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Mix Blog Live: You Want Fries With That?

Obnoxious Drunk Person interrupting me at FOH: “Are you the soundguy? It sounds like %#&@.”

I refrain from telling this annoying, inebriated individual where to go and how to get there, opting instead to pay attention to the job at hand.

We’ve all heard that one at some point or another, and indeed there may be times when said annoying person is actually right—though that certainly doesn’t make the approach to critiquing our work any more endearing.

Occasionally I get an intelligent comment, such as, “I really can’t hear so-and-so’s guitar from where I’m sitting,” in which case (when the moment allows) I’ll walk down to where that person is seated and have a listen. Sometimes they’re tripping (figuratively and literally), and sometimes they’re on the money. In the old days when the band raged on stage with volume levels that would plaster your hair back like that guy in the Memorex ad, there would be little I could do to get one guitar player’s instrument to be heard by a person sitting ten feet in front of another guitar player’s amplifier. But times have changed, stage volume has become manageable and we do what we can.

Read more Mix Blog Live: Does the Kick Drum Really Need to Be That Loud?

Unfortunately, acoustics and loud music don’t always play well together, and we run into challenging rooms as well as challenging audience members. Feel free to print the following and hand it to the next heckler who harasses you while you’re trying to mix a show without a soundcheck.

“Dear Sir or Madam: Your assessment of the situation may be correct but I don’t appreciate your approach. How would you feel if I came to your job and told you that the French fries taste like %#&@. I doubt that you would like it. You will receive no response when you approach people like a Neanderthal, breathing on them with dragon-fire breath that could spontaneously combust and nuke the entire venue. In the future, please try to develop a language that enables you to express yourself. Until such time:

• Stay away from me and let me do my job. If you don’t like the way it sounds, you can be sure I don’t like the way it sounds.

• If you’re sitting in front of the stage, I have bad news for you: That front-row seat is probably the worst seat in the house. The venue didn’t tell you this when they charged you 300 bucks for the ticket, but the truth is that when you sit in the front row you’re paying to see the show, not hear it, because the P.A. system is behind your seat. You are hearing a combination of front fills and stage sound. If you don’t know what that means, I can sit down with you and explain at a premium hourly rate.

• If you feel there’s too much bass or too little bass, please say so, but remember that I can’t change the laws of physics. Some rooms have very erratic bass response and it can be difficult if not impossible to make the bottom end sound consistent throughout the room. If you don’t understand this concept, I can educate you about it at a premium hourly rate.

• If you left me alone to do my job instead of harassing me 30 seconds into a show for which I had no soundcheck, I might have a chance to sort out and create the mix you so desperately desire, thus fixing the problems that you are complaining about to me. If you don’t understand why we didn’t have a soundcheck, I can educate you on the subject at a premium hourly rate.

• If you persist in heckling me, I’ll be glad to have security remove you so that I can do my job without interruption. They will happily toss you out the back door into the alley, where it surely will sound like %#&@.

Have a nice day.”