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Author Topic: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?  (Read 15055 times)

Brian Abington

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Hey guys,

I'm new here. I'm originally from the Omaha area and recently moved to the Spokane Washington area. I have over 20 years of experience in a Church volunteer FOH positions, and freelance show production work.

I thought the question of "What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?" would be a good ice breaker.

For myself, some of my friends in Omaha had all played in very well known bands over the years and came together to form a new band.

Their first show was in the small bar attached to the Ranch Bowl in Omaha. They asked me to run sound for them since the RB did not provide techs for the bar.

The bar had a small sound system consisting of a 16 ch mixer 2 speakers, 2 monitors, and a really old amp that was sooo full of dust bunnies that you could have made a rabbit from fuzz I pulled out of the openings on the back of the amp.

The first act was an acoustic duet, and the second was an acoustic solo act. Nothing to complicated.

It was a small enough room with only about 100 people that all I put mics on were the acoustic guitars of their 2 opening acts because they didn't bring an amp and I didn't have a direct box with me.

When when my friends band played I put the kick drum in the monitor for the drummer. That was all that was needed beyond the vocals because the bass and guitar amps were loud enough to be heard over the drums.

Into their first song the super dusty amp needing to finally exert itself to be loud started over heating, the cliping indicator kept flashing, and John sounded like he was singing with a kazoo in his mouth. Then the amp started to go into thermal protection and shut off.

I had the gains all the way down, and decent levels coming from the board. But there was nothing I could do about it. I told the band what was happening between songs but the crowd didn't know what was happening.

Everybody was staring at me because they thought I was the reason it sounded like crap and not the facilities poorly maintained equipment.

I sat on the floor behind the mix board the rest of the show.
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frank kayser

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 07:10:42 am »

We walked into a bar like that the other night - fortunately we brought our own stuff.

During setup, my friend called me over saying he had not seen anything like this outside a shop - OLD jbl 2x18 cab, top speaker teh dust cap was gone, the cone disconnected from the burned voice coil.  It looked like the cabs hadn't been used in years - just there taking up space on the dance floor, and attempting to impress, I guess.

They also had some old Cerwin Vegas on the wall, and some old Peaveys as well.  This place has been there since I was a kid, 40 yrs ago.  One could imagine...

As far as stupid, well most of what I do - but specifically, last Sat had some brain fade and plugged the IPOD into the INSERTs rather than the inputs - all I got was a woeful, pitiful low-level muffled sound out of the aux1 monitors - nothing out of the main - ran around looking at everything.  Of course, since I plugged the IPOD into the channel strips, I also inadvertantly disconnected two channels of DI - No signal, of course,  WTF? changed out pristine DI boxes with better ones and still nothing.  Of course, some of the DIs worked, so that was confusing.  10 min later, I had that D'oh! moment...

And we lived happily ever after...
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Chris Hindle

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 08:31:25 am »

Doing monitors for a BOTB about 25 years ago.
shared drums and guitar amps. Bring yer axe and keys.
2nd or 3rd group changeover, and this little 8 year old is poking around the drum kit. Tell him to bug off. 2 minutes later, he's sitting on the throne. Tell him to bug off.
Guitar dude starts to play a riff, again I tell the kid to bug off.
Rest of the band takes the stage, and now the little bugger is whaling away on the kit like he has been doing it all his life.
Turns out he HAS been doing it all his life. Pretty good at it too! He was able to play the entire set staring at me with daggers in his eyes, and not missing a beat.
Lesson learned ? Be carefull what you say at a gig. You may be surprised to see who's paying the tab.
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Jared Bartimus

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 01:30:54 pm »

frank kayser wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 06:10

As far as stupid, well most of what I do - but specifically, last Sat had some brain fade and plugged the IPOD into the INSERTs rather than the inputs


In my case it was plugging into the L/R output inserts instead of control room out for monitoring on my laptop but fortunately that was near the beginning of practice.
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Bennett Prescott

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 02:55:26 pm »

Most of my embarrassing experiences are nightmares, literally. Had one last night that I was mixing some high profile event with a lot of spoken word in between music acts. I set up the system, Midas Pro 6 at FOH, and we did a check. For some reason whoever was in charge was all over my back the whole time, asking if I'd done this and that... I kept assuring them that I had certainly done that and was more than ready for their event. I was also under staffed, the only audio guy on the show, and my mix position was buried deep in the audience.

