How To Keep The Sound Guy From Ruining Your Show

make friends with the sound guy

Photo: Chris Costes via Flickr


No matter how good you think your live show is, the sound guy/gal doesn’t care. Regardless of whether or not the crowd connected with your music or you played your heart out, a sound mixer just wants everything to go off without a hitch. So if you’re dealing with the foldback (mixing the monitors for the band) or the front of house (mixing for the audience), the point is to get the band on, make everything sound good and get them off.

Of course, what constitutes “good” is where you run into problems. There are other issues to possibly cover at a later date, but what starts the most arguments between bands and sound mixers will rage on until the end of time – Turning Down Your Amps: Yes or No?

The short answer is “No,” while the slightly longer answer is, “No, but don’t be a jerk about it.”

Sound mixers are going to ask you to turn down because the club is paying them to prioritize their mics and speakers over what you want. And while you may demand they showcase your gorgeous distorted tone, they’re more concerned you’ll damage the club’s expensive gear for the sake of a 30-minute set.

But there is a simple solution: Don’t use the PA. There’s no club rule that states you need mics on your amps. If you truly are that loud then just tell the guy to make sure the electronics, vocals and kick drum are taken care of and you’ll blow out eardrums all by yourself.

But you don’t have to act like you’re making some grand artistic statement. Just explain that this is what you prefer because, in the end, it still is your band. And make sure the band holds up their end of the bargain:

Don’t Waste Time: The band that goofs off or takes forever to set up infuriates a lot of people, including the sound guy waiting to check the snare mic. If you don’t respect their job, they have no reason to do a good one.

Don’t be Finicky on Stage: Your instrument has disappeared in the monitor and something else is blaring at you. Of course you should ask for a fix, but don’t ask too much. Remember that the person rocking out always looks better than the one constantly looking off stage and pointing their finger up or down.

Do Say Thank You: Maybe you didn’t use monitors and have no idea how it actually went. Maybe you played bad and are in a bad mood. That’s no excuse to not be grateful. This person went through the trouble of trying to get an optimal sound in a room they probably know better than you. Plus, there are more bands in a town than sound guys; if you want to continue playing shows with the least amount of problems, don’t make enemies with the guy or gal who knows where the Suck Button is located.

Shane Mehling FOLLOW >

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.