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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

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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