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high society gig = TURN DOWN!


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Just finished up a high society gig with a 5 piece all original americana band and it was a total wallpaper experience. We joked that they would ask us to turn down before we even started. Although that didn't happen happen exactly, they certainly asked to scale back after the first tune. I'm not upset since it was easy as pie and I could take the money and run, but why do they even bother booking bands for stuff like this?
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I seem to run into this often too. 7-piece "Irish-flavored" band. I've realized that we're hired for the inexplicable corporate gigs because the organizer thinks we can enhance the event. And one night we realized, when faced with a small dinner crowd whose average age was, well, really old, that we HAD to change our approach out of common decency to the crowd. And y'know, we had a wonderful evening. Our drummer, who loves to pound, was fortunately the one who booked the show. So, he was the first one willing to cut back (hot-rods). Once he came down it was easy for everyone to come down. And once the volume was down we were suddenly hearing EVERYTHING we were playing. After the show we had a gas commenting on vocal and instrumental parts we'd never heard before.

 

So, maybe our job is to ENTERTAIN, not just play our canned sets. In the process we learned a bit about ourselves, our capabilities and our music.

 

Yeah, I'm all gushing positive here, but it's a true story for me!

Roland Fantom 06; Yamaha P-125; QSC K10; Cubase 13 Pro; Windows 10

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We once had somebody ask us to turn down before we even started. The PA wasn't even hooked up yet, they just saw the size of the speakers and assumed we would bed too loud. We had a pair of dual 18" subs with 15" 2-way tops. We're completely direct including electric drums, so volume is up to the sound guy. It was ridiculous.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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I had the ultimate 'turn down' gig last Fall. My quintet was booked to play a film festival gala. We loaded in around 3, set up, and did a quick sound check with the provided PA and sound tech (who was excellent BTW). Then we left and arranged to be back at 8 for a 9pm start after the film screening. At 6 I get a phone call from the organizer saying the gala's sponsor had seen the stage and decided that the band would be too loud and asked that we strike everything, including the stage itself, before the screening! "We still get paid?...Yes? We'll be there in 15." I felt really sorry for the PA company that had to strike the PA and stage but I'm guessing they made them pay through the nose for the change. We struck, were invited to stay and drink and party, got paid very well, and had the evening suddenly free. My band loved me. :)
Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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well, they pay so they can demand, can't they?

 

We sometimes forget musicians since the beginning were in the service of kings and such - not the other way around like Keith Jarrett would think...

 

p.s.

besides what's wrong with playing pianissimo?

It's the best way to get attention of somebody anyway.

 

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Our drummer, who loves to pound, was fortunately the one who booked the show.

 

So, he was the first one willing to cut back

 

Lordy Lordy - miracles DO happen ! :rimshot::D

John.

 

some stuff on myspace

 

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We did a church carnival last year, and the guy running it decided we were too loud before we were even set up, because of "all that equipment you are bringing in". It's a 4 piece band with a singer. It was a large tent (at least 100x60'). We had 2 subs and 2 tops- one on each side. I guess all the keyboard gear looks like you'll be loud on stage. My guitar player lives right around the corner from the church, he calls me and says "is there enough room for me to bring my half stack, or do I need the combo?" I said "well, we haven't played a note, the guy is already saying we're going to be too loud, bring the half stack!"

This band is real good about volume, so even with "all the gear" we are able to keep the volume appropriate for the venue, and they didn't have any complaints for us, though I could tell the guy was just waiting to say something the moment we got a db too loud for him. He'd be out in the tent, walking from place to place, checking out the sound. It was pretty funny.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

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It's a good thing to know how to play softly.

 

It requires discipline & separates the best from the wanna-be types. :cool:

 

Besides, dynamics are your friend.

 

Tom

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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It's a good thing to know how to play softly.

 

Well I tried, Tom!

