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When Is A House Gig Not A House Gig?
Long story short, the gig that was supposed to be a minimum of two nights per week turns out to be more like two nights per month
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My gig as house sound man at the country bar just ended after a little over a year. The thing is, it never really started.

The first few weeks went fine. The soft opening went very well. Crowds during the grand opening weekend were huge. There was a very nice system installed in the bar. (Two EV MTL-1 subs with two EV QRx 212/75 tops per side, all driven with plenty of QSC power, house console was a Midas Venice 32, and plenty of outboard gear.)

But one band, who has a member that fancies himself as the owner of a production company, and likes to peel the paint off the walls of every venue he plays in, told the woman who books the bands for the venue that they just have to use their own sound system. How else could they be sure they have the ability to peel the paint off the walls?

Now, I have no problem with a band bringing in their own system. Even if the band’s attempt to look like a big, fancy, extra special outfit actually makes them look bush league. Hey, it’s one date on the calendar each month.

The problems arise, however, when this practice makes the person booking the talent start thinking that the house PA system is now optional, and offers to increase the band’s pay if they supply their own sound.

Long story short, the gig that was supposed to be a minimum of two nights per week turns out to be more like two nights per month - the original deal included middle-of-the-week things like Karaoke and line dancing nights at no charge since the room was providing eight or ten nights of work for two guys every month.

Once weekend bookings started going away, an attempt was made to salvage the situation by lowering the system rental price and only having one guy to do the gig. The attempt failed, and the new system at the new club that everyone was so excited about turned into free storage space for the gear, with an occasional gig thrown in.

This is not a good way to make a return on the investment.

Things began to spiral downward. The place cuts back its hours, gets rid of the head chef, and hires a new manager.

The new manager, who does not know the arrangement between the sound company and the venue owners, tells new bands booked into the club that the club has a sound system, and gigs are done with the system being used for free. Everything becomes a jumbled mess of miscommunication.

It becomes clear that this club installation has gone terribly wrong, and needs to be pulled out. 

While the sound company is making room in an already cramped warehouse for the gear, they get a phone call about a new club opening up, which just happens to need a system installed to support live acts three nights a week, at minimum.

It’s like magic.

The house gig that never was is a house gig again.

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Comments (10) Most recent displayed first | All comments in chronological order
Posted by Dale Bernier  on  10/20/10  at  08:57 PM
This is a great read and something more bar owners and bands should pay attention to. I am a musician but I also work for a sound studio in Montreal. My friend’s band has had all kinds of problems with house PA systems. They have lost fans because the sound was so bad. I think a good set up and a smart sound-man is essential to keeping music and any performance at a certain standard. While I have seen problems with some house PA systems, I don’t think bands should be able to bring in system that they like. There should be some rules as to what the standard is. If bar or any venue has a professional sound man on hand they should be the one that make the decisions on what sound specifications should be used. I only agree with using your own equipment if the venue is not set up properly with sound-man on site. Too many bands are trying to take control of the process and should just leave it to the professionals. My studio specializes in mixing and designing sound for advertising and feature films, please check out our work here and please comment. Cheers Dale
Posted by whomper  on  03/23/10  at  04:54 PM
didn't you get a signed contract ???
Posted by Amy DeVoge  on  01/12/10  at  08:33 PM
LOL......funny story and funny comments.
Posted by tracy  on  09/29/09  at  09:11 AM
I know bands in your situation. When you get booked in larger rooms, hire a sound man. You might take the opportunity to gain a few pointers from the sound company about what pieces you might want to purchase next. Many sound companies have great deals on used gear too. If you believe you were only missing a few pieces of gear, you could rent it for that night. You could also reach out to other bands that play that spot and ask if they would be willing to do sound for your band in that venue.
Posted by Kurt  on  09/28/09  at  07:54 PM
I'm not a sound guy, just a musician. My three piece played a large pub this weekend and there was no house p.a. so we brought ours. The vocal p.a. sounded fine, but the amps were weak and they were cranked. My band mates think I'm a being to critical in saying it sounded like crap! and we should of just turned down and played songs that made sense for our limited gear. The manager said we needed to work on our sound. No Shit! Any suggestions or moral support?

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