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Natural disaster at a gig!


Ian Benhamou

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So Friday I'm booked with my Floyd tribute at some festival up in the Laurentians (mountainous region north of Montreal, similar to Adirondacks). Drive up (about 3 hours with traffic and pit stops) on a hot humid summer day.

 

Get there, setup and soundcheck on a beautiful outdoor stage in a park. The festival organizers are expecting a big turnout (several thousand) and the weather's looking great.

 

We finish soundcheck and go eat with the band and crew. Check into our hotel rooms to shit, shave and shower and get ready for the gig.

 

Just before leaving the hotel it starts to drizzle. No panic. The stage is covered all around except for the part facing the audience, naturally. My rig is on the backline next to the drum riser, so no worries about my gear getting wet.

 

But just to be safe, Frank, the lead singer/guitarist goes there to make sure the gear is safe. Not 5 minutes later, Frank calls in a panic and tells us to haul ass and get to the stage immediately. So we do just that.

 

I get to the site to a scene out of a movie. The skies are completely black, it's pissing rain and there are violent winds not quite at hurricane levels, but maybe a few notches below. We were in the middle of a severe thunder shower. The kind you get when there are excessive humidity levels. I guess the fact that we were higher up in altitude in the mountains made it worse cause I've been through some pretty bad thunder storms, but this was insane!!!

 

The winds were so strong that the tarp that was covering the back of the stage and the side where I was setup tore off the stage and now the winds were blasting heavy rain all over the stage.

 

I got on stage to complete chaos. All the techs were running around to unplug all the monitors, mics, etc. Some were trying to throw tarp over some of the gear, luckily some of which was my keyboard rig.

 

They brought the trucks over to the front of the stage and we hastily grabbed as much gear as possible to throw it into the trucks. It was a total mess!!!

 

Luckily, Frank was already on sight when shit hit the fan so he immediately grabbed my cherished acoustic guitar and threw it into his car. The techs also managed to cover my rig with the tarp.

 

But still, I had two QSC K12's I had rented for the gig on the floor as wedges. I also had my rack on the floor propped up by one of the K12's. The rack had been knocked out of place and was now on its side between the K12 and the drum riser. I hastily ripped all the wiring from the back of it and got it into the truck away from the rain and chaos. Both my keyboards had been rained on pretty heavily before the tarp got thrown on. And my entire rig was on a carpet I carry to gigs. The carpet was completely soaked and so all my pedals, wiring and monitors were sitting in a 1/4 inch of water. It was a disaster.

 

Needless to say all the other band members had similar problems with their gear.

 

The show was cancelled, of course, and we still got paid in full for the gig. But that was the least of my worries. The fear of losing all the gear I spent years putting together and paying on credit or savings was so strong that I almost felt like crying that night. I really considered for a few minutes giving it all up. Music that is. It didn't take long for me to snap out of it, but still I was completely demoralized.

 

We brought our gear back to the hotel. I grabbed the blow dryer and dried off as much of my gear as possible, the cracks and holes in my keys and modules where water could have easily penetrated, my cases, etc.

 

I waited until today to plug everything back up. Everything seems to be working for now. I do have 4 or 5 pin stripes on the screen of my PC3x running vertically. It looks like water may pentetrated and leaked down the inside of the LCD. Don't know for sure, but my screen is definitely damaged. Other than that I think I'm okay.

 

Just wanted to share that with you guys. I'm sure many of you have been through similar experiences. I think of Meisenhour's apocalyptic night he posted about last year, and Aidan's fall into a pool in the dead of winter.

 

The bullshit we go through on the job!!! But yet nothing seems to keep us away from doing what we do. We must be crazy!

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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So sorry to hear about this. Just a couple of days ago my wife reminded me about the need for an umbrella insurance policy to protect all my gear. I would be totally lost if disaster struck any part of my kit. I hope everything turns out ok and the repairs are minimal and not too expensive.

 

- Dirk

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Sorry to hear of your experience, Ian. Your post was a gut-wrenching read. Certainly glad to hear that you...and your gear...are okay. Hang in there.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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It's horrible when weather turns like that. It's amazing how few folks running a fest realize just how destructive water and lightning can be to gear (and people....)

 

Hope everything turns out good

A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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I always keep a keyboard cover in my keyboard case. I keep a disposable plastic painting sheet in my car, and in outdoor gigs, I throw it into my pedal case (theyre nice, theyre shrinkwrapped, and are folded into a 6x5x.5 inch square. Its really all you can do. I have been known to gaff tape those sheets to the front of my keyboards in weather like that, and then at least I just have to pull it over to protect everything as I dismantle.

 

Ive that experience with rain coming in horizontally and soaking my cutdown Hammond and leslie, not to mention my synth racks. We had the same situation, and threw everything into an open semi trailer.and were held hostage by the weather for about 3 hours. I love carpeted cabinets until they get wet. Then you just want to sell them. Throw the carpet out obviously.