 

I played a solo gig at a restaurant last summer. The room was huge with a stone floor... I expected lots of natural sound reflections, so I had my volume way down. Everyone was enjoying my tunes until the last 15 minutes or so. That's when one of the diners with a table full of guests (I later found out it was the manager) asked me to turn down.

 

I was already at the "sonic wallpaper" level as it was. Oh well.

 

:idk

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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"high society gig = TURN DOWN"

 

Don't want to be confirming stereotypes (it was the same gigging in Ireland) but over here in Scotland when I get a bite of a really well paid bankers' do or some hedge fund types wedding - I'm more worried that the alcohol soaked team that make up my co-workers will TURN UP.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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Don't want to be confirming stereotypes (it was the same gigging in Ireland) but over here in Scotland - I'm more worried that the alcohol soaked team that make up my co-workers will TURN UP.

 

Surely you can't be serious ! - Scottish folks.... DRINKING ???, nah, I just can't believe that :D

John.

 

some stuff on myspace

 

Nord: StageEX-88, Electro2-73, Hammond: XK-1, Yamaha: XS7

Korg: M3-73 EXpanded, M50-88, X50, Roland: Juno D, Kurzweil: K2000vp.

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It's a good thing to know how to play softly.

 

Well I tried, Tom!

 

:idk

 

Been there.

 

It's gonna happen.

 

I try to remember what ProfD says to me... that he's "as laid-back as a dead fly." :cool:

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Substitute your event of choice for wedding:

 

[video:youtube]

 

Haha, this is great David! And from the experienced musicians out there, is it true?

~ Sean

Juno-60, Juno-G, MicroBrute, MS-20 Mini, PX-5S, R3, etc.

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Solution: Set up gear. At performance time, have band take the stage with instruments. Play a recording of the desired music through the PA, at an event-planner-pleasing (i.e. barely audible) volume. For the first two songs, pretend to play along. After that no one will be paying the slightest bit of attention, so for the rest of the gig, all the band members enjoy getting paid for an evening of sitting onstage while reading, texting, watching videos, or otherwise screwing off with their phone/iPad.
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All in all I'm right in line with your sentiments. It was a great situation to really hear the tunes at a more sensitive dynamic. We did swell when appropriate and the patrons were getting into it, despite the fact that we "looked loud".

 

The crazy thing is we're not a loud band at all, despite the fact our lead guitarist uses a Twin Reverb, the loudest combo amp in the world.

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I'm afraid they do John. They're not at all tastefully understated like that MADchester crew where you're based.

 

I am from the north west of england (Barrow) but I see I am in the company of the gentry on this forum... wearing a yellow Lacoste T-shirt on the bar crawl in the middle of winter is kinda the height of culture where I'm from... :D

 

 

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It's a good thing to know how to play softly.

 

It requires discipline & separates the best from the wanna-be types. :cool:

 

Besides, dynamics are your friend.

 

Tom

 

This should be in a drum or bass forum ...

 

I've played in GB bands that my sound was so quiet out front that I could mime my playing and no one knew the difference. My monitor system was stereo and facing me so I either would play for myself loudly or sometimes I would turn down very quiet and see if anyone cared. In the end $ is $ and the music sucked anyway after the first couple of instrumentals.

AvantGrand N2 | ES520 | Gallien-Krueger MK & MP | https://soundcloud.com/pete36251

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many many years ago I ended up doing sound for a Mariachi band in Albuquerque.

Later I found out that I got it because no-one else wanted it.

4 guitars, one singer, 3 trumpets. Easy, I thought...

 

Naturally, the old bloke who thought he was the most important one in the room is sat at the first table, about 3 meters from the stage.

 

2 songs in, he's walked up to my desk and says "the trumpets are too loud!" I point out that there's no mics on the trumpets [i only have 3 mics on the guitars, one has a pickup, and then the vocal mic]

 

He says: "well, if you had mics on them you could turn them down!"

--

Merlin Zener

Australia.

 

CP70, DX7-II-D, VFX-SD, MRrack, TG55, reason...

