It happens again. Summer is here, as well as the big festival season with lot’s of concerts. For the causal listener it means: fun! For us though it means: work, lot’s of work. But before the Mega Cube trucks arrive with the equipment, there’s plenty to do.
Besides the obvious personal stuff, there’s a long list of to do’s before the journey begin.
Data, data, data
The first and probably one of the most important thing is to read and re-read all the riders so we know everything, every possible need or possible variation. That compiled list gives the basis of the final equipment list. So if you ever wondered how on earth these things get organised, this is how. At least two or three of us plough through all riders, notoriously making note of everything which can be of any importance. This includes microphones, digital snakes, consoles, plugins, custom configs, etc.
When everyone is ready, we have a big meeting and go through the riders once again together, only to see if we know everything. If we’re absolutely sure about that, the next step is to compile an equipment list which must comprise everything from incoming power boxes through microphones to FOH and monitor consoles.
This year the festival consoles going to be a Yamaha PM5D for monitors and a Avid Venue for FOH. Why? Because it turns out that the vast majority of the riders still require the good old PM5D for monitors and at least 96% of the riders require or accept the Venue as the FOH console.
For the last few years we had an analogue multicore next to the digital ones, but as no one used it for years now, this year we’ll only have a small analogue return cable from the FOH to stage. The multicores are all digital now. Double redundant Coax for the Venue (can be used for other Madi based consoles) and double redundant armoured Cat5 cables for Midas consoles and for direct ethernet communication. This is an area where digital is really a win win. Analogue multicores are heavy, pricey and more prone to gather noise, and to be honest, fails more. On the other side, digital snakes are cheap, rarely fail, and even if you have a bad connection many times it can be solved with a BNC or an Ethernet crimper.
I know it’s all so obvious, but still, this is vital for many reasons. You MUST USE ear protection if you happen to work in a festival environment. If we really add up the time of sound checks and the shows you’ll spend way too much time in very high SPL. Your hearing can be damaged by this, and as it turned out a few years ago, it scientifically proven that your nervous system also have a very hard time if you don’t mitigate the continuous SPL. So basically, you’ll get extremely exhausted from the continuous high SPL music.
These can be simple earplugs, musicians earplugs (with more smooth frequency resp.) and earmuffs. I use a combination of these, and to be honest in extreme cases I use earplugs plus earmuffs if it’s getting so unbearably loud (happens often with DJ acts).
Dehydration can be a very serious problem. You’ll spend 10–16 hours working in very hot environment (sometimes as high as 36–40 degrees Celsius/104 Farenheit) so you must drink plenty. For your own sake forget anything alcoholic drink. Also don’t forget that your body need salt and sugar too. It is a very good idea to keep track of your drinking habits during these working days.
So in short this is it. I know most of this is obvious, yet still, so many forget these basic things. Other than this, enjoy the festivals.