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#413288 - 05/15/17 07:01 AM [Off-Topic] The Soundman's Revenge
Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 4840
Loc: Florida
90 dB Offline
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Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 4840
Loc: Florida




The "Suck" button on a soundman's console and his revenge.


“Not my story, but I like to read it again from time to time and get a good chuckle:

My band’s drummer, John, is also a sound guy; for several years before we hooked up musically, he had been doing sound for other bands I was in, as well as for touring acts I booked shows for. He’s very good at what he does, and has a pretty massive rig. Anyway, he’s the nicest guy in the world at band practice, at Burger King, or at a gig we’re playing, but when he’s running sound for other bands, he can be pretty crabby.

Very little patience for bands who start late or end late. Even less patience for bands who take an encore when they’re the second band playing out of five. Very little patience for singers who ask for more vocals in the monitor while cupping the microphone ball in both hands (feedback, anyone?) In general, just an altogether grouchy sound man.

For example, he ran sound once for this seven- or eight piece ska band. One of the trombone players said he needed two mics: one for his horn and one for his backup vocals. Normally at this venue (a 120-seater), John didn’t bother to mic horns at all. Rolling his eyes, John put up a Shure Beta 58 and some AKG condenser mic. “This Shure is for your vocals, and this AKG is for your horn, OK?” he said. “Don’t blow your horn into the vocal mic, because your horn is about 30db louder than your voice and I’m going to have everything mixed properly.” Horn player nods his head. During the second song of the set, apparently this trombonist was set to get a solo. Right before his solo starts, he grabs both mics and pushes them close together, so that the capsules are actually touching. He then blows this fortissimo opening note into BOTH mics. I was sitting at a table in back, by the sound board, at the time. John’s limiters caught most of it, and I STILL had ringing in my ears for two days.

At the end of the song, John mutes both of the guy’s mics (and leaves them mute), and basically threatens to ream out the guy’s plumbing with his own horn if he ever pulls that stuff again. John does this through his talkback mic, which is clearly audible over the monitors. The crowd bursts into laughter, and the horn player goes bright red in the face.

At any rate, for years I had heard John threaten bands with the “suck button.” Bands who were taking too long to set up, or whose members repeatedly refused to follow reasonable directions (please keep that vocal mic away from the monitors!), would be threatened. “Pull that stuff again, and I’m gonna hit the suck button on you guys!” I took it to mean that he would intentionally make them sound bad, but he never followed through on the threat, so I took it as a vague general warning.

So anyway, a little while back he’s running sound on a four band show. The second band, a Matchbox 20/Train kind of band, has him running 20 minutes behind before they even play a note because their lead guitarist was late. Their allotted set time is 40 minutes, but their last song runs over and by the time it’s done, they’ve played for almost 45 minutes. John says quietly over the talkback mic, “Hey guys, you’re done.” The lead singer says loudly over the vocal mic “Sound man says we gotta get off the stage. We got one more song for you!” as they kick into another soupy jangle-rock tune. John shakes his head at me. Then, the most amazing thing happened. After their “encore,” this band kicks straight into ANOTHER song without announcing it, apparently in the hope that John wouldn’t notice it was a different song.

John leans over to me to be heard over the PA and asks, “Hey, wanna see the suck button?” “Sure,” I replied. I figured he was going to muck with the levels or just turn them off or something. Instead, he reaches to one of his racks and starts scrolling through patches on his trusty DigiTech unit. Sure enough, he gets to a patch titled SUCK BUTTON. He engages it, and all hell breaks loose onstage. The lead singer and the lead guitarist (who was singing backup), immediately start to sing WAY off key. They try to get back in tune, fail, trail off in mid-line, try again, and start glaring at each other. The guitarist is so distracted by this that he starts muffing the chord progression. If not for the drummer, I think the whole song would have derailed. For the entire four minute duration of the song, I was treated to this crap band sounding like crap and getting madder and madder at each other.

John explained the patch to me; basically it pitch shifts all tracks from the vocal submix up one step, BUT ONLY IN THE MONITORS. So the audience, out in front of the mains, was treated to the sound of two guys trying to get in tune, only to be utterly confused. If they got it sounding right in the monitors, they could tell that something was grossly wrong in the mains. And each of the singers thought it was the other guy who was singing out of tune. I just about died laughing.



Edited by 90 dB (05/15/17 07:06 AM)
Edit Reason: To Edit
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#413289 - 05/15/17 07:06 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 1706
Loc: Midwest
HearToLearn Offline
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Registered: 08/04/10
Posts: 1706
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By: 90 dB



John leans over to me to be heard over the PA and asks, “Hey, wanna see the suck button?” “Sure,” I replied. I figured he was going to muck with the levels or just turn them off or something. Instead, he reaches to one of his racks and starts scrolling through patches on his trusty DigiTech unit. Sure enough, he gets to a patch titled SUCK BUTTON. He engages it, and all hell breaks loose onstage. The lead singer and the lead guitarist (who was singing backup), immediately start to sing WAY off key. They try to get back in tune, fail, trail off in mid-line, try again, and start glaring at each other. The guitarist is so distracted by this that he starts muffing the chord progression. If not for the drummer, I think the whole song would have derailed. For the entire four minute duration of the song, I was treated to this crap band sounding like crap and getting madder and madder at each other. John explained the patch to me; basically it pitch shifts all tracks from the vocal submix up one step, BUT ONLY IN THE MONITORS. So the audience, out in front of the mains, was treated to the sound of two guys trying to get in tune, only to be utterly confused. If they got it sounding right in the monitors, they could tell that something was grossly wrong in the mains. And each of the singers thought it was the other guy who was singing out of tune. I just about died laughing.



