Sunday, January 13, 2008

Working for the Thrill of it

I got asked recently if it was worth it to toil away at a lot of these lousy gigs that I've been getting. The truth is, it really is. Even a bad day at a show is better than a good day hanging drywall. But there is one thing that makes it all worth it: festival stages.

There's nothing like walking on to a stage that's already set, with a good size sound system already set up (by others). There's the smell of beer and smoke and sweaty happy people in the air. Backstage it's teeming with band members, glad to be out of their vans and swapping stories.

And over on one side is the monitor mix, usually the size of a couch and worth more than my house. A few words are exchanged with the monitor mixer on the crew and then he steps aside. It's like getting handed the keys to the General lee. You walk up to a machine that most people can hardly look at without getting confused and proceed to set up individually tailored mixes for each of your performers.

A few minutes later you're ready to go and they're on. The first few moments are spent paying attention to the performers in case they need any adjustments. After things start to look stable you can relax a little and enjoy the feeling of standing less than twenty feet behind sixty kilowatts worth of sub-woofers. Eventuallly the performance ends and once the band is struck you can lounge around and enjoy the atmosphere, talk to the local crew, swap stories with the touring acts. Right before you depart there's the pleasure of looking back out past the stage at the thousands of happy concert goers.

That's what makes it worth slogging through hundreds of awful gigs in smelly dark venues for bands of questionable talent.

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