D8 Skills #11 | Unit E | Sixty Million Postcards Gig
The previous afternoon, we decided on the roles each person would carry out and packed up a van with all the equipment we needed to bring with us. I had contacted my work over a week before and they still hadn't confirmed with me whether I could swap one of my booked holidays to this Saturday or not (we have to book all our holidays at the beginning of the year). I phoned them and they offered me the option of moving my work from Saturday to Sunday, which I accepted. It was a little annoying that I couldn't swap my holiday to this Saturday as it was planned that I would go up to London to see my brother on Sunday, however, I decided to cancel this to go to the gig.
I arrived 30 minutes early, and when I did I had to search the whole of Bournemouth for a toilet. Once that journey was over, I got back to Sixty Million Postcards and sat down in a shed with my friend, waiting for the van to arrive a little before 9:00. While waiting, I read a couple of important sections from the Yamaha LS9's manual which I had saved on my phone, since it was decided that I'd be the mix engineer.
We planned to have our own music playing in-between performances which we would play from a phone. We brought a 3.5mm jack to dual large jack cable to do this. After inspecting the picture I had taken of the Yamaha LS9, I saw that it seems there is only one single 3.5mm jack input. Once the desk was unpacked, I realised I was mistaken. It was an RCA input. We now had to come up with a plan. My mind came up with so many ideas which all reached a dead end until I saw the DJ that was going to perform, setting up his deck and sampler. I went over and asked him, "does that have a jack input" and he said "yes". YES! I had figured out how to do it. I would connect my phone with the 3.5mm jack to 3.5mm jack cable and 3.5mm jack to 6.3mm jack adapter that I had brought with me to the DJ's sampler. This worked out perfectly, however, I should really have been more prepared than I was.
I decided to write our input list along some tape underneath the channels on the LS9 desk.
We had been given from 9:00 to 11:00 to set everything up, and we ended up finishing at 11:30 because it took a long time to work out how to set up the monitor mixes on the LS9 desk. We had to navigate through a lot of alien menus to do this which was a very stressful process however I remained calm and focusses, and we eventually sorted it out. Luckily there were no customers until around 12:00 so it was fine.
During one of the performances, the vocals sounded quite painful out the PAs. From where the mixing desk was, they sounded fine so I had to run between the audience and the mixing desk a few times to sort this out. I applied an EQ taking down the highs quite a bit with a high shelf, and also applied a sharp surgical cut in the highs where the vocalist's sibilance was. After doing this, the vocals sounded great and it was an amazing performance.
The day before, we had all decided upon what roles we were going to carry out on the day. Since some people didn't turn up and many didn't carry out their roles adequately enough, one of the most important lessons I learn from the gig is that I simply can't rely on anyone to fulfil their role. As I was the mix engineer, I expected that the guitar tech would sort out the issues regarding the guitars for example, however, this was not the case. I along with a few others and a very helpful technician from the venue sorted out these issues. I realised that being a specialist is not enough. I couldn't just be the mix engineer. I had to be a generalist, and understand everything that was going on on stage.
I had created some business cards before the event so that when I got a chance afterwards, I could offer the venue any help in the future with any similar events that might be held. I actually ended up not needing these as the technician at the venue asked me for my contact details at the end, and I put them into his phone. I developed a good relationship with him so hopefully we can do more together in the future. He seemed to think that there might be some things in Bournemouth that I could help him with which is great because I really want to start doing some freelance work in the industry.
This is the business card I designed and printed the night before the event:
Overall I'm extremely proud of how the event went, and I have learned so much. Even though we were faced with so many challenges, I don't think the audience noticed any of it. The event was an elegant swan, and us technicians were the frantic legs beneath the surface.