Festival season is here and many of us will be working for artists playing at least a few. Some of us will be working for the audio provider for the festival and mixing any number of bands, many of which we probably know nothing about before they walk on stage.
As with so many festivals, there never seems to be enough time. There are too many acts scheduled so time gets stolen from changeover to be able to accommodate everyone’s set time.
Bands show up with an incredible amount of gear and inputs to do a 30-minute set, others show up with nothing and spend the day sorting out rental backline, and some times things just run smoothly without any problems.
But what about when it doesn’t?
What do you do when the festival is a fly date or a one-off for your artist and you are using local everything? You’re not getting a soundcheck, you’ve got a 20-minute changeover to get your band on stage and run through a quick line check over...
In my previous two blogs, I talked about how I prepare for a new tour. All of the things I mentioned are things I do prior to starting the tour or doing the show if it’s just a one-off.
This blog will focus on what happens once I start the tour.
Good communication is key!
When I first meet the band or artist, my goal is to find out what they are looking for in their live mix. How close to the record do they want it to sound? Is there anything, in particular, I need to know? Are there any cues or special effects, featured instruments on certain songs? Is there more than one singer and who sings on what song?
I like to speak to each member individually and go over the set list so I know exactly what is happening on each song. Who is doing leads or solos, etc.?
If I’m mixing a 4 piece punk band with only drums, guitar, bass, and vocal, it’s all pretty straight forward. If I’ve got a pop act with a full band (drums, bass, guitar, keys, percussion, theremin,) 3...
In my last blog, I talked about how I start preparing for a new tour by learning the artist's music and really familiarizing myself with their songs.
While I am learning the music, I am also building an input list and stage plot.
When I’m hired for the tour, one of the first questions I ask is who are the Tour Manager and Production Managers? I then reach out to them for information. Do an input list and stage plot exist? Is there an audio rider or technical spec? If so I’ll get them and review them with any existing crew (monitor engineer, backline technicians).
If they don’t exist, I’ll start with the band and ask each musician what their rig consists of. How big is the drum kit? Are there any loops or samples? How many keyboard lines? Is the guitar rig mono or stereo, a wet and a dry, how many cabinets? etc., until I've talked to everyone. Next, I review all of this with the...
I’m in the midst of preparing for my next tour with an artist I’ve never worked with before, so I thought I’d fill you in on how I prepare for a new gig.
The first thing I do is get the artists catalog. In this case, it’s quite extensive- nearly 500 songs! That’s a lot to learn.
I create a playlist that contains all of their songs. I've also requested a list of songs from their most recent tour's set list, so I can focus on where to start. Then I start doing some critical listening. I’ll listen to the sonic structure of the song, what instruments are the driving force, what if any are featured, where do they all fall in the mix? What are the tones of the individual instruments? What kinds of effects are there? Are their instrument solos and where? All the while making notes, lots of notes. I’ll break it down by Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Bridge, Chorus, Verse, etc.
This is what I...
This blog is a continuation of last weeks blog. So if you missed part 1, check it out HERE.
We climb into a small fleet of vehicles to take us on a tour of the town.
Djibouti is unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. It’s incredibly poor, more so than any other third world country I’ve been to. People are living in shanties, on sidewalks, under makeshift roofs made from strung sheets and blankets, anywhere and everywhere. The streets are lined with trash and sewage and herds of goats scattered about feasting on all of it. The handful of modern roads are virtually useless. The few locals with cars drive very badly and hundreds of people crowd the roads and streets since the sidewalks are covered in garbage and the homeless. As we enter downtown Djibouti, kids are banging on the sides of the van trying to direct us to a parking space (so they can collect a locator’s fee), one particular boy seems relentless, he follows our van for fifteen minutes until we...
Throwback Thursdays….I’m digging into the archives and found an old touring journal from 2003 when I was working for Collective Soul. We did a tour of US Military Bases in Europe and the Middle East to support the troops who were fighting “The War on Terror” following the attacks of September 11th.
9:00 -am The band and crew meet in front of a Holiday Inn just outside of Dobbins Air force base to be to escorted onto the base and to our plane. We’re scheduled to fly from Atlanta, GA to Rota, Spain via military aircraft.
Once we arrive on base we learn that our aircraft is stuck in Norfolk for some maintenance so we’ll be delayed until they can get our plane checked out and to Atlanta. We spend about an hour or so milling about in the bowling center, then head over to the hanger for a short tour of an F-18 and Huey chopper. WOW, an aircraft hanger actually used for it’s intended purpose and not as a poor excuse for a...
Hi there, I'm Michelle Sabolchick Pettinato and I am a professional touring concert sound engineer. For nearly 30 years I have been making my living mixing the sound for many major label recording artists’ live concerts.
I first started working in live sound in the late 1980’s, the era of big hair and spandex, but my interest in sound engineering was born out of a passion for music and science which started much earlier. Music had always been a huge part of my life and managed to balance out my total geek side. You see I loved taking things apart and figuring out how they worked. So being an audio engineer let me marry those two sides together. I could let my creativity flow by doing sound and feed my science/technical side by playing with all the cool audio gear.
I also had another passion- travel. So when I first realized I could do all of this while traveling with a band on tour, it seemed like the perfect job for me!...