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The crazy thing is we're not a loud band at all,

 

It's not you, it was the band before you. They were loud. :laugh:

 

There's a certain amount of arrogance from some bands, probably the minority of them, that suggests they have some God-given right to blast the shiat out of everyone, and that it's an insult to their manhood to ask them to turn down. You handled it great, you took it down and took the check. Kudos. :thu:

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many many years ago I ended up doing sound for a Mariachi band in Albuquerque.

Later I found out that I got it because no-one else wanted it.

4 guitars, one singer, 3 trumpets. Easy, I thought...

 

Naturally, the old bloke who thought he was the most important one in the room is sat at the first table, about 3 meters from the stage.

 

2 songs in, he's walked up to my desk and says "the trumpets are too loud!" I point out that there's no mics on the trumpets [i only have 3 mics on the guitars, one has a pickup, and then the vocal mic]

 

He says: "well, if you had mics on them you could turn them down!"

Good one. :laugh:

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many many years ago I ended up doing sound for a Mariachi band in Albuquerque.

Later I found out that I got it because no-one else wanted it.

4 guitars, one singer, 3 trumpets. Easy, I thought...

 

Naturally, the old bloke who thought he was the most important one in the room is sat at the first table, about 3 meters from the stage.

 

2 songs in, he's walked up to my desk and says "the trumpets are too loud!" I point out that there's no mics on the trumpets [i only have 3 mics on the guitars, one has a pickup, and then the vocal mic]

 

He says: "well, if you had mics on them you could turn them down!"

 

Was it Yogi Berra?

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Was it Yogi Berra?

 

Honestly, I can't remember, it was too long ago.

I was new to the area [in fact I'd only been in the states for a month at the time]. I got the impression he was the guy who got all of those local government / chamber of commerce type gigs.

 

I'm Australian, and I'd never worked with Mexicans before. I didn't speak any Spanish - I do remember they were making jokes about me being the "real" wetback - - I didn't understand the reference until years later...

--

Merlin Zener

Australia.

 

CP70, DX7-II-D, VFX-SD, MRrack, TG55, reason...

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There's a certain amount of arrogance from some bands, probably the minority of them, that suggests they have some God-given right to blast the shiat out of everyone, and that it's an insult to their manhood to ask them to turn down. You handled it great, you took it down and took the check. Kudos. :thu:

 

On that same subject of arrogance, I know from my first gig that some bands are also arrogant enough to go way over their set time - even if they're playing rather half-ass covers, which also annoys everyone, gets people upset, and frankly, could turn away some clients/fans from future shows. I'm not sure if this would happen at a "high society gig", but it certainly did at my first gig, and our 10:30 slot turned into go on at 11:30-11:45 at night, when our voices are already dead.

~ Sean

Juno-60, Juno-G, MicroBrute, MS-20 Mini, PX-5S, R3, etc.

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Having a real drummer in a band makes it more difficult to keep the volume under control for a high society gig or a gig in a small room with the audience on top of you. A drummer can only play "so soft" before he has to switch to brushes. The best thing a band can do is turn down enough that the drummer has to play soft to hear the rest of the band. If you have large PA speakers, turn them in at a 45 degree angle so you can monitor the overall volume of the speakers the audience hears. Use your stage monitors to hear yourself and don't worry about the volume coming out of the PA.

 

One of the problems of electric guitars is that a guitar player has to turn up whatever amp he is using loud enough to the get tone he wants to hear. In a small venue, use a real small amp to get the right tone without blasting out the audience.

 

I do a OMB (one man band) act and play classic rock tunes. In the last few years, I've played gigs for older people that just don't want "Loud". Usually 75 to 125 people in a small room. I stack my PA cabinets about 6 to 8 feet from my KB rig and turn them around facing me. I only turn the volume up loud enough for me to hear and it works out for everyone. I don't blast out the audience and I can hear what I'm playing and singing. Give it a try and you'll get repeat bookings.

 

 

Cheers,

 

 

 

Mike T.

 

 

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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