I’m going off on a little tangent today. Not pedal related at all. More like personal observation and realization. But I’m hoping a few of you can relate.
Recently, I played a show and during that performance I was having the conversation that multiple musicians have in their head while playing live. The situation was great, the crowd was awesome, and the gear was working flawlessly. But the stage was a bit weird – or good depending on how you like things. The stage was a very *dead* stage and a bit larger than what I normally play on. Typically, I play in “dive bars” and I say that lovingly. Those dive bars usually have a pretty small stage and limited PA. This performance had a killer monitor and FOH (Front of House) PA. We had a small amount of time to line check and get our monitors dialed in. Individual instruments were sounding good, but as soon as it was time play, I immediately noticed the stage mix on my side was not the greatest. The dead stage made hearing the drums difficult, and since my guitar was on the far end, it sounded insanely loud.
Now in my experience in situations you need to trust but verify. I quickly looked at my settings on my Matchless, and all were where they typically are. I play the same volume for practice as for live shows. A quick glance on the pedals confirmed that levels were good there too. This is all happening during the first song. I could hear the vocals, which I needed for queuing changes, but the other instruments were hard to hear. I knew this would be a lot to ask the sound guy during the set.. and I don’t want to be “that guy” that demands a perfect mix. I played a ton of shows where sound was bad, so this is something you need to manage if you want to play in a variety of venues or go on tour.
The voice inside my head kept saying – “this sounds good out there – just play”. What happens in these situations you feel what you’re hearing in the stage mix is what is pushed out to the Front of House. It’s not. You have to trust the sound guy that it’s good for everyone else. I would much rather have the worst stage mix and it sounding great FOH vs. the best stage mix and sounding horrible to the audience.
Playing live – there are a lot of head games happening. Stay focused. Stay confident. And if you’re sound guy is good, it will be great for the crowd.
Do some of you players know what I’m talking about? Comment below!