Rubbing elbows and running sound

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So, I've been doing more and more sound gigs, primarily for Kiki from Kiki's House of Righteous Music and have enjoyed it a great deal. It's a good opportunity for me to have fun, forget about daily life, and keep my sound engineering skills honed.

Most of the shows are (quite honesty) smaller shows with non-mainstream acts. Everyone she invites to play at her place is very talented - don't get me wrong. In fact, most are truly incredible artists; they just aren't household name-type bands.

Well, last night, I ran sound for a double-header set, featuring The Baseball Project. I have to admit that I wasn't familiar with them until Sunday morning, when I decided to check them out online prior to heading over to Kiki's.

And then I freaked out a bit.

Three of the members are from the legendary musical group, REM. Yes - the REM. Shiny Happy People. Stand. End of the World. Everybody Hurts. Yes, those guys/legends. 85-million-records-sold-REM.

Per request, I arrived at 2:30pm to load-in the equipment. The band members were over at Miller Park, where they threw out the opening pitch, sang the National Anthem, and performed the 7th inning stretch.

So, it was just me, the tour manager, and some legendary equipment.

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John (tour manager) and I got things loaded-in, configured, and sound-checked by about 4:45pm. At around 5pm, the band arrived, custom-made Brewers jerseys and all. We chatted a bit, ran through a song, made a few minor adjustments, and called it good.

The first show was scheduled to start at 5:30pm, which didn't leave much time for dinner prior to the show. Kiki made us a Thai-chicken curry salad, a Greek salad with Arborio, and had some snacks (hummus, pitas, chips, salsa). The band's rider called for those dishes, and she nailed them (that's a bonus for working with Kiki - she always provides an awesome meal).

While we were nibbling on the food, I looked outside of Kiki's house, and there was a line of around 50-people standing on her sidewalk, waiting to get in. I've never seen that before. She said both shows sold out "in minutes" - I guess lots of people knew what a treat this was going to be.

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The first set ran from around 5:45 until 7pm or so. The band quickly signed autographs, took pictures, and chilled out for a few minutes before starting their second set at 8pm. Once again, the place was packed to capacity... There had to be 60-65 people at each show, which is *a lot* of people in a small basement.

The band was outstanding. So professional, so precise, so dynamic and "natural." But they were loud. Holy cats, were they loud. I guess when you're used to playing stadiums, you naturally crank up your volume a bit.

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The second set ended at around 9:45pm, but the crowd was insane, and demanded an encore. The band obliged, came back on, and *really* cranked it up. The last few songs were painfully loud and I had a hard time keeping a decent balance in the mix, but I guess it sounded ok.

With the shows over, we took down the stage, loaded everything into the band's Mercedes Benz van, and then hung out at Kiki's for a few hours. The band just mingled about until the fans all left, at which point it was just the small group of us - maybe 8-10 people at the most. We sat around, chatting, sharing stories, and eating the rest of the dinner food. We might have also drank a few brews... ;-)

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What a great group of folks. The band was so gracious - they thanked me profusely for "the awesome sound" and for "being easy to work with." I told them they made it all so easy on me, that anybody could've done what I did. The tour manager said, "Believe me - we've been wrecked by bad sound guys in the past. You are a true pro. Awesome job, my man."

I was just floored. They gave me their latest album and all signed it. This is getting framed and hung on the wall, pronto.

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As cool as the entire evening was, perhaps the true highlight was when I got to play Mike Mills' bass guitar during the first sound check. What's so great about that, you ask?

Oh, nothing. Other than the fact that it's the bass he used to record 11 of their 15 albums. Oh, and it's scheduled to go into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame next year. Too crazy.

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Sometime around 1am, we decided to call it a night and head home, but not before Kiki snapped a quick picture of all of us. It's a bit dark and poorly lit, but you'll get the idea.

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What a night and experience.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steve published on August 11, 2014 11:08 AM.

Another camping trip... but with a twist. was the previous entry in this blog.

Two fish frys: Avenue Bar, Mickey's Tavern, & Baldwin Street Grille is the next entry in this blog.

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