Steve Maggiora (Courtesy of Music in Press)

Sound Guys

We at unEARTH Music Hub absolutely LOVE local music. Especially live, local music. Just about anybody can create a halfway decent studio album these days, but it takes a truly special band to pull off that face-melting, mind-exploding collaborative effort that is a live performance. With that said, there are very few things that can take an otherwise killer performance and make it substantially underwhelming. One of those things is the sound guy. You know, the dude in the back of every music venue pushing and turning all those buttons and knobs.

For the most part, OC music venues employ audio guys that can get the job done, even if not very well. However, this past Tuesday at the OC Music Awards (hosted by the Yost Theater) we experienced the rare exception. The night started off sounding pretty good and I’m speculating that it can be attributed to the fact that the first band received a thorough sound check. It was all downhill from there. Unfortunately, the Devious Means, a crowd favorite, had to bear the brunt of the night’s audio incompetence. They are a solid five piece, recipients of last year’s OC Music Awards People’s Choice Award, and one of the strongest and unique groups in Orange County. However, if I were to close my eyes and listen from my position in the pit, I would’ve sworn that they had a very loud singer and drummer playing the smallest drum kit of all time. The rest of the band may have well taken a nap for the first few songs because not a peep could be heard from any of them. It wasn’t until Rachel, their co-singer and keyboardist, stopped to say something to the crowd that the sound guy even bothered to turn her up to an audible level. Unbelievably disappointing considering how much energy and rehearsal they were clearly displaying on stage.

After the Devious Means’ set, I met up with two other UMH team members but oddly they had nothing negative to say about the sound quality. Turns out that they were standing so close to the stage that they got to hear the direct sound and monitor mixes instead of experiencing the filth oozing from the mains. Worst of all, this show was a competition, the first of seven, and to think that the sound reinforcement may play a role in the judges’ perception of the band is a little heartbreaking. Shoutout to our friend Steve Maggiora (pictured above, courtesy of Music In Press) for salvaging the night for Jeramiah Red by taking the helm at the audio console.

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: If you’re a sh*tty sound guy, stick to what you know and stop ruining shows.

-Josh Davis