Recently we profiled some of the best live sound engineers in Los Angeles. These dudes, with their deft hands and sharp ears, make concerts a joy to take in.
If you're a musician, they hold your fate in their hands. As such, it might be a good idea not to piss them off. Here's what will accomplish that:
1. Show up late
Arriving on time is a big way to get the sound guy in your corner. “It's a pain in the ass waiting around for bands so that we can stay on schedule,” says Shawn London, a sound engineer for a quarter of a century at spots like The El Rey, The Key Club and The Roxy. “The singer is always the last one to show up,” he says, adding: “especially if it's a solo artist.”
2. Try to run the sound board yourself
We get it: You have the best of intentions. But remember, those pave the road to hell. London notes that it's pretty common for bands to come in with input lists. “It becomes a pain in the ass when it's all wrong or they want a bunch of changes once they get to the venue,” he says. The lesson here? Get out of the way and let the sound guy do his job.
3. Dick around
When you get on stage for sound check, have your instruments in hand, your amp set up, and your guitar tuned. Remember, you're not at a practice in your drummer's garage, so don't be dicking around. Believe it or not, live gigs happen on a tight schedule.
4. Don't tip
Yeah, you read right. Not everyone knows this, so you could maybe be forgiven, but, long story short, if you want to sound good you need to tip. Ever heard of “tipping out” at restaurants? Basically, if someone else makes it possible for you to do your job, you owe them a cut of whatever you earn. Even if all you get is drink tickets, pay one of them forward. Otherwise, a crisp $20 bill will work just fine.
5. Overstay your welcome
True story: If you're given a half hour set time, no one wants to hear you for 31 minutes. And this is true of the sound guy more than just about anyone else. Imagine you're back folding t-shirts at the mall. A customer lingers ten minutes after close, poking around. That's the longest ten minutes of your life, right? So wrap it up, kids.
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