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Touring and other animals. Day 11

Thank god for a great nights sleep! I meet up with the guys outside last nights venue at 11am. Everyone looks like they are in a good mood and I’m guessing they had a great nights sleep too. I dump my bags in the car as we say our goodbyes to the organisers and off we go again. Devoran in Cornwall is our target today for the last show of this run. By comparison to what we have done recently it's a short drive today, 2.5 hours or so. We hit a major traffic jam because of road works that people are actually working on. We are not in any rush though and the countryside is beautiful so it's nice to just stop and look around for a while. We stop for food at a local pub in Devoran which is close to the venue and get to sit and relax for a couple of hours for the first time in what seems like forever. The load in is at 4:30 and when we get there the guys from Cabin Fever Audio are all set up and waiting for us. Todays rig is an EV ELX system which looks like it will do great in this long pointed roofed room. The stage is small but we can get Faustus and the monitors on without too much trouble. Again they are close to the back wall which is going to make monitoring difficult. I get sound through the P.A. and do all my normal checks before running up the music to listen to the room and the system. Holy Fuck!!!!!…………….It’s horrible. A truly appalling sound, the worst room on the tour by far. I don’t even know where to begin trying to sort it. I try all sorts with the E.Q. on FOH but nothing above 2khz sounds good and I wish I could just get rid of it all. Looking around the room I see wooden beams above my head which can cause a problem but shouldn’t be doing anything like this. The triangular roof might be doing something strange too, but again I can’t believe this room sounds the way it does. It requires some serious work to get it going. I start by looking at the speaker positioning and angle them inward so there is less reflection off the walls. It helps a huge amount. Just a couple of degrees of movement have changed it from a catastrophe into a workable show………. but only just! The sound isn’t pretty but I now have way more control than I had before. I still have to butcher the graphic E.Q. which now resembles the Manhattan skyline when you look at it. This sort of E.Q. is not a good idea under normal circumstances as it can introduce phase problems in the signal, and the more severe your cutting and boosting of frequencies the more problems you can create for yourself. This however is a drastic situation and I need to do whatever I can to pull the rabbit out of the hat today. Soundcheck doesn’t last very long. It’s totally pointless doing any work with this room empty. We all know it is going to change massively when all the punters are in. It’s not even worth guessing what is going to happen so we just go with it. Come gig time the room is full and I’m sat right at the back with my tablet hoping nobody is going to notice me. I pride myself on every show sounding great no matter who I’m mixing or where the show is but I don’t have any confidence that today is going to go well. I just hope I can get enough clarity so that everyone can hear ok and it’s loud enough at the back without deafening the people at the front. So far I have been having a good run of luck on this tour and it carries on today. The bodies that have kindly turned up to watch the show have rescued it. A huge amount of the reflections in the room have been soaked up and things are far better than I had hoped for. The most pressing problem I have now is trying to mix around the stage sound. The back wall is causing reflections as I expected plus we are also 9 days straight without a rest, so my ears as well as the ears on stage are all suffering. Having spent years with bands doing long back to back runs without a break I have learnt that it’s a bad idea not to have rest days. Once ears get tired it gets harder and harder to be subjective about what you are hearing as a mix engineer. As a musician it gets harder to differentiate between the sounds on stage so you end up turning your monitors up louder which in the long run makes matters worse. Todays show is starting to suffer from these problems and I have to spend the whole show trying to keep things together as best I can. It ends up being less of an artistic mix on my part and one that is just a struggle for definition and clarity. I manage to keep it together until the end and breath a big sigh of relief when I know we have made it through. The show ended up sounding respectable but I’m glad that it’s over. Finally we get to pack up for a few days off before we go out for the last 4 shows. True to form though we still manage to make it down to the pub.

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