The Glitch Blog #6 – Coachella week 2.0

BREAKING:  THE GLITCH MOB TOUR MANAGER JUSTIN, MERE SECONDS BEFORE A POTENTIALLY FATAL JUMBONAUT BODYSLAM.  FOH SOUND ENGINEER SAVES LIFE BY YELLING “NOOOOO” AT THE LAST SECOND:

Our tour manager Justin, milliseconds before a near-fatal Jumbonaut Bodyslam

*No Jumbonauts were harmed in the taking of this photo

Coachella week 2.0 started off with a bang!  The Glitch Mob crushed the weekend with another brilliant set, pulling out all the tricks and turnarounds their fans (including myself) will hopefully retain for a lifetime.  Here’s a few choice pics of their set, taken by my good friend/super-producer/system-smashing Professor Bang!

Sunset - minutes before our set starts

Sunset – minutes before our set starts

Concentrate

Drive [the spaceship] like you stole it

14z4r5

14z4r5

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The Blade

The Mob

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Hands up!

Hands up!

The spaceship has landed

The spaceship has landed

Massive

Massive

Bright

bright

BRIGHTER

BRIGHTER

THE WILD ONES

THE WILD ONES

 

While an HD video of the live stream was broadcast through Coachella, I’ve only been able to find a few clips of their set online.  I did find this official Thank You video the festival produced to recap both weekends, can anyone count how many hidden cameos they make over its 2.5 minute duration?  (Easter egg:  the background song Coachella chose for this video was written by VirtualBoy, a member of our opening act on the tour Penthouse Penthouse!)

The beautiful thing about running a show in the same location twice in a row, is the second time around is the equipment is already dialed in from the previous show, happily waiting for you.  The kinks have been sorted and it’s all about fine-tuning, really locking in the details and helping to facilitate the best possible performance for the audience to enjoy.  The band feels comfortable and confident after a solid run-through and for the most part, everything flows effortlessly.

Tech Tip:  Next time you have the opportunity of catching a show on the first or second night, go for round two!  Nothing puts a performance over the top like a little Practice & Polish.

Part of Coachella’s legacy is their reputation for taking care of their artists and crew.  Here’s a few pics of good times I took on the grounds this year, backstage and behind-the-scenes:

Connect 4 - big time!

Behind Mainstage in the Artist Area = life-size Connect 4

Palm Trees - indigenous to Palm Springs (?)

Palm Trees – indigenous to Palm Springs (?)

VIP and Coachella's iconic ferris wheel

VIP and Coachella’s iconic ferris wheel

Our Ableton tech and Lighting tech contemplate buying a bigger computer monitor

Chris (Glitch Mob Ableton Tech) and Brett (TGM Lighting Director) contemplate buying a bigger computer monitor

Before

Before (spot the crane)

After!

After!

Backstage artist trailers...er...what's a fancy word for trailers?

Backstage artist camp

Coachella catering - they take care of the crew!

Coachella catering – they take care of the crew!

Stage perspective - and our Monitor/Carpenter/Wireless master Mike!

Stage perspective –  our Monitor Engineer/Carpenter/Wireless master Mike aka GooseDyrg

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Of course, no trip would be complete without a little Hotel studio session:

Hotel studio session!  Q:  When's the best time to work on music?  A:  Do you have 5 minutes?

Q: When’s the best time to work on music? A: Do you have 5 minutes?

Sometimes the only time you get to work on music or a hobby is when you’re forced into isolation.  Some of my best material has been written on plane trips across the country, trapped in a hotel room, or sitting in airports!  I always bring a cube tap with me to airports so there’s always an outlet available, eliminating the need to confront that MMA fighter hogging all the juice with his iPad.

Remember, when checking luggage at an airport, don’t cause yourself a headache by overpacking!  Our Production Manager Harrybarry has it down to a science with a 49 lb. pack!  This time I managed to squeak by without cross-loading into my carry-on:

Here's how a suitcase full of tools, clothes, and music equipment checks in - barely!

