AND WE’RE OFF (ON) AGAIN…
- Posted by Rich Spillberg
- On May 18, 2013
- 0 Comments
Hey Good People!
I’m currently at Heathrow Airport in London awaiting a connecting flight to Moscow. We will start the second leg of our world tour there Sunday night at the Crocus City Hall, and I’m pretty excited about that on a few levels. One, we are back in business – back on tour. It seems like the first leg of the tour, which ended only three weeks ago in Australia and New Zealand, was ages ago – mainly because of the amount of promo work we have done since then (more on that below). The other reason I am excited is because I have never been to Russia before, and being of Russian blood, it’s a bit of a milestone for me. I’ll document in photos as I do.
Promo, man. It has been a whirlwind in the last few weeks, and ironically, none of the work has been officially part of the tour. As I have said before, I really like promo, because it takes you to different places – not just different cities, but different types of venues. That being said, sometimes, when a lot of promo is scheduled in a small window of time, it can get a little hectic.
As I left off in the last entry below, we were about to do a BWB style show in Minneapolis. The show was a fundraiser event for the Treehouse foundation, through Target. Although the show went great, we were a skeleton crew on this gig, relying on local companies, and it was a bit of an uphill climb for us in getting it all together, where we were scrambling until the last minute to get the audio and musical equipment (Backline) in proper working order. When putting on one of our shows with a skeleton crew – we normally do promo events with anywhere between 2 and 5 crew members – we rely heavily on the local companies to have their systems in working order. If this were one of our productions, we would have familiar equipment, and we would also have our full crew setting up the PA, lights, video, and backline. We would allow enough time to properly check all of the equipment prior to soundcheck and rehearsals. In this case, the locally hired companies got there early to set up the PA, lights, video, and backline based on our advanced requirements, and we arrived at a pre-determined time to plug in our gear and soundcheck. The problem was that the audio was not entirely patched correctly, and some of the backline was not working – in particular, one side of the Rhodes, and also the midi functionality of the grand piano.
Don’t get me wrong – in our world on tour, we have malfunctions of equipment. Carrying instruments and sensitive electrical systems (audio, lights and video) in the back of trucks for weeks on end is not a great formula for equipment longevity. That is actually why we carry our crew of techs – a guitar tech, a keyboard tech, a drum tech, audio techs, lighting techs, video techs, etc… These guys (myself included) know the gear inside and out, and can make repairs on the fly to make sure that not only does the show happen smoothly, but also the soundchecks and rehearsals. Again, this is all part of the “Invisibility” that I spoke about in a previous entry below.
Normally, local companies have it all together, and quite frankly, the crews we worked with on this event were top notch – it was just that certan things were missed, and it caused us to push until the last minute – a position in which we rarely like to be. In the end, we had it all together, and the show went well, and really, that is all that matters. Par for the course…
The next morning, we woke up to find a snowstorm sitting over Minneapolis, and we were scheduled to fly to Frankfurt Germany via Chicago that morning. Wouldn’t you know, the flight to Chicago was delayed, and we started to become concerned that we wouldn’t catch the connecting flight to Frankfurt. This was troubling, because the performance was to be the next night in Mannheim at a heavyweight boxing match. Even if we caught the flight on time, it would have gotten us into Frankfurt in the morning with only a few hours to get to the venue.
Leave it to our amazing tour manager Dennis Brennan to pull a rabbit out of his hat in the form of first looking around the country for flights to Frankfurt that we could catch, and then finding a private jet for us to get to the chosen airport. We ended up taking said private jet to JFK airport in New York, and then caught the flight to Frankfurt.
We arrived in Frankfurt with enough time to get to the hotel, shower, and then head out to SAP Arena, in Mannheim – about 1 hour drive. When we got there, we did the typical scoping out of the venue – meeting the audio people and the production people. Once we had our understanding of the gig, we set out to make sure soundcheck would be technically ready. One of the jobs I have when we do broadcast promo events is to advise on the audio mix of the broadcast, and for this event, we were in good hands. I was able to convey a few thoughts to the mix engineer, and he “got” it. I also had the challenge to get with the front of house mixer to make sure he understood what we needed out there, and he got it as well.
For me, this was a particularly special event to be a part of, because I absolutely love boxing, especially seeing it live. I can remember my dad taking me and my brother to the Boston Garden – when I was 10 or 11 years old – to see Marvin Hagler box – actually many times – and it was so exciting to watch. I actually hadn’t been to a boxing match since then, and for me the sport hasn’t lost a beat. There is something about hearing the punches hit a body, and hearing the breath of a boxer as he hits someone that takes you into the fight. It’s addictive, and you soon find yourself choosing one of the fighters to win. It’s amazing. I also got the chance to meet Michael Buffer, the man behind the “Let’s Get Ready To Rummmmmbbbllllleeeee” phrase. He was such a nice guy, and welcomed me to sit down with him to talk. I told him about my history with seeing boxing and he mentioned that he sees Marvin Hagler every so often. It was a great night indeed.
In fact, that’s all it was – a night. After the event, we went back to the hotel, where Josh’s label met us for a few drinks, and then it was off to sleep because we had a flight home to catch. Whew!
I was home Sunday late in the afternoon with two free days to catch up with my family, and then it was off again – this time to NYC for two TV appearances; “The View, and CBS This Morning. I took the Amtrak Acela into New York Wednesday night, and you’d figure that would be uneventful, but due to some suspicious looking guys on the train, and their suspicious activities, that train ride included a stop in New Haven where bomb sniffing dogs came on board, and then another stop, where a police officer came on board to watch the suspicious guys from a seat right next to them.
The next day we went down to ABC studios to do the View, and t was a textbook promo show for us. I must say the crew there is top notch, and everything went very smoothly. Cheers to RJ and the broadcast mix team there for letting me get fully hands on with the mix – a great bunch.
The following day after that we went to CBS Studios to do the CBS This Morning show. This was a taped performance that was to be aired the next day. All went well there too, and thanks again to them for letting me in on a great mix.
After the show I drove back home, and had an extended stay this time – 6 full days! And now it’s out again. This time with a more solid routine – maybe a sprinkle of promo, but once again on tour…
More to come…