January 29, 2014, by Craig Leerman
Like many professions, the pro audio business has a language all its own, with numerous unique words and phrases to describe job titles, equipment, and some of the things we use and do. Here are some examples of this distinctive lingo:
Battens: Long horizontal pipes found in theatres that are used for hanging curtains and scenery. They always seem to be in an optimized lowered position so we can hit our heads of them during load-in and load-out.
Biscuit: A stand-alone intercom station generally used on corporate gigs to make the corporate clients feel like they have a voice in the production – even though most are never wired into the comm system. The name is derived from early units developed by Clear-Com for the “King Biscuit Flower Hour” radio music show. They were even given the model designation “KB” for King Biscuit.
Bi-Techxual: A production tech who works in both audio and lighting fields, often at the same time.
Bone Head: The stagehand who buries a critical piece of gear in the “Bone Yard” that causes a long delay until the item is found. Which leads us to…
Bone Yard: Designated storage area for “dead” (empty) crates and equipment.
Bullet: Male-to-male or female-to-female audio connector. Also, an item you would like to deliver to a bad promoter.
Bump: A quick press of a motor controller that causes the smallest amount of chain movement possible. Also, the result of battens in the lowered position.
Cadillac: A large road trunk, big enough to store a piece of critical gear out of sight.
Gender-Bender: An adapter that interfaces one style of connector with another type.
Heads: Short for “heads up” – it’s what crew members yell right after the items they drop from the truss have landed on the deck.
LD: Short for Lighting Director, the person usually responsible for the big empty truck that is blocking our dock space.
LP: Short for Local Poser, the member of the crew who just stands around all day posing as a stagehand but never really gets anything done.
Meat Rack: A large metal lighting cart with two functions – storing lights and running over audio cables.
Patch Monkey: The audio crew member stuck with the thankless job of patching the stage during large multi-act festivals, especially on shows where riders were never received by the sound company.
Rider: An attachment to a show contract that specifies what gear the former soundperson and ex-band members needed on the previous tour.
SWAG: Free stuff given to crew at a show (commonly a T-shirt too small for the average person to wear).
Squint: Term of “endearment” for a lighting crew member.
Teaser: A horizontal masking curtain on a proscenium stage. Also the term for the “good meal” the promoter said he was going to provide as in “it looked like real food, but it was just teasing us.”
Tormentor: Curtains used for side masking. Also a term of “endearment” for a promoter.
Up Rigger: A rigger who works in the air, pulling points for motors.
Upside Down Rigger: A rigger who drank a few too many the night before.
Vidiot: The person responsible for making you move the PA stacks because they’re “blocking his shot” and/or “blocking his screens.” This person will also be the one who tells you that the feed you’ve provided for him is not working, which in turn requires you to point out that he has not plugged his end of the cable into any of his gear.
Craig Leerman is senior contributing editor for Live Sound International and ProSoundWeb, and is the owner of Tech Works, a production company based in Las Vegas.