Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’


No, I’m not going to name the band or the bar, which would give it away.

They were incidental to why I went up to the local dive to watch the ‘9ers game. Unfortunately, the band came on during half-time, so I had no choice but to listen to them.

All of them were good to very good players (the bassist), and I haven’t heard so much wrong with a band (maybe three bands combined) in ages.

Here’s what was wrong:

  • They were way late setting up, the earliest of them arriving half-an-hour before they were due on; (normally you want to be there at least an hour before);
  • The drummer didn’t arrive until 20 minutes before they were due on;
  • He was so late they didn’t do a sound check;
  • They didn’t have monitors;
  • All they were miking was the vocals;
  • And as a result, the mix was way off during the first set, with the snare way too loud during the first three or four numbers;
  • Because they didn’t do a sound check, the vocal mics were feeding back, sometimes painfully, for half the set, and they didn’t have anyone riding the board so they didn’t adjust for it;
  • Despite the feedback problems, the vocals were too far down in the mix (yes, it is possible);
  • It sounded like the vocals were dry (i.e., no reverb or other FX);
  • On the final two or three tunes, they had some idiot sitting in playing claves badly — think the clunk, clunk, clunk of “Magic Bus” rather than the
    clink, clink, clink that you want — and just enough off the beat, and irregularly so, that it was annoying as hell;
  • They had two — not one, but two, count ’em, two — keyboard players, and on many of the numbers the keyboard player playing lead was using a soul-sucking artificial synth sound a la The Cars that was abandoned for good reason back in the early ’80s;
  • I didn’t like the guitarist’s tone (too muted in an attempt to be pretty — but that’s just me);
  • And (a more general whine) they advertised themselves as a “soul” band, but they didn’t do soul — they did lounge, the closest thing to soul being their closing number, Al Green’s “I’ll Be There”;
  • And, of course, just covers, no originals — it ain’t that hard to write originals, but writing good ones is another matter; why most musicians don’t even try it is beyond me.

At the break, they finally did a sound check. I had to sit through their first couple of numbers in the second set before the ‘9ers kicked the winning field goal in the final seconds. (Go ‘9ers!)

What I noticed was:

  • The feedback was finally gone;
  • The balance was a bit better
  • The vocals were still too far down in the mix;
  • They were still dry;
  • And their material was almost as awful, non-soulful ands non-original as in the first set.

The lessons here are pretty obvious:

  • Get there early enough to do a sound check;
  • Do a sound check;
  • Use monitors;
  • Mic everything (and I mean everything);
  • If you’re not competent to do a good mix, have someone along who’s competent to do the sound;
  • And above all deliver what you promise: if you promise blues, play blues; and if you promise soul, play soul.