So this morning was going pretty smooth. Rehearsal was smooth. 1st Service was pretty smooth. No problems. We should have cancelled the rest of the morning because it really wasn’t going to get much better. Of course we didn’t and come second service we hit a few bumps and one of them happened in my world.

We often try and do what we call an “opener” or “closer” during our series which is typically a song that fits thematically with the days message and are often mainstream songs. This morning we were doing a Switchfoot tune as an opener and as our lead singer headed out to the stage, his mic died. Of course I didn’t know this at the time, and you can guess how thrilled I was when he started singing, and I had nothing at FOH. I quickly noticed the meters on the BGV channel had a lot of signal for a mic that wasn’t supposed to be in use on that particular song. I took a chance assuming he had grabbed the wrong mic backstage and threw the fader up only missing the first couple lines of the song. That was fine for the short term, but I had an effect patched to his original mic that I needed later in the song. A quick flip to the Venue’s patchbay let me repatch the mic he was using into his original channel. I waited for a break in the verse to swap the BGV channel for the his original channel and instantly had all my effects and processing back. My guess is to the average attender or visitor, they probably had very little idea that there were any problems at all as I was able to do all this before the 2nd half of the first verse hit with the whole band coming in.

In almost a year of being down here, I think this was the biggest issue I’ve encountered, and I think our lack of trouble in services is largely due to the inordinate amount of preparation we put in each week. Our staff is on site about 90 minutes before we start rehearsal–can you say 5:30am? Production volunteers arrive 30-45 minutes after us. The reality is we could all probably roll in a lot later and get away with things, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that I firmly believe the extra time is the reason why in a year we haven’t had any major problems during a service. Well that and all the preparation we do during the week. Sure the line checking and double-checking can get repetitive and often seem unnecessary, but it really does makes a big difference. There’s a reason you see crews at major concerts running around and line checking between the opening act and headliner.

Of course things like our mic going dead will still happen from time to time no matter how much you check things, but one of the benefits of doing all that prep is that it’s a lot easier to stay calm and levelheaded when trouble hits. And that levelheadedness makes it easier and faster to troubleshoot and solve problems on the fly. This morning our M2 quickly tossed the singer the BGV’s mic as he was heading out onto stage because there wasn’t enough time to grab the backup mic off the front row. There wasn’t even enough time to contact us at FOH. Everyone was thinking on their feet, and we were rolled with it. I’m sure I’ll spend some time this week trying to figure out if there’s a better system we can have in place for when these problems hit, but I think our team did a great job of handling the situation this morning. If you routinely show up five minutes before the band and find yourself consistently running into trouble on Sunday morning, I highly suggest you look at your schedule and think about showing up a little earlier. That extra time can go a long way towards a successful morning.

David Stagl

3 Responses to “Crash

  • Hey Dave, we’re trying to figure out a solution for the same “if a mic dies” problem, let us all know when you have a good solution!

    Also, I’m definitely always looking for ways to improve the sound of my VOX, especially our lead VOX, any chance you can outline what kind of effects or plugins you tend to throw down on your VOX channels?

  • Well, we actually have a plan for when a mic dies. We always have a backup mic wth our front stage manager who sits in the front row. But that’s more for a failure that happens in the middle of a segment. This morning the mic died literally as he was walking through the curtain and caught that it wasn’t working in his monitors in time to grab a mic before heading out. The solution might be to move our backup mic permanently or to have a separate backup for music that stays backstage. I don’t know. We’ll probably talk about it in our production meeting on Monday afternoon.

    Good question about vox. I’ll do a separate post on that.

  • Well said, Dave. I am often heard saying “Planning will set you free!” Your post demonstrates that so well. If your whole team was busy scrambling trying to tie up last minute details before the service (ones that should have been dealt with days earlier…) they would not have been as clear-headed and able to solve a sticky situation so quickly.

    We live strictly in analog world for now, and while we have a spare vocal mic on stage, swapping it to the proper channel requires a quick trip to the back of the board. Thankfully, we’ve not needed to do that (yet!).