There are a lot of things you pick up in the live audio industry. In a lot of ways it’s a bit of a jack of all trades sort of job where you are required to have a number of different capabilities and hiding back behind a mixing console is only part of the equation. The job has taught me a lot about people, musicians in particular, and the simple, often overlooked fact that there is no such thing as a rock star. In reality musicians, no matter how popular, are just people like any other. I no longer look starry eyed at any musician no matter how famous they are due to that realization.
The event photographed above was a hip-hop show at the venue I work at in town, the headliner, who I won’t mention the name of, was running late to the event and not by accident as far as I knew. He was playing the role of the pop idol, showing up late for no good reason outside of fueling his own ego leaving those who work in the venue to stress and try to keep a visibly upset crowd from turning south. Twice beer bottles were thrown at the house DJ from audience members who somehow thought it was our fault the headliner was not on stage yet. To stand on stage and manage a crowd so close to collapse is not my idea of fun yet there I was because of one persons decision to let his arrogance rule his actions. At least thats the story told through my point of view.
The entertainment industry is, now more than ever, ruled by this mythology of climbing to the top, of making it to a fictional place where all you do is drive expensive cars and leave the commoner life behind. Your chances of getting there are about as slim as winning the lottery. I have seen and worked with more acts than I can remember at this point in the game and I firmly believe an artist has two options for themselves, you take the humble road or the high road.
At this point, after years of dealing with different bands, I able to judge an artists choice in this matter upon arrival at the venue or event site.Their attitude coming in (or staying in the bus until showtime) is all too telling of the type of event I will be working that night. I have learned to handle even the biggest egos with patience enough to get through a gig no matter the circumstance but I have seen plenty of techs crack under the pressure or frustration of a whiny musician.
My best advice to the performing artists of the world, learn at least the 101 basics of live audio so you are able to communicate your needs or concerns with engineers smoothly (but don’t be too smug about your opinion should you know a bit about it). As for other engineers out there, stay patient, your hired to provide a service and keeping the band happy is that service, no matter their level of self importance, your not the star of the show after all. There is an age old adage that states “never piss off the sound guy” and you would be surprised how true this is.
At any rate, I don’t often talk about my work as an audio tech but I figured, why not. It’s a weirdly closed community of old roadies and young ambitious minds. I have had requests to make more of the photos from this side of my life into wallpapers so I will see what I can do. This image seemed to fit into my focus-less series and was honestly an accident when I shot it because I had the manual focus switch on inadvertently. Still, I love the way images like this seem to sit in the background as though the true focus of the shot are the windows and icons on your laptop. Enjoy!