Posted by: performanceproduction | April 26, 2011

So much to talk about, so little motivation


That’s about how I’ve felt. I won’t lie, that last week whooped the ever-loving shit out of me. At some point during the course of the year, I get used to 90 hour weeks, but I’m just…not there yet. It doesn’t help that we kinda skipped our usual ramp-up process. We’ve been giggin’ more, but taking enough compensatory days off during those weeks where there had been one 65 hour week prior to this, and everything else came in around 40 still. This one came in at 92 (billable hours only counted). For more of a full story, lemme backtrack a bit.

After this show we had a day off then a nice early loadin at another college for a Big Pop Star. This particular college had given up on concerts the last few years for budget reasons, but they threw down some big money for this one (which they probably lost, because they just don’t have a whole lotta capacity to sell a bunch of tickets). This show was a light rig (which the tour supplemented with a buncha other shit), stacks and racks for headliner, full production including backline for opener. Opener was an act we’ve worked with twice before. First time, I was there, and they were just two dudes plus a DJ. Last time, which I wasn’t there for, they were suddenly 40something inputs, full band and a buncha tracks. That was the same this time (though a lot of the stereo tracks got cut down to mono at FOH’s insistence [for which I love him]). Those guys were fucking GOOD, and FOH dude had a killer mix. Headliner wasn’t awful to work with, though FOH dude (who is certainly a nice guy) has an interesting set of ears on him. I was scoffing a bit as he asked me to turn down the LM’s and HM’s as much as possible, and then he complained that it sounded “hollow.” Well no shit it sounds hollow, you just took all the balls away, brother! I chalked it up to a case of shitty square room meets a serious case of Arena Ears (dude was LOVING everything from 2k up), and went on my merry way. Loadout took forever because headliner’s set is huge and the student crew wasn’t all that good (though the two kids I had with me in the truck kicked ass!).

Next week was pretty low key. No shows at all, in fact. The week after that (the 90+hour one) started with a high school combined choruses dealio thingfishy. Sound, lights, video…I ended up on camera (for IMAG and recording). I like being a camera guy occasionally – it’s something different and I get to feel super artistic when I do very basic simple shit. We follow that up by going to yet another college, a bit further away for the same Big Pop Star all over again! Trucks are packed pretty fucking stupid due to the fact that the stage had to load in the night before, and we pre-loaded a whole assload of one of the weekend’s other gigs in front on one of the trucks. We overdid it a little, actually, and it made life tougher than it had to be. On the other hand, noone had decided whether or not we were even going to HAVE a third truck for that other show until after I had already done the pre-loading, so yeehaw for that.

Anyway. Big Pop Star’s FOH guy had the same reaction as the previous time, which I discussed a little more with him and gleaned some things. First, it WAS still a case of Arena Ears, but he could also have been hearing something that I just couldn’t, because when he was pointing out frequencies, they were landing almost spot on the crossover points. We got him rockin’ regardless, and continued with the show. Most of the crew was pretty lacklustre (again, despite the two kids I picked to join me in the trucks – I’ve been on a roll with that!), and loadout took even longer than the previous one had.

We hop into our truck bunks and sleep on the way home, because we have to reconvene 2 hours after we get back to move some trucks around and go load in an outdoor full production show at a local college.

Here’s where it starts to suck. It was cold, raining like a bastard, and the winds were a constant 35ish mph. Gusts were 50+. So, as discussions rage on about what to do, we start cutting down on things that can become sails. The 6 post roof gets cut down to 4. Twelve Vertec a side in that soundbay gets cut to 8, hanging off an external corner block. We didn’t even put the skin on the roof, because the 50mph gusts were supposed to be 60mph over the rest of the day, overnight, and into the next day. So, we built a grid and a stage, and kinda left it at that. The college didn’t have an indoor location that could hold as many people as tickets they sold, so it was going to end up being a simple yes or no. If it ended up being yes, it was going to suck really really hard the next day.

I wouldn’t be there however, as I had yet another gig at yet another college the next day. So after we got rained on and muddied up and blown around, we headed back to the shop for some further truck repacking. While this was all going on, by the way, we had some other guys setting up yet another stage at yet another college (it was a stage+barricade only), and we had a casino renting some consoles, that would have to end up being picked up to go to sunday’s gig that I was going to.

Ya know, in the quest for anonymity, this must be hard as fuck to keep track of, since I can’t name names of people or places. Especially places.

Next day, we leave at a brisk 5am to get to our college gig. We aren’t even there yet when we get the phone call that the other one was cancelled. Our guys considered the conditions unsafe enough to throw the skin on the roof, and the band wasn’t going to play without one, so that pretty much decided it. (On a side note, the students were cool enough to realise the safety implications involved, as not a single one of them seemed to begrudge us this decision).

Back to our show. I played the “I’m exhausted” card and went inside to point and direct things as they came off the truck. Normally, I’m the guy in the truck unloading it, but we had part-time guys with us who wouldn’t necessarily know, and also I was just plain whooped. I did feel like a lazy piece o’shit though. Oh well. I earned it. We had our head lighting guy with us, a part-time guy who was to be FOH, another part-time guy who was going to do monitors, another part-time guy who would start off helping our LD and then switch over to backline (which we were providing for both acts), and I would oversee both audio guys and backline. I would normally use first letters of names for anonymity’s sake, but that particularly day only our FOH tech’s name didn’t start with a J, so I’ll have to include last initials too. Anyway, my particular saving grace of the day was JP, our lighting/backline dude. Once lighting was set, he jumped right in on backline, which I had already started, but I quickly found myself having to answer audio questions and babysit those two guys, and JP ended up doing almost all the backline with just some student help. Throughout the day, all through the show, and afterward, JP was the only one I didn’t have to clean up after or straight up do the job of (other than JH, on lights). I would have killed myself and/or several other people had he not been there (and he was a last minute addition!). We got through it though, and I did end up back in the trucks for loadout, as I completely repacked them into something that made a little more sense for the next day, rental returns, and just less stupidness.

We arrive home about 5am, and have to be back in a few hours to go to the cancelled show and loadout the roof and stage. The wind has calmed down a bit by now, but the rain has turned to snow, and the mud has by no means dried up. Ugh. Loadout goes fairly smoothly though, and we head back to the shop for another hour of moving trucks around and finally get a day off the next day.

Holy christ this is long. I’m just as tired recapping as I was doing all this shit. I don’t really have any pictures. The second time we did Big Pop Star I snapped a few of the rigging, since it was our first time in that venue, but I can’t imagine anyone gives a fuck about that. If you do, lemme know and I’ll oblige, though.


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