Anyway, we finish the run through and prep for the show. Show opens with an announcement by some dignitary, and I realize I haven't prepared... at all! Channel gains aren't set, no EQ or high pass, and I have nowhere near enough gain before feedback. Somehow there also doesn't seem to be any connection between my channel gain and the feedback that keeps happening, and people in the audience are starting to mutter to themselves about the audio. Another announcer steps up and I can't find her mic at all, it must be on some other layer, and I've covered up the banking buttons with a script or something. Every time I move it to try and find them I somehow just cover them up again, can't find them anywhere on the board. So I panic, and go into my patching, and try and patch her channel (which I can see on the screen) to the fader right next to the guy who was just speaking. Somehow I manage to delete my whole patch, inputs and outputs... dead air.

This is when I realize that the whole time I've actually been mixing on some kind of sidecar, and the actual desk is on the other side of the audience. When I killed my patch I also killed the assignments that make the sidecar work, so I have no control whatsoever any more. I'm going to have to get out of the row, packed with people, across the aisle, and into the other audience section to get to the main desk... and still there's dead air.

Just as I'm starting to think I've finally totally fucked my career I get that funny feeling like this isn't real, and I might be able to just wake up. This isn't my show, it never was and never will be, I can just wake up.

So I fucking did!
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Art Welter

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 04:51:52 pm »

Bennett Prescott wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 12:55


Just as I'm starting to think I've finally totally fucked my career I get that funny feeling like this isn't real, and I might be able to just wake up. This isn't my show, it never was and never will be, I can just wake up.

So I fucking did!


Did a show that required leaving for the gig at something like 4 AM.

After the opening band started, about 9pm that night, I turned the mix over to their band engineer.

I then fell asleep in my chair, but awoke because the sound had changed quite a bit.

The band engineer was looking at me, and pointing to the board, which had no lights on.

I had kicked the power supply switch off while sleeping Embarassed .

Fortunately, all it took was turning the switch back on, but I forgot to mute the crossover before turning on, so we got to hear a big turn on thump to match the turn off thump that had happened a few seconds before.

One other embarrassing moment came on the last night of a mini tour, I fell asleep at the console, dreaming of floating through islands.

Turns out the "islands" were round tables in the ballroom.

I awoke from the dream when I heard my name, the artist had said thanks to me over the PA for doing a great job on the tour Laughing .

Crimson and Clover, over and over...

Art Welter

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Brian Abington

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 06:29:38 pm »

Art thats really funny.
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Charlie Zureki

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2011, 10:46:58 pm »

  Many years ago... I was a working a Tour through my hometown (at the time) of Houston.  I left the Coloseum to go to my home to relax, shower, change clothes, etc... before the Show.

 I came back to the Coloseum about "doors", didn't have my Laminate, couldn't remember the Venue Manager's name, the security guards were different from when I had left earlier, and couldn't page any of the crew...because I didn't have their pager numbers with me.

 The security guards weren't buying my story and didn't seem to put much effort into finding anyone that I'd named to vouch for me.

  Finally, I found an opening and started into the Venue...with security guards chasing after me.  It almost became physical with the guards, just as the road crew, venue techs and promotion people stepped up to vouch for me. Embarassed  Twisted Evil

 Hammer

 
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Dan Johnson

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2011, 11:56:21 pm »

Bennett Prescott wrote on Wed, 26 January 2011 13:55

Most of my embarrassing experiences are nightmares, literally.

I'm right there with you Bennett.  I have a recurring embarrassing experience where it's showtime and the PA is only about 20% set up and I'm scrambling just to get something workable going.
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Ben Johnson

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2011, 03:31:27 am »

I did a gig about 7 years ago for Judy Tanuda (late 80s and 90s comedian).  She gave me a cd of tracks, and I was dreading finding the right times to run them with no one cueing me ("When I say '..and Cher gave me this dress', you play track 6," etc.)

