My friend Rob has a saying that goes something like this: “Are you gonna show up, or are you gonna stay home?” It’s become a euphemism among some of our friends for, “If you take a gig, be 100 percent committed to doing the gig, in the best manner you possibly can. Otherwise, stay home.”
Rob’s words came to me at a show I was doing last week. It was a small indoor event center that holds about 2,000 people. The P.A. company shall remain nameless to avoid embarrassment. Advancing the show a few weeks earlier, my Spidey-sense was tingling. The sound company was trying to foist upon me a small-format digital desk that, while it has plenty of capabilities, doesn’t support the workflow speed I need to do my show. As an alternative, they offered an analog desk with a full processing rack, and we agreed it would be a better alternative provided that we would not need to share channels with the support act.
Another thing that bugged me about the advance was our discussion of the line array that would be provided, the manufacturer of which I had never heard. I’m not one to be a snob and say, “I must have this particular brand/model of speaker” (or anything else for that matter), and I’m sure there was a time when I had not heard of L-Acoustics. But at this point it’s rare that I encounter unfamiliar brands of pro audio gear in the field. I was assured on the phone that these were “great speakers blah, blah, blah...” It turned out to be by far the ugliest sounding line array I have ever heard. I can only blame myself for accepting that P.A., but sometimes you have to try new gear.
Once we got on site there were some issues, many of which were caused by the ragged split that the sound company supplied for the show. The number of channels that had problems was well beyond anything I had encountered (close to 10), and many of the channels that did work were noisy. If the gear had been exposed to rain, I might have understood, but it hadn’t and so I didn’t.
Compounding the poor condition of the gear was the attitude of the workers, one of whom owns the company. When my crew guys came in and asked about whether we could set monitor world at stage left, one of them replied “I don’t give a f@#$ where we put the monitor desk.” (He was sitting in a lounge chair like he was at the beach). After he reiterated his comment several times, one of my crew guys replied “I do give a f@#$ about where it is, so please put the monitor desk stage left.” Which they did.
The lack of cooperation in chasing down issues and failure to have brought in the correct gear was appalling. I don’t need someone to wipe my nose, but if you bring a P.A. system to do a show, it should, um.... work. And if you tell me you are bringing certain gear, I expect it to be there, in working order. If you can’t do that, then you shouldn’t take the gig.
“Well we’re not making any money on this because we had to rent ABC.” I’m sorry but that’s not my problem and it’s no excuse for lack of professionalism. If you don’t have the gear to do the gig, then you shouldn’t contract to do the gig.
Are you gonna show up or are you gonna stay home? People are counting on you.