Quality, price, service – pick any 2…. musings from the “days gone by” department

Anecdote time (I quiet down after nurse brings my meds, really….).

A decade or so back I was BE for a regional country act, we carried rented PA to supplement the band’s stage/monitor package. We pulled up to Bob’s Western Wasteland (not even up to Country Bunker standards), a 1000 cap club in Prison City, Oklahoma and saw that the club was featuring a show with another act on Saturday. We were playing a 3 night sit down (we thought). We became the opener on Sat. I figured we’d get screwed into providing production for the show, too, but….

We move in PA, setup & sound check. Everything is good. At the end of the first night the manager informs me that our production needs to be struck to accommodate the Saturday Gig. They have storage, they have staff to move the gear after we get it ready. I asked to leave my snake (flown) in place, NP, they say.

My Saturday morning cartoon watching is interrupted by a phone call telling me I need to come to the club and get the snake down. Shit. “What time do you need it gone by?” “Noon, the production loads in then.” I get to the club at 11:30 and a bar back helps me. I have a coffee, look at the clock at it’s 12:15. No production. I’ve got my band’s backline stuff as far from the stage as I can get it, but I go shuffle it around some more. Another coffee. It’s 1:30. No production. I head to the WallyMart next door to do some people watching.

About 3 pm, I head back to the club in time to see a retired moving van backing up to the stage entrance. Shortly after, I see a motor coach. It’s time to meet and greet…

The second guy off the bus comes up to me, introduces himself as the BE for the headliner and starts asking me questions. I stop him and point to the 2 guys moving cases stenciled with the name “Flaxen Harlot”. “I’m with the support act,” I tell him.

Eventually the Harlots get the PA stacked, snake run (on the floor, mine could have stayed) and amp racks connected. The BE & I tip the mixer and Harlot #1 scurries out to patch it. At that point they fire up the rig and devote their attention to the monitor end of the snake. BE puts in a CD and the fun commences.

After about 5 minutes of not being able to determine if Left und Right are correctly wired, we start following the patching of the drive rack. Harlot #1 sees us and calls out. “Oh, the crossover took a dump the other night, the highs are in mono from the right side, but the mids and 18s are in stereo!” The BE just gives me “the look” and says “if you don’t mind, I’ll repatch the rig for mono in all the pass bands.” I help him chase wires and he gets the rig up and making noise.

Noise. That was what 1/3 of the 18s made. Humm. Buzz. Free with every input signal. Another 1/3 made no noise (or sound) at all. This never changed in spite of being brought to the attention of the Harlots. The remaining 1/3 worked. I took the BE to where our gear was stored. “I’d have gladly taken this rig, why did they bring in that stuff?”

It gets even more interesting as we work out monitor issues. First thing I see is the center mix, 2 wedges, one of which has a hole about the diameter of a beer can in the cone. Headline BE listens to it, shrugs his shoulders and moves to non-working mixes 2 & 3. Harlot #2 has no clue. I’m not sure he’s ever touched a mixer before… Eventually the headline act is sorted out. Anyway, my band must have 12 inputs (of 19) to 4 mixes. There are 7 unused inputs at the end of the desk. Harlot #2 says “we’re out of channels.” The patch for the headline act is 1 for 1, so things like overheads and tom toms show up at the desk but were not used in any of the mixes. “Unplug those drum channels and put my band’s other 5 inputs in there. I have an XLR loom if you need it.” Blank look from Harlot #2. The MC/DJ is announcing the start of the show “after this song”. I scream at Harlot #2 to get out of my way. The headline BE nods at me and goes to FOH while I patch monitors. He does a line check with my band while I rough in the mixes.

We play our 45 minute slot, I help stow the back line and head to the bar. The BE has found a couple of quirks with the desk, and I think we both need a Scotch infusion…

Morals of this story: everything a club owner tells you is bullshit and the level of incompetence accepted because of a low price is simply astounding.

Okay, I’ll take those pills now, nurse…

Tim, I have a vaguely similar story from Nashville... Seems some folks just don't understand.