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Roundtable: The Wild, Weird & Fun World Of Technical Riders

Our panel of audio professionals weighs in with some thoughts and experiences on the matter...

By PSW Staff December 6, 2018

Christopher Grimshaw: Most of the riders I get are fairly sensible, requesting well-respected equipment, etc., though I always enjoy the ones that specify a PA system that’s capable of full 20 Hz to 20 kHz reproduction. Very few systems will ever manage 20 Hz, even the big dubstep ones, so requesting that is a sure sign that someone doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Dave Natale: There are two things tied for this dubious category. First, in 1979 I did a gig for The Plasmatics and they had a mic for the chainsaw on the mic chart.

The second was a gig where the guy had an SSL console at FOH and insisted that the Waves SSL plugins were loaded, so he had an SSL console with SSL EQ on each channel, and then had another SSL EQ on the channel as a plugin. In either case, I was not impressed…

Nicholas Radina: Although I often don’t review full riders with regard to hospitality (where I know some interesting, funny and weird requests flourish), the technical riders have revealed some gems. Just recently, while mixing a festival, the technical rider mentioned the need to mike “bike wheel spokes,” which was a first for me. The wheel spun and sounded great – and yes, it was miked with a good ol’ Shure SM57 (of course).

Another weird request from years back was a vocal mic that had to be a Shure SM58, and the rider noted that it would get “wet.” The artist took the stage, and when needing both hands to perform, that 58 was down his pants. A convenient mic stand, I guess.

“While mixing a festival, the technical rider mentioned the need to mike ‘bike wheel spokes,’ which was a first for me…”

Bill DiPaolo
: I had to really think about this because I’ve seen my fair share of wacky things. In 2017, I worked on a production for a major pop star who requested that her dressing room be decorated for a “Sweet 16” party, including a birthday cake with candles. The artist never even set foot in the room, and the crew ate the cake at the end of load-out.

Recently, another rider for an extremely obscure artist requested a very expensive microphone configured with a rare set of options. I’d never heard of such a combination, and neither had my A1.

After striking out with several audio vendors, I decided to double-check with the artist that the spec was accurate. Of course, the artist’s techs insisted that they always use that mic, and that all of the previous venues had been able to provide it. When I finally called the manufacturer directly, they said they’d never heard of anyone ever ordering that particular mic, but they custom-built one for us!

Ken “Pooch” Van Druten: I don’t often get to see other riders – I usually make them for the artists I work for. But I have put things in my riders like “one child’s playpen full of rescue puppies” just to see if they’re reading it.

Nobody ever got me a playpen, but one time a promoter did have some rescue dogs on hand to play with, and that made for a great day. My favorite is the Van Halen “no brown M&Ms” – some poor soul had to pick through a party bowl of M&Ms and remove all of the brown ones.

Check Out More Roundtable Articles On PSW:

— The Must-Have-It Tools Of The Pro Audio Trade
Flat Or Tilted? A Variety Of Approaches To The System Tuning Process
Name That Tune: A Cornucopia Of System Test Track Selections
Bang On The Drum All Day: Tips For Optimizing The Kit In The Mix
All Wrapped Up: A Treasure Trove Of Advice About Cable & Interconnect

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Michael j "geese" graphix says

I continue to get riders from one particular management company (who will remain nameless) who book artists that typically perform in 750 - 3000 seat venues. Under lighting it states that the lighting system will be a minimum of 16,000K. I think I worked this out one time and we would have needed to provide something like a 4000-amp, three-phase service for this rig. Not typical in venues of the size mentioned above, nor any venue for that matter.

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