Band Feedback: the Most Outrageous Sound Person

Sometimes at Gear Gods we like to get feedback from bands on one specific question. This week it was “who was the most outrageous sound person you’ve ever had to deal with?”

“We had an ex marine running sound, with a drill sergeant mentality,  who used to get pissed off for no reason,  and used the delay on the vocals to get back at me at the shows, when he was irritated.” – Lita Ford

“We were playing somewhere in Colorado on a tour a few years ago with DevilDriver, Suffocation, and Goatwhore; it seemed like any other sound check, until I listened from the floor. Our drummer uses 2 kick drums with his kit, and this genius of an “engineer” decides to pan one kick to the left and one to the right. Stereo kick drums! Apparently its the wave of the future. Needless to say after a couple stern remarks back and forth he rectified that situation pretty quickly.” – Kurt Fraunfelter (Rhythm Guitar, Thy Will Be Done)

“While on tour with Devildriver years ago, we played in Orlando, FL and had an in-house monitor guy who couldn’t keep his hands off the damn faders. It’s quite common you have venue-provided front of house/monitor/light guys who know what they’re doing, but it’s just as common to have guys that have NO clue. This particular gentleman got our monitors dialed in before the set, but as we played, kept moving levels up and down at random moments…and I mean significant decibels up and down. I went over to talk to him numerous times throughout our set; sometimes screaming at this poor dude, to leave it alone!! But he still kept messing with it. It was a great crowd and an awesome set, but, unbeknownst to the crowd apparently, we were STRUGGLING up there! DUDE! STOP CHANGING THE LEVELS!! HOW DOES THIS NOT MAKE SENSE TO YOU!!!??” – Chris Drapeau (Lead Guitar, Thy Will Be Done)

“One time we worked with a house sound guy in Germany who was maybe the worst one we’ve ever dealt with. The dude took fucking forever to sound check us, and the whole time he was chewing some kind of snack in the grossest possible way, which he was doing directly into the talk back mic, which he had blasting loud on stage. When we finally played, our monitors had completely changed, and when we tried signaling to him he was nowhere to be found. A little later in the set I looked to my left and he was in a side room smoking a cigarette. The soundguy we were on tour with almost knocked him out after the show, which we all would have loved to see.” – Phil DuBois-Coyne (Drums, Revocation)

“This is a no brainer for me. I’ve met a lot of shall we say “lesser evils” in world of sound and lights in my time, but this guy out in Battle Creek, MI takes the whole chocolate cake. We were supporting NEWSTED on this show, but had dealt with him in the past on our own headlining shows there. This dood almost had like 3 aneurysms over the course of the night. I literally thought his anxiety was going to kill him and I was going to see blood shoot from his eyes like a scene from Manic Cop. This guy literally drop the towel man, gave up like 3 times. Didn’t have enough mics, cables or power amps that the tour requested (not to mention the shit he did have was beyond toast) and wanted to fucking blame everyone else for his ill-equipped ways. Stating over and over, that he didn’t know what was happening, “this shit fucking worked fine yesterday”. Which made the tour aggravated, because not only did he fail to provide simple sound requirements, but also made it seem as if before the tour had even staged their gear for soundcheck that we had ruined his equipment. I thought he was going to get a mouth full of fist perogies before the end of the show. We wrapped and immediately loaded out. I’m positive that dood got canned that night.” – Chad Nicefield (Vocals, Wilson)

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…Okay, holy crap, I usually don’t insert myself into these features, but I’ve also been to that venue in Battle Creek, MI (there aren’t many in that fine city) and I know exactly who Chad is referring to. So no, sorry chad, he wasn’t fired. When my band played this establishment that will not be named, and it was a fest with too many bands crammed on, so the sound dude was giving us long speeches about how we had to be on stage and ready to play in 10 minutes, since the gear was backlogged. That’s fine. Tight schedule. Except he screwed the pooch on his end of the deal because it took him forever to check the bands, who were waiting patiently, totally ready to play. I remember standing there for ten minutes just waiting to hit the first note while he dicked around with the most useless shit like lecturing our drummer about how his kick muffler wasn’t good enough. Seriously, the show is behind schedule and he’s running off stage to grab a thicker towel to shove in there.

But that’s not all. I play bass and do vocals from the center of the stage, so I angled my amp maybe 15 degrees so it’d be pointing toward my back and he freaked out about how it would feed back into the vocal mic (not at the barely audible level he made me set my volume at…). The bass amp had to be facing exactly forward.

All of that was bad, but here’s what elevated him to the status of “nuttier than squirrel shit.” One of the later bands’ singer had his mic cut out, after retrying once or twice he gave up, gave the mic to a bouncer from the venue, and started using the stage right backing vocal mic. Well the sound guy ran onto the stage in the middle of the set and started yelling at the singer, asking him what he did with the vocal mic, where he put it. In the middle of the set, mid song. Completely outrageous. In fact, this is the guy I had in mind when I thought to ask this question to the bands.

Written by

Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.