Speaker Blast

By Mixy

This particular gig was nothing special - 3 bands in a small club. The bands turned up, set up their gear and started soundchecking. They were fairly run-of-the-mill metal bands but the headline act thought they were something special and let everybody know it. I don't like egomaniacs at the best of times, but these guys were obnoxious in the extreme. They treated all the tech crew really badly and got the service that you normally get with that sort of attitude. They had lots of flash gear including radio packs for the guitars, a big backdrop, an "I'm the star so you do what I say" attitude and insisted on using some pyrotechnics they had brought along; even though none of them were qualified to use it. Luckily for them I have a pyro license so they were allowed to use it as long as I set it off from the sound board. Apparently this was a really big gig for them as they had press and record companies coming down to see them.

I discovered during the soundcheck that they had a little secret. All their keyboard parts were on ADAT, a multitrack tape machine. What they didn't let on was that so was the lead guitar and the guitarist/singer got up there and mimed which, as I found out later, was due to the fact that he couldn't actually sing and play at the same time (he did lead vocals as well). The show started and the 2 support bands went on, played their stuff and were nice people to work with, even buying me a drink (non-alcoholic of course as alcohol temporarily impairs the hearing). Then came time for the headline band. They went into their set but at one point when they wanted something adjusted in their monitors (which are controlled by another engineer from the side of the stage) the guitarist/singer announced to the crowd that the club and all the tech crew were a bunch of [expletives deleted] and that they were sorry that they didn't sound as good as they could. Needless to say my blood boiled at this point and I was sorely tempted to just kill the power, but the possibility of being lynched by the full house of people put me off just a little.

Halfway through their set I noticed the singer "playing" a screaming lead solo and giving it all the "I just sat on a wasp" facial expressions. At one point he jumped up on the speaker stacks in full rock star mode and carried on miming with full histrionics. I saw my chance and took it. By a stroke of luck the band had put a couple of flashbombs and a maroon on top of each of the speaker stacks for me to use at my discretion during the set, a case of "just make it look good mate." A maroon just makes a loud bang with no smoke or flash. I quickly turned the key on the pyro control boxes and pressed the buttons. It looked really good but unfortunately blew our friend the guitarist off the front of the speakers into the crowd. The band carried on playing not realizing that the lead guitar solo was still going on while the person who was supposed to be "playing" it was desperately trying to get back on the stage, not noticing that he had broken the neck of his guitar. He eventually managed to get back on stage only to be greeted with howls of laughter when the crowd realized he was doing a Milli Vannili on them. They tried to carry on with a spare guitar but were booed off stage. The press and record company people that were there to see them hurriedly left although a good review of the show did appear in the local paper that week with a photo of a flustered guitarist and his late guitar with the headline "Milli Vanilli in heavy rock comeback shock." The next week the same local paper carried the news that the band had now split up due to "musical differences" and, to add insult to injury, in a separate column that one of the support bands had been spotted at that show and were about to sign a record deal.

The moral of this story is pretty simple - treat the crew well and you'll get a better job done. Treat them badly and you'd better watch your back.