Ok, so this entry is way overdue! We completed the first Euro tour last week and I’m lucky to have a bit of downtime today to finally log it while still fresh! This entry could easily become a photo dump; there was an infinite amount of stuff to see and these days I always have my trusty Phomera at my side.
Where to begin? After a quick layover in France, we touched down in Vienna for our first show the following day. It was a Sunday, and although I brought a handy US -> Euro power converter, I needed one with 3 prongs for my Macbook charger. Easy, right? Nope, it’s Sunday!
Euro travel tip – it’s Sunday, EVERYTHING is closed. Ok, not quite everything…if you’re looking for a bite to eat, or a hotel to sleep, you’re probably all right. If you’re looking to buy, hypothetically, a power converter, or toothpaste, or a sweater, you’re probably out of luck. It must be nice though – a day every week to unwind and truly spend with the fam, friends, and leave the wallet on your dresser at home.
The responsibilities of a FOH engineer touring locally versus in another country are a bit different. For starters, I wasn’t traveling with any sound equipment…no speakers, no subs, no console. The only weapon in my arsenal was my laptop, which does aid in tuning the PA, though for that I rely on my ears and some well-loved tracks more than anything (I don’t recommend tuning a sound system to music you don’t like. It can only end badly. Love the music and the system will shine through!).
We did have a road case with In-Ear-Monitors for the band, which keeps things consistent for our boys The Glitch Mob. Monitors are, arguably, the most crucial element of a live show; if the band can’t hear themselves and coordinate, there is no structure and there is no show.
For about half this run, I was controlling Monitors from Front of House, as well as the house mix. For those of you new to the game, Front of House (FOH, aka my job) controls what the audience hears – monitors are the means for the performing artists to hear what they, and their bandmates, are playing. Each band member often has a different “mix” of the show tailored to their specific needs and parts.
In our case, Ableton automates each mix individually based on at what point we are in the set. Really amazing stuff, big props to Nerdmatics and [namethemachine] for a killer rig! She is also known as Kim…
This is Kim.
She’s about 600 pounds.
She’s also the “brain” of our entire show, processing and distributing every bit of information The Blade throws at her.
She absolutely, positively, most definitely can not be flipped on her side or head, even for a second, ever. Wheels down is a must at all times. This made for a very interesting couple Euro shows where there was no elevator, and only stairs, to reach the stage, where she lives nightly. Over the course of this leg, she was carried down, and then later up, multiple flights of stairs – probably over a hundred in total. This is quite a task for our crew (5 total for Europe, about half the size of our US crew), but we have a lot to thank the local stagehands for! Namely, carrying and/or helping to carry our gear.
Here’s a cheers to local stagehands everywhere, especially the ones breaking sweat and busting ace; the under-appreciated and unsung heroes, without whom the world would never see a large-scale concert in full production. We do appreciate you! More specifically, our backs appreciate you. Trust me – before touring, while learning the ropes in San Francisco, I was the house engineer for many venues, and worked with touring acts all the time, hauling their heavy-ass gear from point A to B and then back again. Always remember to show some love, because it’s hard work!
All this talk of Europe and I haven’t even gotten to the first show: a well-known venue in Vienna called Flex. One interesting characteristic is it’s built right next to a canal that runs through the heart of the city. You don’t want to take your eyes off any rolling road cases, or you might be fishing your show out of the river. If you ever see our monitor engineer Goose Dyrrg, ask him about fishing an amp rack out of a river (on a previous tour).
The show at Flex was amazing. Our first of the run and it was ultra sold-out; I’m pretty sure all of the shows on the run sold out, actually. From what I saw throughout the run, crowds in Europe are very vocal about singing along to the songs – even when there are no words! To them, a melody is a melody, whether it’s a vocal or synth. For the most part, their claps were locked into time as well – when the PA was loud enough to overpower them, which it sometimes wasn’t, as they have a 100dB limit on most countries in Europe – it’s the law, fun! More on that later…
We even got to patch into their Video Wall, allowing fans to enjoy custom video content not possible on many of the other nights!
Not traveling with sound does carry the advantage of a light pack. We also weren’t traveling with any lights or video walls – our truck pack was basically just merch and backline (the stage setup/instruments), and of course the lovely Kim.
Thus, our “tour bus” for the Euro run consisted of two Sprinter vans driven by our new friends Matthias and Ollie, representing Captured Live in Germany. One van drove the gear. The other van drove everyone, including the band – 9 seats, fully occupied by 18 cheeks. Everyone got along well, and there was power outlets, which is to me the ultimate game-changer for travel, allowing us to work on music ’round the clock! I have some great stuff in store, keep an eye on my Soundcloud for upcoming releases!
It was a nice way to see the countryside, though many of the shows were fly-dates and most of the time in the Sprinter was spent sleeping (except our Tour Manager Justin, who even while he slept was still on his laptop advancing shows).
Looks like I will complete the remaining Euro entries in installments – episodes? If I’d had the time, energy, presence of mind, and WiFi (working, not merely “connected” without actually loading anything – #europroblems) this could have been the entry I made just a few days into the Europe tour. Expect an update within the next few days with many more pictures, good times, and tales of travel!