Teching a PA should be treated with the same kind of care as mixing the band. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’ – where have I heard that before? The PA tech can definitely make or break a show as much as the mixing engineer. Touring bands are not always fortunate enough to travel with their own production, and even if they do they rely on the audio systems tech to keep things up to snuff.
A systems technician is a question/answer man, an advisory board and handy man all rolled into one. The performer’s engineer has been hired for a reason and that should be respected. Although you may not agree with their methods, you are there to accommodate and make sure the system runs at its best, safely.
There are many things that can be done prior to the artist’s engineer arriving that will help keep the day and yourself together:
- PA and console functioning properly, free of noises such as ground buzzes
- talk back mic, CD and/or cassette for playback
- outboard gear (effects, inserts, functioning)
- inserts (if any) ready to be patched
- board taped, not necessarily labelled (engineers may word things differently than yourself)
- space and AC available if the engineer carries any of their own outboard equipment
- knowledge of the system in use, its flexibility and limits, both to be respected by yourself and the touring engineer
Keeping lines of communication open all day is very healthy. Make sure things are going well and functioning properly but stay out of the way, keeping in an eye’s distance. (It’s not a good idea to take a lunch break during the band’s sound check!)
When all is said and done, what it boils down to is showing respect for the club and/or PA company you are representing and having that reciprocated by the touring engineer.
*Trevor C. Coppen, freelance sound technician based in Toronto, Ontario. Trevor has been touring recently with the Barra McNeils and is currently in the U.S. with Moxy Früvous. *