How does a suitcase full of tools, clothes, and music equipment check in?  (hint – think mouse)

Thanks to everyone for an amazing two weekends!  I will leave you with an overhead view of our tent, taken by a helicopter shortly before the festival started.  It perfectly encapsulates the magic these grounds convey over hundreds of hours of continuous music across 6 stages, for music lovers, by music lovers.

Bird's eye view of the Sahara Tent

Bird’s eye view of the Sahara Tent

Bye Coachella, see you next year!

Sig5
Ian Hicks – FOH

The Glitch Blog #5 – Coachella

Coachella lived up to every expectation I hoped it would – great performance, huge energy, massive sound, fanatic crowd!  Coachella is one of the world’s biggest music festivals, located near Palm Springs in LA, hosting 200,000 fans and over 180 bands/DJ’s over two weekends.  This year we’re enjoying the sounds of Skrillex, Outkast, Pharrell, Arcade Fire, Netsky (one of my favorite producers), and of course your friends The Glitch Mob!  Those of you who caught their set at the Sahara tent witnessed a piece of history in the making – their full stage setup, The Blade, just after sunset, unsheathed and cutting straight to the heart of why we are all there – to dance with friends and be moved by the energy emanating in waves from the stage.

FOH Perspective

Feel the energy yet?  No?  You will soon!  This pic is from setup, 10 hours before our show

The Sahara Tent holds, aside from about 30,000 people (12,000 if the Fire Marshal asks), special meaning; last year’s Coachella showed my girlfriend and me an amazing time as we camped with good friends and spent the next 3 days dancing in Sahara, where Leannah taught me to shuffle to the beats of Wolfgang Gartner, Benny Benassi, Hardwell and countless others.  I was blown away by the sound and hoped I’d be able to one day drive the system, and perform onstage as Anoctave.  This weekend makes 1 for 2, next year’s goal is to invert my perspective from FOH!

Pictured left:  A farmer's tan, further contrasted by Leannah's non-farmer's tan

Pictured left: The elusive Farmer’s Tan, contrasting brilliantly with Leannah’s non-Farmer’s Tan

I’m finding the best thing that can be done for your career and life is to focus on a goal, allowing it to shape and guide every action of your day, and seek a path in every opportunity that presents itself – techniques I learned from one of my favorite books, Think and Grow Rich, as recommended to me by Steve Nalepa who has helped to shape this tour in many indirect (?) ways.  I owe much to him, The Glitch Mob, and especially PK Sound (thanks Ari!) in helping me to where I am today. In reality, I would be lost in life without the light of so many great inspirations, shedding a path before me.

<Tech Talk>

This first weekend of Coachella was especially momentous for The Glitch Mob and Crew, as it was proof-of-concept that The Blade could be used effectively for large festivals, meaning they are able to put on a full-scale production and performance, as opposed to being limited to a DJ set (which is generally a necessity due to time constraints of moving a large set).

Artists typically have 15-20 minutes after the performer before them finishes their set, to move the entire setup onto the stage simultaneously with the previous set being removed.  During this period of time the sound engineer plays house music (though not always House music) providing an opportunity for artists to setup, while keeping the energy up for the crowd as dance-music shows tend to be lost in silence.

They look like earmuffs, but - alas - they are headphones

Is that an earmuff?  Nope – just the only working side of some recently-busted headphones

While 20 minutes may seem a long time to transition – and in the case of DJ’s who are sharing a similar setup it generally doesn’t take that long – moving an entire set as complex as The Blade, followed by re-checking all the lines, lights, and gizmos that make it tick so that the audience and band have a seamless experience, is a complicated undertaking that can take on many forms.  It isn’t the process of a single person or even a small team, but a series of teams working together in harmony.  Rat Sound provided the sound system for our tent (and indeed, all of Coachella), and did a great job contributing their speed and professionalism to our combined efforts.  I had the opportunity of chatting with Dave Rat, owner of Rat Sound and FOH for one of my favorite bands Red Hot Chili Peppers, and expressed my appreciation for providing a solid system and team (as well as inspiring me to start this Log of Rhythm after reading his blog Roadies in the Midst, legendary to roadies of all shapes and sizes).

