Bad live sound

live desk It is Sunday 3rd of August the morning after the last show of Sliotar‘s 2014 Summer tour. I’m scheduled to arrive home Monday night. It’s a very mixed bag of feelings always at this point. Part of me can’t wait to go home and part of me would like the tour to continue. But that’s the life of a musician 🙂 You get back home and try to get back to “normality”.

Sliotar is a great band to tour with for several reasons. The Music being on top of the list, but also the guys are experienced travellers and performers. There is a level of professionalism in everything we do. But also for most sound men Sliotar is an easy band to do sound for. Due to this fact we haven’t had the need to have our own sound man so far. This is usually no problem, but from time to time you get those nights when either the equipment or the sound mans experience lets you down.

In these occasions many bands crumble. We have seen bands fighting with a sound man in a sound check and sometimes in a middle of the show. We’ve even seen bands under the pressure start to fight among themselves. When I see these occasions, I do realise how lucky I am to work in a professional band. We have had some pretty bad experiences over the years, but lucky enough not too many. Bad sound is bad news for everyone. Festivals get one go once a year, so they need to trust the sound crew. The audience usually pays a ticket price for the event, so they are entitled to a professional sound. Even in a free event, many people might have traveled a long distance to an event they have been waiting for a full year. But also us as artists, when we are on tour, we only get one chance with our audience, and we as a band are only as good as our last show.

So what do we do? Over the years we have learned to work with what we got. Sliotar‘s sound checks are fast, normally no more than 30mins. We know what we need in our monitors and we can communicate this to the sound man clearly and in a calm manner. But sometimes at festivals it happens that when you are the last band on the night, your soundcheck was six hours ago and there has been another four bands on before you, by the time you get up what you hear from your monitors has nothing to do with what you heard in the sound check. Again, the crucial things we try to communicate from the stage, but in these cases we have learned to work with the bare minimum sound. For us the sound out front is the most important thing. What we hear comes next. These occasions we have a saying: “Keep your head down and get on with it”. Just because something is going wrong for us, we will not let this ruin the show for the audience. We are there for the audience. If they will not come, we have no show. We as musicians need to check our egos at the door, be humble about the fact that people enjoy our music enough that they make the effort to come to the show and never ever take this for granted.


The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get two of his free songs go HERE and click Download