Photo by Patrick Correia
Q: I have a question regarding how I might get my sound man to successfully change all the monitors on stage, (5 stage mixes) before a song with a different lead singer and making the original lead singer a backup and not in the musicians mix anymore. Changing to a song that is led by a female while still having the male vocal part in our monitor mix is quite annoying. It really causes problems especially if you are the one singing the lead. Yet after asking the sound guy he claims that he changes it in the mains and we should just roll with it. Is that realistic?
A: The sound-person has two jobs, when it comes down to it, assuming that you don’t have separate front of house (FOH) and monitor engineers. They need to dial in the room and make the music sound good for the audience and they need to dial monitor mixes so that the band is comfortable and able to play well.
It sounds as if you have a steady sound man for your gigs (one person for all shows, not a different person every night). If that is the case, there is zero reason why they can’t make notes on the set list to bump one vocal and/or drop another 2db on this song or that. There is likely a line to be drawn but occasional mix changes in the set is a part of the gig both for FOH and monitors.
I’ve had any number of bands where the sound person knew to bump the piano in the main vocal mix for certain tunes, for example. You write it on the set list and there it is. If they’re already doing their job and tweaking each tune for the house, it’s a small thing to change a monitor mix or two. I wouldn’t ask them to have mix changes for every tune but the occasional tweak is a part of the gig, in my opinion.
The best situation is one where your band has a dedicated monitor person (especially if everyone has a different mix and/or every one is using in-ear monitors). If your band is gigging steadily and doing well enough, it might be worth it to hire a monitor engineer who can sit stage right or left and tweak the set as any musician needs – both pre-determined changes and on the fly hand signals.
Do any of you readers make the occasional buck running sound? Please add your two cents and take this as an opportunity to make those of us with no experience (but a lot of preferences) more aware of the reality of your gig. Please share in the comments.