That actually turned out to be pretty easy, what was rough was that the CD started having a little stutter when I'd start the track, just a moment and then it'd continue properly.  She gave me a funny look but just went on.

That happened maybe twice, then it failed completely.  ERR 07 or something similar on the player, and it stopped working.  It kinda tripped her up, so she stopped and asked about it.  Approximate quote, "Wait, what happened to the music?  BTW everyone, this my sound guy Ben who's been helping me today, and been really great.  Ben, what happened to the (whichever) clip?"  There's a pause as 300-500 people turn to look at me. "Um, the player froze completely."  And she just says "Oh, okay," and continues on.

I've been acknowledged by performers before, but usually not while semi-panicking because something's not working.  It's _way_ more attention than I wanted right then.

Habit now is that if the artist/client only carries 1 copy of the CD (or whatever media, but particularly CD), even if it plays flawlessly in rehearsal, copy it and have the backup cued and ready.  Seems obvious, I know.

Ben
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Dave Slater

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2011, 01:19:24 pm »

Most embarrassing moment in audio would have to be doing panto a few years ago

Let me set the scene...

The Panto is Peter Pan and we've just got to the bit where Captain Hook and his crew have found Peter Pans hideout and are about to enter through a door in a tree trunk

Now the problem is Hook always starts talking fractionally before the door is opened as if he's in mid sentence

Now I've missed the very start of his line for the last couple of shows and am determined not to miss it this time so I slightly pre-empt the cue

Unfortunately this time Captain Hook is still racing back from his dressing room after being caught short between scenes

He gets to behind the door and all we heard out front was "SHIT! I've forgot me hook!"

Of course there was deathly silence throughout the theatre as half the audience were parents

Then cutting through this cavernous silence was this lone voice from a little girl... "Mummy, Hook said shit!"

If the ground could have opened up right there...
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Jordan Wolf

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2011, 07:08:59 pm »

Dave,

I make sure that every person I wire up gets the riot act: always, always, always assume that the audience can hear everything you say.  All of the show's higher ups are aware of this, too, so if something does slip out, the hammer doesn't fall [completely] on me.
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Ben Lawrence

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2011, 09:28:09 pm »

I have a few but this one makes the top 5 for sure. Quite some time ago in my first year or two in sound reinforcement. I was working in a large ballroom that had air walls to split it up for separate functions. Well The room was split and I was testing the single podium microphone for the next event in front of the house guys moving tables and chairs around. I was in pretty tight with all of them so began my usual antics (at the time) on the mic test. I believe it started out with test one toe but quickly went from test to testes somewhere in there. Long story short I forgot to hit the room matrix up before the test and was made aware by a guy in a suit rushing in the room with a look of horror on his face stating. " We are in a meeting and are hearing every word of this". That was the first and last time that ever happened.

Geri O'Neil

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2011, 01:30:18 am »

I've had two moments that stick out in my mind...

One was a Miss (whatever county we were in) pageant. Me, FOH, stage manager, lighting, followspots, and the pageant director (a woman, of course) were on clear-coms. During the pageant, we saw that the director had left her headsets, so we kinda started, well, being guys on headsets during a pageant. We didn't see her get back on the headset, and that was about the time I made the world-famous comment "yeah, she (the contestant at the moment) sure puts the 'cunt' back in 'country'". That's when we heard "I'M LISTENING TO THIS!!" from the director. Oops. She was waay better about it than we deserved and for the next 11 years, I asked her "You sure you don't want a headset this year?". "Noooo, I can manage without it, thank you very much!".

The second one was during a day-before load-in for a Willie Nelson concert outdoors. The upstage lighting truss was assembled on the stage, then needed to be handed off the deck to the Genies. The lighting guys had the hands hop on to the ground to catch the ends of the truss. One guy said he couldn't jump. "Ahhh, go ahead, be brave, don't be skeered, yer buddies did it, so can you!". The guy said "OKAY, FINE!", proceeded to remove his wooden leg, sat down on the edge of the stage, and got on the ground.

I took him to lunch later and bought him a steak in hopes of redeeming myself.... Very Happy

Geri O
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Art Welter

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2011, 01:31:26 pm »

The mention of Willie Nelson made remember another  embarrassing moment.

