For five months, the band and I were preparing for this show. We knew it could have been our last together, so we wanted to make it count. Despite all of the planning, the one thing we couldn’t get right was the weather.
Some background information- Volcanic Eruptions is a band of people that I have known since elementary school. The members are:
Ryan – Drums, Jason – Bass, Ricky – Guitar, Hallie – Vocals, Miles – Keyboards
When we arrived on location at 7AM, the skies were overcast, but no rain was scheduled for at least a couple of hours. We figured we could at least get the PA system in place and cover it with garbage bags if it started to rain. Less than half an hour after we started to load in, the skies opened up, and we were getting soaked. We did manage to cover what little equipment we had set up by then, but we knew we were going to be way behind schedule.
We waited and waited, and the rain finally let up at around 10AM, which gave us only one hour to completely finish setting up the PA before the opening ceremony. We held off on setting up the monitor rig until the opening ceremony was over, because the ceremony didn’t really need monitors, and we were barely going to have time to setup the FOH PA. We did get what was essential setup in time, and the opening ceremony went off without a hitch.
As soon as the opening ceremony was over, we had to kick into high gear to make sure everything was setup for show time. We still had monitors, lighting, and video waiting to be setup. Some of the crew knew about some things better than others, so I tried to distribute the work as efficiently ad possible. I setup FOH with Skyler, and had Ryan (drummer and DJ partner) setup the monitor equipment. The video screen was assembled by Scott and my father, and Bryce worked on setting up the lighting rig. I went around and checked all of the wiring when the other guys were done. They did a pretty good job. The entire PA and lighting rig was setup before the first act went on, which was a huge relief for me. We even managed to setup the video screen! I was becoming very concerned that we would have to raise the lighting rig after the first act, and that would take time away from testing, because it would have meant moving the drum kit out of the way. The rush to get all of the band’s gear on stage was intense, but everything went flawlessly.
We were able to get in a solid line and sound check in before the Jazz group (Take 4) took the stage, and take 4 was fantastic. I was very comfortable mixing their set because the soundcheck was so good, I barely had anything to do during the show. The only thing I really had to pay attention to was the sax mics. We didn’t have clip on mics, and Max and Miles have a tendency to walk away from their mics… I actually stepped away from the console for a few songs and went to work on the fog and video system while Ryan mixed the Jazz group. That gave him the opportunity to make any final adjustments to his drums before Volcanic Eruptions went on.
With Take 4’s set over, it was time for final preparation for Volcanic Eruptions’s set. At this point in the day, I had the video rig complete, and all of the network MIDI was working perfectly. I took some time to test all of the new things (particularly controlling the fog machines and Resolume over a network), but actually ended up having time to eat a burger before VE went on. The guys did a quick jam for final tweaks, but everything was ready. All that was left to do was wait until 8PM.
It’s unfortunate that the recording of the show is not usable. Maybe in the future there will be some technology to take audio that was recorded to hot and repair all of the clipping. I am holding onto the recordings on the off chance that that happens, but am unfortunately unable to release the recordings. Maybe if I had just taken thirty seconds to listen to the recording during sound check, I would have heard the issue. The thing is, none of the meters were clipping, or even close to it, so I have no idea what was clipping. While I am disappointed that the recording of the band’s last show is bad, I am happy that there are so many pictures of it. Other than the recording issue, the only issue we ran into during the show was a problem with the Jason’s wireless system. We switched him to a cable and he was back up and running in between the first and second song. The video worked perfectly, and the lighting was almost perfect. For some reason the laser unit didn’t work, and the fog was constantly being blown offstage by the breeze, but those issues were definitely manageable.
The original set list included a handful of jams, but the jams were cut during the show to make sure the set did not have to finish after the luminary ceremony. An intermission was planned, but that was cut too. I forget how long the band played for, but I think it was about an hour. Once the set ended, we all participated in the silent lap, and started takedown.
Due to the amount of equipment we had, takedown and loadout took a good deal longer than usual. Thankfully, we had enough hands to make the work relatively easy. We ended up leaving a hand truck and some wood under the stage overnight, and picked it up the next day, because we ran out of truck space on the way home.
Despite a few technical difficulties and nature working against us, we managed to pull off a respectable final performance. We had a good run, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. This band gave me the opportunities to grow as a sound engineer, and a platform to test new ideas and technology. Anything I do in the future, is because of these guys, and the music teacher at my elementary school, Mr. White, who gave me my start in live sound and guidance when I needed it most.