In our business, a lot depends on someone else. You can practice for years, master every aspect of your performance, then get to the stage and have the whole thing fucked up by a sound guy that doesn’t know what he’s doing. And good sound is all about subtleties, so you need someone that pays attention to the details to make you sound good. Don’t get me wrong; if you suck, then you suck, and there’s nothing that anyone can do to make William Hung sound like Elton John, no matter how good they are.
So when you go out there on stage, you always have to second guess the sound guy. Most of the time, it’s some dude playing Angry Birds on his iPhone, or hanging at the bar, or outside smoking, or sometimes not even there. As a performer, you get used to compensating for crappy sound. But then, not everyone’s crappy sound is the same. Sometimes the guitars are screaming and the vocals are too quiet. Sometimes there’s no low end. Sometimes there’s only low end. Sometimes there’s one monitor to share between seven of you. Sometimes the house sound equipment doesn’t even work. Unfortunately, there’s no escaping that one; just watch “The Beatles” on Ed Sullivan, for crying out loud, and watch the mic stands dropping down and listen for John’s buried vocals. But no matter what, you learn to push through it and pull off a good show regardless.
Every now and then, however, the clouds part and a faint angelic choir can be heard as a single beam of light shoots down on an excellent, attentive, and knowledgeable sound guy. Such was the case tonight. We played an open mic at a coffee (and beer and wine) shop in Tacoma called Metronome. Normally, it would be boomy, echoey, pain-in-the-ass-to-get-the-sound-right kind of place, but thanks to the sound guy (his name is Kristof, and said it was okay if I mentioned his name in the blog), it was an absolute pleasure. He was stationed like a Palace guard next to the mixer all night, waiting for the guitar to dip or take a solo, or the vocalist to belt or whisper . . . whatever. He was on it. Nearly telepathically. And in a fairly difficult room, to boot.
Not that Kristof is a god or anything, but he’s damn good and deserves recognition. As do all the other wonderful sound guys that we’ve worked with. Unfortunately, names escape me at the moment, and I hesitate to name only a few and leave out all the others. But at our level, they are few and far between, and I’m sure they know who they are. Here’s to you (lifting my beer).
P.S. Dave Hannon is an asshole. (He’s not really, but we’re drinking together, and he said that it is my duty to say that. Then he called me “Grasshopper”.)