That was one of the funniest things I've read in a LONG time! I seriously can't stop laughing at the thought of all of that going on. I guess Monday is pretty great after all. Thanks for that!!


Edited by HearToLearn (05/15/17 07:06 AM)
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#413293 - 05/15/17 07:24 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7530
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
rockstar_not Offline
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Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 7530
Loc: Colorado Springs, CO, USA
I have always been more subtle and it usually involves the mute button. But I've always done the engineer job as part time. If I had to do it full time as this gentleman has to do, I would take his cue and get a similar thing set up, with extra reverb and delay as well as the pitch shifting. And much shoulder shrugging as well.

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#413296 - 05/15/17 07:29 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: rockstar_not]
Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 4840
Loc: Florida
90 dB Offline
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Registered: 04/20/10
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#413308 - 05/15/17 07:42 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 9049
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
VideoTrack Offline
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Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Great story Bob. Some people just get exactly what they deserve.
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#413315 - 05/15/17 08:44 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 18384
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
Matt Finley Offline
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Registered: 07/12/00
Posts: 18384
Loc: Hudson Valley & Lake George NY
As a pro I've often been asked to help by doing sound for small shows, and I try to make everyone sound great. The only time I lost patience was for the poet who, in what was to be a ten-minute maximum slot, continued on into the twenty minute range. At that point, I began the long slow fade on the volume for his mike.
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#413317 - 05/15/17 09:21 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 12/27/13
Posts: 1355
Loc: St. Louis, MO. USA
sslechta Offline
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Registered: 12/27/13
Posts: 1355
Loc: St. Louis, MO. USA
Thanks Bob! That made my day. I've seen all these personalities.... smile

Back about 20 years ago I was addicted to this daily blog about a guy named Mixerman and all the crap he dealt with from bands. Looks like it is now archived to a book.

The Daily Adventures of Mixerman


EDIT: Ooh.... Found this for those that want to dive in right away.... ENJOY!

FREE First Half of Book
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#413319 - 05/15/17 09:51 AM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: sslechta]
Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 4840
Loc: Florida
90 dB Offline
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Registered: 04/20/10
Posts: 4840
Loc: Florida
I remember Mixerman. Some of that stuff was classic.


Regards,

Bob
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#413345 - 05/15/17 01:56 PM [Off-Topic] Re: The Soundman's Revenge [Re: 90 dB]
Registered: 03/26/04
Posts: 1633
Loc: Way too close to Palm Springs,...
Tobias Offline
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Registered: 03/26/04
Posts: 1633
Loc: Way too close to Palm Springs,...
Years ago I was asked to fill in for a sound guy friend, Ted. The gig paid a measly $150 and was outdoors, Jazz On The Green, at a popular golf resort just off the patio of their main restaurant. The tables and chairs were set up outside. It was suppose to be a small quite gig with 3 different bands and a solo singer for 2 hours. When I asked what system I would be using and what I needed to bring I was specifically told they do not use monitors, there are no monitors and I did not need to bring any monitors. So I brought small monitors and placed 'em where I thought would be most useful. That was my mistake.
All the band members but one, a locally popular sax player that I did not even know was suppose to be there, showed up on time for a sound check. Every thing is going great until about the 2nd hour when this sax player walks in and steps on the stage as one of the bands is getting ready. I go along with it and at the beginning of the second song he asks over the PA for some reverb in his monitor. So I add a little reverb. Third song he gets a little testy, looks over at me sort of side-stage and through the Mic says out loud. I told you I need some reverb in my monitor. As soon as he starts to play I start adding a little more reverb which I think sounds good in the PFL and mains. Forth song he starts getting mad at me from the stage. So, I walked up to the stage to have a quick side bar with him about his needs. He leans down to hear me ask him what is missing, then stands up to the mic and says really loud; "I just need you to do your damn job". So I downed out his entire channel, monitor and mains with extreme reverb amount and really bad predelay. Oh, but only after he started playing a few notes. I never looked up to acknowledge him from the booth again. He sounded pretty bad, looked pretty bad and the predelay did a good job of throwing him off time. I could see and feel him peering at me angrily as he played.
Later I told Ted about it and he thought it was funny. Ted then told why this guy deserved it. He was a pretty popular sax player and a really good one. One time Ted had rented a really expensive piano for a jazz event. This same sax player shows up late after sound check is over. Throws his beat up sax case on top of the black shiny freshly polished grand piano and starts to open it. Ted immediately asked him not to put it there and explained how expensive the grand piano was. So, the sax player, looking the other way, reaches back to grab the case and drags if off across the top of the piano obviously on purpose. It left 3 big gouges 10 - 15 inches long. Ted luckily broke even that day after paying his insurance deductible.
So, suck buttons can be useful for revenge too.
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