanged; but the violence is out of the blue. No wonder someone breaks a guitar over him. The accompanying text claims that this guy is NOT even the sound man. The band actually deals with it with humour and good cheer, right on!

That's not 'accompanying text', that's a comment from some random. The accompanying text (click more to the right of the video) explains the situation, and I was mailed a link to it by a friend of the band who told the same story...
posted by jack_mo at 9:40 AM on December 9, 2006


Sounds like a typical sysadmin.

strawberryviagra speaks my mind.

*dons EMAIL IS NOT FTP hoodie*
posted by everichon at 10:06 AM on December 9, 2006


I don't know. I mean, he's a sound guy. (Not that there is anything wrong with that, some of my best friends are 43 and still single.)

What I mean is that while some of his peeves are valid and are overlooked by many performers, the rant as a whole outlines his interests as a FoH engineer - performing musicians have other interests, and we need to work together to make the evening work.

(And FWIW, I love talking singers as long as they're funny or interesting as opposed to the same old adolescent band banter, I am slightly paranoid about tuning and retune my guitars often, I wrap my cables onstage because I paid for them and I want them to last for a while and I don't want to do the same job a second time offstage, and I usually turn my amp up just a little after soundcheck, because I am a dick like that. That said, singers really should know how to use a mic, and the cupping-the-ball thing is atrocious.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:13 AM on December 9, 2006


snofoam we're switching to that setup.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:01 PM on December 9, 2006


Have you tried it before, B_B? It depends on the size of the venue, of course, but condenser mics (that are not sucking in the massive SPLs of a drum kit) + some venues + an engineer that's only used to your basic rock band = not always the best combination. Unless you like your feedback shrill and ear drum shattering, of course. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:38 PM on December 9, 2006


jack_mo: the best part of that video is that the other guitar player keeps going-- never stop the show!
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:06 PM on December 9, 2006


Ah, the Elbow Room. That's the local "weirdo" bar, about half an hour from my place. It's where Paul Velat or Orange Goblin plays, rather than the Blind Pig, which is Ann Arbor's rock club. I know Damon, the soundguy, through vague professional contact (my column covers rock around here, though it hasn't run the last couple months), and he's the classic nice-guy/shitty-band combo. Though I'll say that The Jealous Type is much better live, and does sound pretty good (they just have boring, meandering post-grunge tunes about half the time— the other half of their songs sound like The Beatings, and are OK).
I also doubt that he's the origin of this list; I've seen similar things before. The list is pretty dead-on, even though I always feel like an old man saying, "Turn it down!" This is also the club where when I saw Jucifer, they were loud enough that they collapsed an old coal chute that no one knew was in the building, sending a huge black plume through the club. That was kinda cool.
Another set of decent advice is the booking rules, though both the booking rules and the sound rules are violated with alarming frequency. The sets do, almost uniformly, go on too long. And now that Leighton isn't doing as much of the booking, the weird quotient has gone down and the boring emo quotient has gone way, way up.
posted by klangklangston at 6:22 AM on December 10, 2006


Another set of decent advice is the booking rules

hmmm ... sets no longer than 30 minutes? ... and then people wonder why there's a shortage of bands that can fill a cd with decent tunes
posted by pyramid termite at 4:57 PM on December 10, 2006


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