</Tech Talk>

This is great news for all you Glitch Mob fans, as it means we will be able to bring the full TGM Experience to festivals around the world!  We are playing many of the major festivals coming up this year, including Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, Bonnaroo, Osheaga, and Electric Forest –  and though it has yet to be determined how many will accommodate our full setup, the speed and accuracy this weekend was executed with adds even more of a driving force behind our tour.  And of course, you can catch The Blade at any of our headlining shows this year, we will be playing all across the US and you can see the full tour schedule on The Glitch Mob’s website…if we’re not playing in your town, don’t despair!  We have more shows in the works, details of which will be soon revealed.

I think that’s it for this entry, I will leave you with a Family Photo of the Mob taken with their fans at the end of their set in the Sahara Tent – see me at FOH, way back there in the distance?  No?  Take a closer look, you may have to zoom in about 400%, I am the tiny pixel in the middle of the tech tent with a huge grin on my face, wearing a black Cabbie cap and half a set of headphones.

The Glitch Mob at Coachella Week 1

The Glitch Mob at Coachella Week 1

Next up, Coachella weekend 2.0!

Sig5
Ian Hicks – FOH

The Glitch Blog #4 – Completing the First Chapter

Capping off our first leg of the tour, last night in Austin was possibly the most electrified show yet!  Penthouse Penthouse, Ana Sia, and Glitch Mob all played dynamic and seemingly effortless sets, while technical execution behind the scenes went exactly as planned (see: Transparent).  A telling sign of a good performer is for the crowd to be moved without being able to explain why (see:  Sunset).  A telling sign of a good production team, be it sound, lighting, video or otherwise – is for the audience to never even know they are there (see: Ninja).

From the first note of the night, the crowd was hit with a flurry of 8-bit and bit-crushed melodies, cascading through a waterfall of arpeggios, initially ushered through the speakers by Penthouse Penthouse (of Team Supreme) who have supported us as openers throughout the tour.  Team Supreme are proteges of Producer-turned-teacher Steve Nalepa of Dubspot; one of The Glitch Mob’s first ever songs was a remix of Nalepa’s “Monday”, adding steam to the theory of band manager Kev Wolff that “It All Lends Itself.”

Penthouse Penthouse perfectly sets the scene for Ana Sia, crate-digging legend of the LA Beat scene, to ignite the dancefloor with her own electric spin.  As a DJ who knows her music A side to B, one song leads smoothly into another, the steady pulse of beats and bass breaking just long enough for the audience to catch their second, third, and fifth wind.

Ana Sia on decks

Ana Sia on decks

 

The combined force of two consistently solid openers creates the perfect storm for The Glitch Mob to blow open the floodgates, letting loose a maelstrom of melody.  This last show in particular – with a hyped crowd and spotless performance – was a great way to close out the first run of the tour to a sold-out room, with well over 2,000 fans lighting up the night.  Our first stretch as a team – and the first time TGM has played live in nearly 4 years – has served as a testing ground for The Blade, (pictured below), and the many elements that power it.

TGM_Bandshot2

Our next run navigates us through a winding landscape of music festivals, each with their own quirks, some tossing slow-balls and others aiming to throw a rock in the machine.  However, by sorting through the spontaneous technical challenges in these first few weeks – refining, rethinking and even overhauling our methods, we are all growing more honed in sharpening our skills and – collectively – The Blade.

While we’re only a month or so into the tour, the scope of the new things I’ve learned is hard to put into words.  The music I produce as Anoctave (if you’re interested, my Soundcloud) has already adapted, from seeing up-close how masters of the craft apply song structure, balancing different instruments and their roles in the song, while maintaining a moving and cohesive experience throughout a performance that many will retain for a lifetime.

Next up – Ultra Music Festival in Miami, followed by Coachella, Electric Forest, and many dates in between.  Aside from festivals, we will be playing venues the West Coast and Midwest, so if you’re near LA or San Francisco be sure to see it for yourself!  I’m especially looking forward to The Warfield where I’ve enjoyed life-changing performances from Amon Tobin and Skrillex, one of my absolute favorite venues in my hometown of SF!

If you have any comments/pictures to post please feel free to send – I will continue to update this blog with our next leg (starting with Coachella) and my time on the road.  Hope to see you soon!

Sig5
Ian Hicks – FOH