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AUS220 - Live sound for EDM

Last week for our Live Sound Intensive tutorial with Tim Dalton, our group was given charge to set-up the stage for an EDM performance. We were given 40 minutes to get the PA and Foldbacks running and as it was our first time doing so for an actual gig, those 40 minutes didn’t feel like enough.

The day started with me rushing to the soundstage for my 10 am class trying not to be late (My Tram had ditched me off two stops before my uni because of track repairs happening near Clarendon St. Stop 124). As soon as I entered the soundstage, trying to catch my breath and taking relief that I made it on time, I was handed over a piece of paper (The stage plan) from Tim and was asked to set up the stage in 40 minutes. The area was bustling with students from EDM diploma who were going to perform that day. The energy in the room only added to the anxiety that I was already experiencing from the timeframe given. Our group started taking out all the cables from the stage cable box piling them on the main stage. We were all so pumped with fear and anxiety that we couldn’t even hear Tim shouting to us multiple times “Get the PA running”! By the time we could make out that Tim was saying something, there was a bad mess of cables on the stage, which made Tim unhappy. Then, after a bit of scolding, we hurriedly sorted out and rolled back all the cables putting them back in to the cable trunk and started all over again. 15 minutes had already passed and it was at this time that we realized, we’d messed up.

The whole situation was getting chaotic and out of control and I felt as if I had forgotten everything that Tim taught us in the past couple of weeks. All the performers were looking at us and I could sense that they knew we were not doing so well. I could hear them sniggering and giggle and it felt really embarrassing.

Then, to our relief, Tim started pushing us into finishing the job and by keeping an eye on us, he helped us whenever we got stuck. Boom! It was 10:40 and we had everything up and running. We were all so relieved that we made it on time and I could see the resentment on the performers’ faces slowly change to contentment.

I was still sweating and panting from the 40-minute episode when suddenly, Tim exclaimed, “It was all planned! We did it on purpose!” And, it was the first time since morning that the group had a smile on their face. All that pressure and scolding was to help us learn and understand how it works in the ‘real world’, Tim explained. After this, once the ‘House’ and the ‘Front of the House’ were up and running, all we had to do was relax and enjoy the performance.

I’m really thankful to Tim for giving us this opportunity to learn how a ‘real world’ situation would be like and the things we’ll have to prepare for as Live sound engineers. Now I understand that there is a lot more to Live sound than just plugging in cables and turning the knobs and faders up. It also has a lot to do with keeping your calm and cool during the stage set-up and handling the pressure efficiently.

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