 

Sorry for the damage Ian. Thankfully none of you were hurt, and hopefully thats the worst of the keyboard grief.

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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Ian,

 

Might be well to not use the PC3X for several days, keep it somewhere inside, dry, and give some time for any moisture to dry out from the LCD assembly. In fact, give a few days for ALL the gear that was soaked (at least the rainwater was close to pure, you should see gear that gets flooded - the mud and muck do a lot more damage than just water).

 

LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display - if water actually got inside enough to gully get to the LCD elements, it would probably quit working. However, the Kurzweil displays are high voltage units (not extremely high but above 100 volts) and further damage might be done using it.

 

Worst case - at least it is a current series instrument, so the display panel should be available.

 

I carry a tarp with me, and I use enough bungee cords in my hauling to tie the tarp down reasonably securely. But the tarp won't cover ALL the gear.

 

We had sudden severe thunderstorms late yesterday - power failure about 5:15 for 45 min, then 8:15 for a minute, then woke me at 4:15 am for 35 min. Only thing got wet was me in going from home to shop to shut down all the UPS units (1/2 hr before the storm, it was hot, clear, and calm).

 

I've been caught in that kind of storm once, when I was in radio broadcasting, broadcasting news about a yacht race. I had a bolt of lightning hit a tree about 100 feet from me, and got a significant shock just from the charge in the ground between my feet. I'm glad I wasn't holding a mic at the time (or any other electically powered equipment).

 

As others have mentioned, check on insurance for the gear.

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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Here's my "been there, done that."

 

We were about 10 minutes into setting up for a festival, in beautiful sunshine. Not a hint of weather. All of a sudden all forecasts changed and the storm decided to change directions and head right for the coast.

 

Luckily my cases were still on stage. Also, the entire road and tech crew was on top of it with more tarps than you could ask for.

 

The worst part was our drummer had already totally setup his huge "festival" kit with dual kick drums.

 

We spent a good 30 minutes help hold down the tarp over his kit while getting drenched. The secure canvas tarps were blown off the sides and back of the stage, and the sideways rain did it's best.

 

Luckily, all our gear was unscathed, and we were able to setup and play a cool show that night, as planned.

 

Here's what we looked like when the storm just passed:

 

http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh58/escaperocks1/DrownedRats4copy.jpg

 

Here's the stage an hour later during sound check. 10 minutes after this pic, the weather totally cleared for a clean/crisp air gorgeous night.

 

http://i253.photobucket.com/albums/hh58/escaperocks1/corpus2.jpg

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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i live in a much warmer country, but i had my troubles with rains... I still remember an open air concert when i first put out my macbook (i also had my Electro and Lead2). My rig was covered when the rain hit, and when we started to play rain started to fall again. I was so afraid that my macbook will blow. Nothing happened-but i almost screw all the songs from agony...
Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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Reminds me of a gig in Northern Idaho about 7 years ago. It was August, and we were on tour, and there's a club in Moscow (John's Alley) that was always a reliably good gig. We get to the club and set up in the late afternoon, it's a typically hot mid-August day. As we're setting up, the staff at the club let us know that they were in the middle of re-roofing the bar, they'd torn off the roofing material, but the ceiling/insulation was still in place. Not to worry, they said, it hadn't rained in August for 17 years.

 

At about 6pm, just as we were setup and ready to soundcheck, the sky turns black, and it starts to pour. Sheets of rain coming down. In about 10 minutes, the ceiling and insulation is saturated, and big chunks of it are falling on our heads as we're frantically packing our gear back out, through the storm. Eventually, there's about 2 inches of water on the club floor. We help them cover all the PA as well as we can. they close and lock the club, they told us it was they first time they'd closed early in something like 25 years.

 

One of the bartenders invites us to stay at his house, and it turns out to be this utterly ridiculous, over the top party. We set up and play, and the whole night, people are pouring shots down our throats as we're playing. Crazy, crazy night.

 

About 9 months later, we get a check in the mail from the bar. Now, we had no guarantee for the night, we usually played for the door, but the door was always good for us. And we had no contract. We'd just written the night off, and gotten back on the road then next morning. So it was a pleasant surprise to get a very generous check, for more than what we usually made at the door. Needless to say, that club remained one of our regular stops on tour.

Turn up the speaker

Hop, flop, squawk

It's a keeper

-Captain Beefheart, Ice Cream for Crow

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Just a couple of days ago my wife reminded me about the need for an umbrella insurance policy to protect all my gear. I would be totally lost if disaster struck any part of my kit.

 

If you're seriously in the market, check out Heritage Insurance (http://www.musicins.com/) They specialize in insurance for musicians and are much easier to deal with than an all-purpose insurance place. Their rates are also very reasonable.

 

I'm much more relaxed hauling stuff around knowing it can be replaced if all goes to hell. (Implicit in that is that I leave anything that can't be replaced at home...)

