Sunday, November 05, 2006

Less is SOOO much more

One thing that amazes me when I see Live-PA artists that are just starting out is the variance in gear. Yeah it's amazing to see somebody that knows what they're doing use $10,000 worth of equipment with miles of cabling and power supplies everywhere, effect units up the arse and a full-blown orchestra of analog and digital whatnots; but you have only two hands and two legs. The point is to keep it live, I understand, but don't go overboard especially for your first few gigs. To use the old saying, practice the "K.I.S.S." method: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!

I learned this myself the hard way. After a few amazing shows I decided to add a 16-channel mixer and bring a synth, effect unit (in a big rack) and MIDI controller (M-Audio Axiom 25). The result? Loads more setup/takedown time, a botched set spent worrying if I'm using this or that enough, the impossibility of mixing it all with my partner's stuff and keeping it even, and in short just a big FUBAR episode. Sure, I could give a gearhead a techno boner when I showed them my Virus TI in the rack, but without an hour to soundcheck everything properly it was a headache (not to mention worrying about that expensive equipment during the rest of the night).

This picture was taken on 10/28/06:

Take a close look. One instrument, two outputs. (If you include my buddy Quailman, that's two instruments, four outputs) Of course nobody's gear needs are the same, but we sounded essentially the same as if I had brought all the instruments in my studio with me. I took my time and found ways to simplify the live set.

What I'm getting at is this: Ask yourself when you're getting ready what you need. You'll thank yourself later on after a quick load in/load out, stress free setup and easy set. You are performing but you need to keep things moving quickly for the poor promoter that was nice enough to put you on the bill. Look at the sound tech's face when you tell him you're only sending him a left and right output instead of 16 individual sends....he'll practically get on his knees and thank you! Not to mention the DJs at the tables have a job to do and it's distracting to have somebody running around them when it's their time. ;)

Also another piece of good advice is to make a checklist of everything you need along with a schedule of what you're doing. Know how long it will take to you set up and take down, and have an extra cable lying around in case you have a problem. Sounds easy, right?


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