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A tough but amazing day

A couple weeks ago I had a gig at the local theatre I work at. I showed up at the call time without any real knowledge of what was going on except for the band name. When I arrived, the band had already been there for an hour or two and were completely set up. I don't like being behind the ball when it comes to gigs, so I was instantly a little frustrated that my call time was not properly adjusted for the band arrival. Everyone being so nice, I couldn't be mad about anything and just had to forge ahead. I grab the specs, input list, stage plot, output list, etc and start getting to work. Having a patch guy on the gig helped out tremendously. I started with the input list. This theatre is zone based, so patching is extremely important and time consuming compared to a standard splitter system. After sorting the input list and handing it off to our patch tech, I started working on my console and workspace. This band has 6 stereo wireless mixes, 4 wired stereo mixes, 2 wedge mixes, and a couple reverbs, so thats 12 + 8 + 2 + 2 = 24 console outputs. I have a PM5D so that means this console is completely full to it's maximum. I placed the wedge mixes, patched all the outboard IEM mixes and got into labeling everything in the console. 48 inputs and 24 outputs takes a while to label, patch and place where I want it on the console, so while the patch guy was wiring up the stage, I click clacked away at the keyboard. At the same time our FOH tech built the FOH console to meet the needs of the mix engineer for the band. All this while under the gun of the clock because door time was approaching somewhat quickly. I didn't get a chance with everyone in the band to go over what each person wanted, so I took an educated guess. This is an example directly from my book that works most of the time. Having so many mixes, I built a standard base mix. Keeping all the channels muted, I took the drum channels in every IEM mix to -20 and panned them in all mixes as if it was being seen by the drummer. Then I took all the instruments in all IEM mixes also to -20. Then all the vocals to all IEM mixes to -10. Then I went back to each individual mix and turned that persons instrument to -10 and vocal to 0. I didn't pan any of the instruments because that can get super personal to the musician and that can wait. At that point I was ready to get a band on stage to start sound check. With all the band members there, I went to center stage and in a loud clear voice said " Hello everyone, my name is Mike and I will be your monitor engineer for the shows today. I will be stationed stage right right over there. There are a whole lot of you on stage with a whole lot of mixes, so I have a plan to make sound check go smooth and easy for everyone. I have started out with a basic mix for everyone with your instrument louder (I got a lot of smiles and good ideas). We will start with drums, raise your hand and point up or down depending on the volume of that instrument, I will work my way clockwise around the stage to make sure I get to everyone. If you don't raise your hand you are fine." I got back to my console and got on the talkback and said "I have my talkback volume at a reasonable volume so adjust your pack as needed." and started with Kick. I got the gain and basic EQ on both kick channels and unmuted them, starting with the drummer I got him sorted and went clockwise from there around the stage. Then Snare, hat, etc etc etc until we got done. It probably took about 30 minutes to get through all 48 inputs, but got through it we did. Even though I've used this technique and know it works, even I was shocked at how few changes from my template I had to make. When that was done, they played a verse and chorus of one of their songs, we made a couple adjustments but all in all, everyone was good to go. Got the openers set and had 2 amazing shows with the band and 2 openers. I'm writing this as an example of what could have been a really tough day, but going step by step and having a plan made it a day to remember (No, that's not the band) and write about. I hope you take this blog and learn something, or reaffirm your workflow. Untill next time, stay loud and proud.

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