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Wow. What a horrifying story, Ian! I'm so glad it didn't end any worse than it did. Sure makes me grateful for the kind of summer weather we have here in California.

 

The fear of losing all the gear I spent years putting together and paying on credit or savings was so strong that I almost felt like crying that night. I really considered for a few minutes giving it all up. Music that is. It didn't take long for me to snap out of it, but still I was completely demoralized.

 

I really relate to this. After years of talking about it, I finally insured all of my gear a couple of years ago. These people came recommended from others on this forum. $100/year for $10k of gear, full coverage, loss or damage.

 

https://www.musicproinsurance.com/

 

I haven't had to file a claim, but others here said that they had, and that the response was good.

 

For myself, I definitely sleep better at night. Particularly when sleeping in a sleazy motel, with all my gear in my vehicle out in the parking lot! :rolleyes:

 

--Dave

 

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Dave,

 

I signed up with that firm a couple months ago, especially now that we're doing more out of area festival shows, where the gear won't be home at night tucked away.

David

Gig Rig:Roland Fantom-08| Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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Yep, definitely have all my gear insured. Insurance is one of those things you might never need, but if you do need it, you'll thank God you have it. I had a bunch of gear destroyed in a car wreck, and the insurance came in HUGE.

 

I had a similar weather situation a couple years ago, but luckily avoided it. My band was supposed to play this multi-day outdoor festival, and starting during the night of the first day and into the second day (when we were supposed to play) it just dumped rain. The grounds where the festival was being held completely flooded and turned into a sea of mud. It was declared a disaster area, and they called in the National Guard and everything. Many festival goers' vehicles ended up buried literally to the roof in mud, and there are still cars there buried in the ground today that were never recovered. Needless to say, I'm glad we were scheduled for the second day, because we were alerted of the situation beforehand and never showed up. If we had been playing that first night, we would have been caught in it all, and lodging was right on the festival grounds as well.

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Thanks for all the advice guys. This place truly rocks!

 

I'll definitely check out those 2 insurance companies mentioned.

 

I'd been rained out on an outdoor gig before, but this was more than just rain.

 

Anyhow, I'll follow the advice and look into carrying protection for these kinds of situations in the future.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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Wow! That's rough! I'm glad to hear that you guys are ok - strong winds and tarp can tear a small stage to pieces... It's scary to end up in chaos like that. I played an outdoor stage a few years ago at a festival, we played two days and it rained during the night. I had brought my keys to the hotel since i didn't like the look of the stage roof, and indeed everything else got soaked, including the cables and wall warts I'd left on stage. We ended up doing an acoustic gig that evening, with me on tambourine...
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Ian, glad to hear you made it through the rain, to quote somebody :) And yeah, that pond-dipping exercise is not one I want to repeat in my life!

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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I have had that happen twice and luckily we were on stage when the rain broke loose so I got my gear covered fast. The first time was as we were packing up the wind took the side tarps off the stage. what normally takes an hour or less to tear down took us two and a half ours to get packed because of holding tarps up while others tore it down. The second time we were 4 songs into our set when the torrents came. this was a beautiful pavilion but the roof was too high and we had streams of water going everywhere. i was lucky both times not to have any damage.

 

Glad you survived with minimal damage, it is certainly no fun.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

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Glad everything worked out ok, Ian. I so do remember my horrific event last year, and reading your post evoked strong memories, as our storm came up just as quickly!! Mother Nature and he awesome power somtimes, eh??
Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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It's gigs like this that make me feel stupid for gigging with $5,000 or $10,000 worth of electronic gear and instruments. But what are you gonna do, play inferior instruments because you're afraid?

 

I do keep a plastic sheet like Tony suggests, and it has saved the day before... but I think it's time to buy some insurance.

 

 

Someone correct me if I'm wrong: I believe that electronic gear isn't actually damaged by water *unless it's powered up*. Right?

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Someone correct me if I'm wrong: I believe that electronic gear isn't actually damaged by water *unless it's powered up*. Right?

 

I don't think it's a bright line rule, except to say it's much worse if the gear is powered up.

 

If it's off it depends on where it goes, how much of it gets in, whether it leaves any residue behind when it dries, etc.

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Hello from a fellow canuck living on the 'wet coast'. I can sense your immense frustration with having to endure such a nerve wracking ordeal. My brother was DJing at an outdoor gig, near Whistler recently, when a sudden gust of wind blew their sound stage down. Everyone was okay. However, the sound system, various Technics 1200 turntables and mixers were damaged. He said the tarp ropes were flailing so wildly that one could have been hurt if hit by one.

 

I hope your gear can be repaired.

My world: www.chriselkins.ca

 

 

Roland D-70/SC-55, Kawai K5000s, Korg Triton Extreme 88, Yamaha MO8, Yamaha SY-99, Technics SX-U90P 'Pro90'

 

"I've heard a lot worse!"

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