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Author Topic: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound  (Read 8083 times)

jesseweiss

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #10 on: May 30, 2017, 10:15:06 am »

When it comes to acoustic guitars I always prepare a mic for it even if it "has a great DI" builtin.

And as the previous poster said; If I'm doing this for free it is on my terms or bring your own guy.

Next week I'm doing a paid festival gig and one band wants to give me the main output from their own mixer that they will have on stage with them and I've told them that they are on their own as I will lose all control, more or less, and can't take any responsibility for gear that I don't provide myself.

In response to others, I always maintain a professional attitude in everything I do as I'm a teacher.  I kept calm and tried to work with her until she at least gave up complaining. I wasn't in charge, so didn't feel I had the authority to do much (the pastor was off doing other things as this was a community event outside a church).  We also had an issue with the 2nd act (a local School of Rock, but it turns out not the one with kids from in the community) was going long so I gave them a stop time.  The owner of the school complained (as did some of the parents) as we started late (partly from rain and partly the first performer mentioned above) and we had not choice but for everyone to cut down.  So they asked for 1 last song, I said sure.  They decided to do Roundabout (you kidding me) straight into Long Time by Boston.  That's 20 minutes of music.  The pastor did talk to them and they won't be asked back, plus a performer 2 sets later (after us) and a parent in the community planned on emailing her as well. It never ceases to amaze me how self centered people are.

Back to Robert's response, excellent idea. I had some AT2020's with me that I could have just plugged in and I even had a channel setup for them for backup vocals for later.  If she hadn't been chirping in my ear, I might have been able to do that just to demonstrate it was her "stuff" :).

I did feel vindicated by the compliments on the sound I got from the small crowd watching the SOR kids, us, and the duo after us.
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jesseweiss

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2017, 10:19:03 am »

I had a whole bunch of snark written but couldn't bring myself to hit the post button...

We are expected to be deferential to artists no matter how obviously their shit is fucked up.  You will have to demonstrate that it's not your console input, mic cable, sub snake, main snake, drive snake, DI box, or anything else.  Any you'll have to do all this without touching *anything* belonging to the artist or artist's stage setup.  The artist can have dead batteries, defective cords, FUBAR processing, missing all the strings on the guitar... and it is STILL YOUR SHIT THAT'S THE PROBLEM.

It's a particularly satisfying flavor of schadenfreude to expose these egotistical fucktwits in front of their peers and doing it with a smile on your face.

Tim, it definitely surprised me as I've been a part time "working" musician for over 30 years and while I know people can be picky about their "stuff" I had never seen someone who wouldn't listen to anything.

Now it's quite possible that through other systems other board operators could get her stuff sounding better, but given her performance (just singing folks songs (flat to boot) with a guitar and vocal harmonizer) I'm guessing she's used to smaller sound systems that produce no low end so she "boosts" it on her pedal setup.

One of my guitarists, speaking of snarky, said her equipment was probably from the 80's like her hair do, when she probably peaked as an artist (not to her of course). Ouch!

This seemed to be the offending pedal, Electro-Harmonix Micro POG Polyphonic Octave Generator Pedal. So she couldn't figure out to cut the subharmonic on the pedal if all she could hear was low end?
« Last Edit: May 30, 2017, 10:23:14 am by jesseweiss »
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2017, 11:34:34 am »

There are a couple of things that need to be addressed before ANY event that often are overlooked.

First off, is the order of authority.  There MUST be a stage manager assigned that decided when an act gets on and off the stage. For smaller events, the person doing that job may have many other tasks at hand. If the assigned stage manager leaves, then another must be there to take their place so that someone is left in charge and can keep things rolling.

Second, it must be decided how acts may be cut in the event of time over-runs.  Some events it is ok if the opening act runs a little long. But for events with a set end time, making sure the headliner hits the stage as scheduled is of utmost importance. If the opening act has problems with their setup, then they lose performance time, not the headliner!

One thing to remember.  Running sound for your own band is hard.  Running sound for someone you have never worked with before is even harder!  You've got to know your gear inside and out.  If you're trying to figure it out while they are sitting there staring at you, it's not going to end well.
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Brian Jojade

Alec Spence

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2017, 11:44:20 am »

"Could you just humour me for a moment and try" can be the best way of prefixing "removing [your crap] from the signal chain", suffixed by the apologetic "*just* in case it might be causing a problem".

Remember, this game is 90% people skills....

The father was the original guitar player for a long time in a group with a number of number one hits while he was a member. I have worked with him a bunch of times. He insisted it wasnt the battery.
Old pros can be the worst, with the shonkiest kit too...   :(
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2017, 12:27:56 pm »

From a troubleshooting perspective, never assume ANYTHING is good.  Start with the stupid stuff to eliminate it.  Batteries, cables, pedals . . .

I've worked with good and bad stage managers.  What a difference!  The good ones don't say one more song ( the entire Dylan medley ), but five more minutes.

I had one that was so bad, he let all the fill groups at the festival go long, so the headliner, realizing they weren't going to have any time to play, left.  There was a 10pm hard cutoff at the venue.
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Tim Weaver

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #15 on: May 30, 2017, 01:57:45 pm »

From a troubleshooting perspective, never assume ANYTHING is good.  Start with the stupid stuff to eliminate it.  Batteries, cables, pedals . . .

This. Don't ask, beg, or plead to bypass her pedals. Walk up to the stage and just start troubleshooting. Don't ask, just do. Bring a 1/4" cable, plug it straight from her acoustic to your DI and hit the strings. Problem solved? Great, walk away. They will either fix their stuff or play straight into a DI.

If it doesn't fix the problem take a 58 and plug it into the DI cable and verify that it sounds fine. Replace DI, try again. Don't ask, just do.

9 times out of 10 just bypassing their pedals will fix the problem.


