We survived another show last night. Barely. We have been lucky over the last year in that we haven’t had any technical difficulties at any of our shows. That lucky streak came to an end last night.
The last time we played at Racks in Plaistow was a couple of months ago. That night we noticed that one of the house PA speakers sounded like it was going to give up the fight. At some point after that it died. That wasn’t really an issue for us last night, but more on the PA later.
I was paranoid as hell last night. We set up all of our gear and then waited. During that wait time I was going nuts. What if we go for sound check and something is wrong. I need to go double check everything. Mike the bass player was feeling the same thing. It was odd. About 10 minutes before sound check we both went up on stage and checked everything out. His gear was fine. Mine? No.
I plugged in my guitar, turned everything on, and nothing. I tried changing the input on the amp. Nope. I plugged directly into the amp. That worked. Okay, so it’s somewhere on the signal chain. Ah ha! One of my overdrive pedals’ power cable was unplugged. Fixed. Just as we were ready for sound check, I was up and running. But why does everything sound so wrong? Oh crap, I was still plugged into the wrong channel on the amp. Fixed.
So we’re bombing through the first set. Everything is going fine. Then someone in the crowd says that Greg the singer’s microphone was cutting out intermittently. Okay. Mess with the speak, the board, the PA amp, the cables. Nothing helps. We even strung together a couple of mic cables to stretch across the stage to use in place of the cables the house had. It worked for one song and then we lost the PA completely. We actually blew a fuse on the power amp. What the hell do we do now? Mike the bass player and his gigantic bass amp rig to the rescue. We ran a 1/4″ cable from the headphone out on the mixing board into a second channel on his bass amp and we sang through that.
It sounded like… what… shit. That’s what it sounded like. That is how it always sounds when you run a vocal mic through a bass amp. It’s supposed to sound awful, that’s why no one does it. The important thing here is that it worked and the show went on. We were halfway through the first set and we were looking at the possibility of going home 2-3 hours early, but Mike’s big yellow bass amp (Big Bird) that weighs 20,000 pounds came through for us and we were able to play the rest of the show.
As for me personally, it went pretty well. I didn’t have any pain in my left hand to speak of. There was a little early on, but I got through it. By the end of the night my hands were protesting and the end of the show was much needed. I think we really went two songs too long for me, but I made it through. Once I got through my own little tech issues everything went fine. My OCD pedal is really noisy, especially when it follows the Tube Screamer. It’s really noticeable when we are practicing in an otherwise quiet room. Last night the noise floor was high enough that I could only hear it when I was listening for it, and I don’t think anyone else could hear it at all.
As for the crappy tone I’ve been getting at practice… I wanted to open things up at home and mess with EQ, but I didn’t. At the show I thought I would tweak on the fly but I didn’t have to. I thought the three overdrive chain worked really well. I thought I sounded pretty good. Not great, but good. I’m starting to think that maybe the issue is just the walls in Mike the Bass Player’s basement. Maybe it’s just the room effecting the tone. I don’t know. I do know that I was pretty happy with everything last night.
There were no other issues. No dropped picks or anything like that. I had the mic stand pick holder with four spares on it. That did not end up being needed, which is exactly the point. It’s there if you need it, but hopefully you don’t need it. I also had a glass slide. Why? Because the mic stand pick holder had a slide holder too, and if it’s there I should use it. I had no plans to play slide at all, but I did use it on the very last song of the night as a goofy attempt at being gimmicky. I don’t think anyone noticed.
One more item of note, the crowd was huge! Well, by our standards it was huge. Probably the biggest crowd yet! It was great! It was also pretty funny that almost everyone left after the second set. So big crowd for the first set, who thankfully sat patiently while we tried to fix the PA, then a bigger crowd for the second set, and then a tiny yet extremely enthusiastic crowd for the third set.
To sum up, it came within a whisker of being a total disaster but it ended up being a really fun night. Thanks, everyone!