His sound man in the 1980s had an ongoing “war” going on with the announcer/ production manager at the Minnesota State Fair, which they opened with a two day stint for years and years.

The sound man would do things like putting a Harmonizer on the announcers voice, pitch him up an octave with none of his actual voice in the mix, making him sound like Donald Duck.

When we took over the sound contract, we were required to have a small mixer which would directly interface with our PA system, so the announcer could not be sabotaged.

All went went well the first day, Willie’s engineer had no way to mess with the  announcer. The second night, after Willie’s show, the announcer as usual said “Ladies and gentleman, the Minnesota State Fair Fireworks !”

The fireworks were set to music, which was on a cassette I had carefully cued up to start immediately upon the announcement.

I hit “play”, no music, no meter movement, just rolling silence. The band engineer had run the cassette  to near the end, past the recording, requiring it to be rewound.

Don’t remember whether it took 30 seconds or a minute to rewind, but with about 20,000 people waiting to see the fireworks, it seemed like forever  Shocked .

Art Welter
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Scott Smith

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2011, 08:57:34 am »

A couple minor embarrassing moments, both at a large outdoor city event:

First was playing a soundtrack with the cd player tempo knob accidentally slid all the way to the slowest position... the poor young girl sang like a trooper all the way through to the wrong speed.

The other was doing this big city event mixing from side stage behind a stack of subs and tops.  It was a "B" level national act singing to soundtracks as well, and it was discovered that the bass was causing the rack CD player to skip badly (fortunately before the headliner came on).  Quickly I found a boom-box, and set it on a pillow to play the sound tracks.  The promoter gave me a look I still remember... but was happy to see the show go on without any further problems. Shocked
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Jason Lavoie

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2011, 09:57:15 pm »

for me it was when I was tossing the director's "warmup" (cassette) tape back to him. and I accidentally clipped a bench on the way by, causing the casette to explode and send the tiny reels of tape unspooling towards him.
the worst part is that although none of us were fond of the content of that tape, I still shouldn't have laughed after the streams of tape headed in his direction!
ahh, those were the days..

Jason
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Bill Burford

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Re: What is your most embarrassing experience you have ever had in Audio?
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2011, 12:21:08 am »

I show up for a tour.... filling in for some guy they were firing.
this was just the final leg (3 or 4 dates) and an after party in NYC.
anyhow,
I didn't know this but the band and the road-manager were promised that I had 2 paddles and and a full senheisser system with the fanny packs (band had the moulded ears already).

here's the kicker: they didn't need this the first show.. the first show was the show where I was to "take over" and they were still using the other guys shure system.
I was going into this thinking the actual band members owned the shure system.

ok, we go to the next show.. this is a supporting act btw.  
there is no sound-check.. nothing.. Luckily its a Midas because I don't even have a memory card yet.. the lead singers are asking me for my senheisers and paddles.
well-- the road manager is sort of a big-wig even for this supporting role.. the way he said it and the way he looked at me:
"You'RE KIDDING ME??????? OH FUCK ME! " HE punched the wall right besides me..
and this is the FIRST I have heard about this and I just rode hundreds and hundreds of miles from my comfy bed I just wanted to hide in....
I literally went to the headliner's FOH guy and the guy this was even more embarassing.. I asked him if I could borrow his senheissers.. HA HA HA
(I felt terrible for my guys)---> horrible career move I know.
so anyways.. the head engineer LET ME HAVE EM!!!!
he did this POST SOUND CHECK for a freaking superstar.
can you believe this?  Its true.  No, this isn't a dream.  I never got to wake up.  The embarassment didn't go away for the entire tour and I felt like I could have rung someones neck.
well.. as Cable guy says  : Git er done..
I just never really figured out quite how that could have happened to me like that or what I should have done about it?
Sabotage like a MO-FO.  I am so lucky the headliners were able to patch everything back in to their rig so fast!!!!  
(not to mention wipe off the sweat, rip off tape, they were on a completely separate system.. our foh board ran into their's but.. you get the picture..)
I think the stress and embarrassment of those times have never even been approached for me. . . even when I do something really stupid: its like " WHO CARES!!!!! " its nothing like that tour..
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