I saw a stage manager one time, in a situation just like this, take the players fishman eq pedal and throw it into a lake. He then gave her a radial proDI and started the show.
Quote
I've worked with good and bad stage managers.  What a difference!  The good ones don't say one more song ( the entire Dylan medley ), but five more minutes.


Also this. A good stage manager is needed to deal with the artist BS and keep the show moving.
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lindsay Dean

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2017, 03:10:46 pm »

++++++1
Mr. Weaver
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Rob Dellwood

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2017, 05:10:02 pm »

So I'm a drummer, not a sound tech, but I run sound for our band and when we play community volunteer stuff (we have several of the same shows a year) I volunteer to bring and run the PA.  Nothing fancy just 2 FOH, subwoofer, 3 monitors, etc... for a variety of types of acts (we're a 4 pc rock band).

The opening act was just a singer with an acoustic guitar.  I'm thinking, awesome, very easy to mix to start the day.  We begin sound check and her guitar sounds like crap.  She's giving me all these directions to boost the highs as high as they can go, etc... to clean up the sound.  The guitar didn't seem to be a typical A/E either. I put a normal low cut on it, and tried to cut here and there to make it sound cleaner. No luck. She kept harping on how long she's been performing and doing sound, blah blah blah (30 years, which is only a little shorter than my band has been together!), and constantly complaining and chirping in my ear about how long it's all taking.

I (along with my guitarist) tell her to cut all her pedals (she has like 3 different pedals which I didn't bother to look at because of time, but none of which were anything special, and a TC Helicon voice thing for harmonies I guess).  After 20 minutes of her complaining about her guitar sound and me telling her it has to be somewhere in her part of the signal chain and not the PA, she realizes she has a pedal that has a subharmonic feature that she has cranked up and she has the highs turned down.  Even after that, the guitar still sounds muddy but she made us 30 minutes behind (which coupled with the second act going 20 minutes long even after being told to stop) meant my band only played like 35 minutes even though we provided and ran sound.

So I'm feeling kind of down on myself about being able to get the guitar to sound better, etc... since I'm relatively new to sound and using our XR18.

The next act is a School of Rock, and they and our band sound great. So at least I feel better about running electric guitars, etc... The last act is an acoustic duo (Cello and Guitar) but I run direct out of their Fishman Loudbox amps and they also sound great.

I've had a few experiences with one guy in the past complaining about his monitor (he's a diva too), but this woman was the first time I experienced someone causing the problem, refusing to listen how to fix it, and complaining and pontificating about her experience the whole time. Yikes!


Seems that was a difficult position to be put in. Sometimes, when there is a vacuum of authority, you have to take over the role of 'stage manager' and do what is needed to keep the event running on schedule. An 'opening act' who thinks she somehow has 'headliner status' and can dictate to you how things are going to go needs to be put in her place. Be polite at first, but next time you get non-cooperation like that, you should simply insist she needs to work with your suggestions to fix the problems, or she is going to lose time or lose her set entirely. Her selfish behavior put the whole event in turmoil and behind schedule.

For multi-band events like this, it would be recommended to have published sheets of paper with the performers' names and set times, along with a large portable clock facing the stage performers. If set times need to be changed due to delays as happened here, then you should advise the remaining bands of their NEW set times and tell them they need to stick to those. A few minutes here and there 'going over' is normal, but 20 minutes is not acceptable.

Congrats on getting through this show and finishing strong! We all encounter situations like this from time to time, and what's important is learning from it and doing better next time.



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James A. Griffin

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2017, 07:05:45 pm »


Also this. A good stage manager is needed to deal with the artist BS and keep the show moving.

Yes.    And in the abscence of a stage manager and and clear instructions from the event sponsor, we often assume the position (of stage manager).     We can't control weather delays but we can control the performers to some extent.     

"Your soundcheck is 20 minutes.   If you run over, it comes out of your set time, not the next band's soundcheck"

They also need to understand up front that if they are allotted 20 minutes, that includes the time it takes to get their gear on stage and adjusted.

Sometimes you have to explain the simple concept of respect.   Respecting other performers on the show and respecting the guy who booked them, set the schedule, and pays them.
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Luke Geis

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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2017, 07:37:20 pm »

I won't be saying much that hasn't already been said, but will any way :)

1. Always be as professional as you can be. While you may have taken the gig pro-bono, you still took the gig. This means that the smile must remain even if it kills you. You are not required to be abused though. If you are being berated, or otherwise belittled and or treated negatively, you can pull the get off my stage card. I have done it before, there is usually no win either way though.

2. When asked what it is I do, I tell people I do sound " yada yada " and in essence I am an adult babysitter. It is my job to get what I want by making the artists think they came to the decision on their own. Artists seem to think that their way of doing things trumps all other opinions, practices and even basic fundamentals of mixing and physics. They don't care, and typically don't want to do anything, unless it is for themselves.  I have never, ever, ever, ever....... heard a musician say that I will do anything you say because you know best and I want what is best for everyone out there who is listening and others on the stage. The mentality of artists is as such, that there is nothing that should interrupt their artistic flow, damn be everything and anyone else. They have found the I in team in other words. So you have to pander to that type of mentality and get from A-Z on your to-do list with psychological warfare.

Aside from that, there is not much that you can do with crappy attitudes or stubborn artists. No one likes to take blame for things and when under the impression of being correct, or having a serious dog in the fight, they will usually fight tooth and nail. The trick is to find a way to break through those barriers and look to the end game. Audio perfection is a fallacy, a dream, a white unicorn; it simply doesn't exist in any setting. Not because you can't do it, but because physics and the peanut gallery won't allow for it. So do the best you can; always......

 
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Re: Working with a difficult performer when volunteering to run sound
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2017, 07:37:20 pm »


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