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Maties RAG fest '10: The show with no sound engineer

Hendrik van Huyssteen's view

You know that show on the braak each year after vlotte? Yeah, we all do. Turns out it’s called Maties RAG fest, by the way. I’m no stranger this event, but this year, even I was surprised.

I was hired to do sound for the headlining band later the day, but I checked in earlier just to have a listen. I greeted a few people and thereafter turned my attention to the stage. Taxi Violence were on and it sounded TRAGIC. Tragic not because of the band, but because of the poor sound quality. Tragic in such a way that people more beered up than Paris Hilton in a car were asking me, “What’s going on...with the....the...with the sound, dude?” That’s pretty much the point you know things are horribly wrong. After letting them know that I’m not working, I also started wondering what’s going on.

At first I thought the sound engineer was wearing some beer goggles himself, as this is a pretty common sight nowadays at these “no one cares” shows. (Just because the whole crowd is drunk doesn’t mean the sound engineer can also be, but that’s a different story.)

Anyway, after looking for Musical Mover & Shaker in the VIP section, I made my way to the sound booth. On my way there I wanted to get some Coke (the drink) but found it was "sold out." How can you not have Coke for a blazing hot summers day? Fail guys, FAIL! But I’m getting sidetracked again, sorry.

So back to the soundbooth story: What did I find once I got there? No beer goggles. Or a sound engineer to wear them. No one, except for some guy sitting on an upside down cooler box, doing nothing. Below is a video I shot. (It’s seven seconds, your cap can handle it)

In short: No one was controlling the sound. Normally, you would have a sound engineer in the sound booth trying to look cool and at least making it sound decent. Bands usually bring their own sound engineer, but when they don’t, the sound company provides one for them. Not in this case. The system was running itself, causing it to sound like band practice in your next-door neighbour’s garage.

One can argue that the band should have cared enough to hire a sound engineer to mix for them (we are not THAT expensive), but not really. I blame the sound company, who actually isn’t a sound company. Were these guys understaffed? Overworked? Underpaid? Only there to sell booze? I don’t care. Get a sound engineer behind that desk.
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