What are the two worst things a band can do to piss off the sound Engineer?
1. Don’t show up for sound check.
2. Show up for the sound check unprepared.
A very common mistake bands make is to show up unprepared and make for a messy sound check/ gig. Congrats! You have just won yourself a crappy show! Even the best sound engineer, thrown off their game by petty issues can ruin your show for you. Fiddling around with the processor or sampler and practice amps will not make you a sound engineer. When someone is hired to help you sound better, do give them a fair chance.
As a musician, you can help by arriving on time, and prepared with whatever is in your control. It’s very annoying when a band arrives late and then asks for cables and adapters that the guitarist forgot or a crucial part of the drum kit that the drummer conveniently forgets at every show. Try to keep things organised with a ‘gig check’ list and be sure about small things like your batteries for the processor, power adapter, or even converters for your power plugs and cables. Carry spares.
Here are some tips on how not to annoy your sound engineer:
1. Never ask for an instrument any louder than you need. It doesn’t help, it’ll just make the mix on stage difficult to listen to, both for you and others.
2. Keep your stage amps volume as low as possible. Have them angled so that they are pointed to your ears and not the back of your knees. If you need to drive them loud, consider keeping them off-stage.
3. You really don’t need all the drums on monitors unless its a very big stage. So, watch out when you are asking for drums on your monitors. Listen for what you need while playing a song together, make mental notes for next time.
4. If all your instruments flood the monitors, you will not be able to hear the vocals. Don’t ask for more vocals than required – see my post about feedback.
5. Do not put gear on top of mic cables or drop mics. It is easy to get carried away while performing, but NEVER ever swing mics around by their cables, throw around mic stands or stand on the monitors when playing solos unless of course you carry your own gear with that intention.
6. Avoid spitting or spilling drinks into the gear. It’s no fun rolling cables that are sticky with saliva, drinks, or anything for that matter.
7. After you are done on stage, make way for the next band. Do not wait around and chat. You’d like to get time on stage before you start playing, so allow the next band to have the same. Neatly roll up your cables, pack your stuff, and start helping your drummer take their stuff off, they usually do have a lot of stuff.
8. When you are done with your stage mix, play without interrupting for the FOH engineer for your PA mix.
Well, these are few things which make life easy for you and your engineer. Always remember to rely on your sound engineer for your sound; and do listen to what everyone says, but don’t always act on those ideas right away. Sound is subjective and a mix begs for some objectivity which an unbiased engineer is probably better with than your guitarists girlfriend.
In the end, have fun!