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May 16, 2017

Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

My trio, Dick Tater & The Tots (a/k/a The Cubs ) has split up again. No internal personality problems this time, just economics.

In light of the LOUD-venue, ambient sound discussions going on, this is pertinent, as the reason for the breakup was that our bassist left to join a busier, more popular, way-way-way louder band.

Our band has been much loved by folks our age (50’s) who enjoy our 60’s music and clean, clear, sound. Unfortunately, in our area, this is not the demographic that goes out to bars. They’ve been conditioned to believe all bars are loud and smoky, and in fact, though smoking is now illegal, is still quite true. Loud bands prevail.

We have shot ourselves in the foot by using the Bose L1s to present our music. Finally, we are happy with our on-stage sound, we love to play, and have gotten better by virtue of our sound system. Back in ’04 I was truly hoping and believing the world was going to change to this approach to sound and volume.

But it now appears that we are not satisfying the Saturday Night audience’s lust for loud. We also do the wrong music for the Saturday Night Crowd. In fact, our bassist’s wife said at dinner the other week that we “are just not a Saturday Night Band”. I was a bit shocked and dismayed, but realize she is right. Around here, it’s got to be classic rock, and it’s got to be played very loud.

I would, in my paranoia about being 57, say that audiences also want musicians who are young and cute, but that’s actually not the case. So many successful bands around here are my age and older, but the play the “right” music, 70’s & 80’s Classic rock , and they play it LOUD! There are no compromise on that…it’s got to be LOUD, or the kids will clear out pretty quickly.

There are still plenty of bands here who are blissfully unaware of what they really sound like through the PA mains. They wear ear plugs or IEMs. They are very lucky, in that they have no knowledge of what a band can sound like “on stage” in front of L1s. Ignorance is bliss, and is making them money. I feel sorry for them, yet envy them, they are getting the gigs.

Bottom line though, I’m turning into my parents. It’s mostly us old guys who say things like I’m now saying. It’s like the T-shirt I saw on an old local rocker last summer, Joe Cook, a wildly popular guitarist from the 70’s circuit, which reads, “If we’re too loud, you’re too old”. He’s older than I am. I’m convinced he’s insane, but he’s taking it to the bank.

I’m slowing down, and the L1 gets heavier by the gig, but I am still doing it and hope to for a few more years yet. It’s just a matter of finding sensible musicians and audiences. It’s challenging.

I don’t have any answers here…just saying. My future in music is up in the air right now. I’m going to a few open mics, a format that accepts acoustic music at lower volumes, and keeping my eyes open for something new. It’s been a really enjoyable 6+ years with the L1 and the friendships I’ve made here in the forums and at the L1 Conferences. I’m reminded of something ST said at the Big Sur gathering, “you know, if it [the L1] gives us [older guys] at least another 10 years to do what we love, it’s so worth it!” He was so right.
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Jan 16, 2009

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

Hell Drumr,

Thank you for speaking out your heart. Your assessment of the situation is exactly how I feel and you laid it out in words nicely and thoroughly. I too have taken on the L1s for their quality of sound and portability. And I found out the hard way that there are different solutions to different group of people. The winner is always the one who knows how to adjust himself/herself to best fit with the surrounding condition. So, when I learned to accept the type of audience for my performance, I am at peace with myself and, yes, the L1s despite how NOT loud other people said it is.

People in this forum have said it over and over again that music is neither right nor wrong. It is how people perceive it that matters. So, let everyone experience and enjoy the music to their liking. Only then, true beauty of music is shined. Go L1s!
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Apr 12, 2004

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

Hi Pete,
I'm sorry to hear about the breakup, as well as the local live music situation.

I attended a party on Saturday with a DJ....I was seated on the far side of a large dance floor. I found myself having the worst time trying to carry on a conversation. I had to move right next to the person I was talking to, and have them repeat themselves, while I leaned my ear toward them. We were both practically yelling at the time, mind you!

I found myself getting a bit irritated with that situation....the music was good, and I danced a lot, but the whole evening would have been so much more enjoyable with some stimulating conversation.

With the L1 systems, we have proven time and time again that it is totally unnecessary to give people a good time by blasting out their eardrums.

I'm seeing the same situation here out West, and, to be honest, DJs are dominating venues these days in my home town. Personally, we are going to continue to "serve the music".....and people that want loud will have the option to go elsewhere.

Best Wishes,
Jeff
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Dec 5, 2004

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

Hi Drumr. Sorry to hear about the "Tots". I know you had a lot of effort invested there.

I don't know if entertainment in your area has a "season", but my gigs taper off a lot in the Winter. Basketball games, football games and cozy living rooms are also my competition.

I'm sure you will get another band together soon. I think only another entertainer could understand this, but for me entertaining is a good kind of addiction that is hard to put down.

Maximum respect,
Andy
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Dec 15, 2003

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

Hey Pete - bummer - sad, too bad, and familiar.

Our group SOUNDS better than ever, but played maybe 4 or 5 times last year. We have chosen NOT to play the bars 9pm til 2am circuit, and the private party, corporate event scene has just dried up. We'll hang on another year, see how it goes.

I play solo regularly, enjoy it and am thankful for this.

Hang in there man, something will happen!

Best, Mike
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Jun 16, 2005

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

I play at weddings and I am always up against this issue. The young bride and groom and their friends want it loud. The parents want it soft. And the truth be known, the volume that I need to play to allow a packed dance floor of 200 people to hear the music is going to be too loud if you are not a twentysomething and to top it off, you stand right in front of the band stand. It will be too loud for you even if I pull all the plugs. So I compromise... During the dinner, I play for the people eating. Meaning, that if you have to shout to be heard across your table, then I am too loud. It is not a concert. But in exchange, during the busy dance sets, don't complain to me about the volume. I keep it lower than most bands, but there needs to be some volume there so the dancers are not left in a vacuum when migrate to the far end of the dance floor.
It is very hard to make all the people happy, all the time. So I basically do what my professional experience tells me is the best solution. With the exception of the client wanting something else. If the client wants it louder or quieter, then that is what I do. Regardless. And the definition of client is "the one who will be paying me at the end of the night".
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Mar 8, 2010

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

Another Midwesterner here. We just lost a set of gigs because we weren't loud enough either. Not really sure what to do, we love our systems and it's such a treat to play with them but this seems to be an almost impossible issue to resolve without bringing in more front of stage speakers. I'm nervous about getting the Bose system loud enough to please this crowd and in the process make us go deaf. Not to mention lugging all this extra hardware around.
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Jun 17, 2010

Re: Loud bands & attitudes prevail in Midwest venues, in spite of available technology.

Not sure what I would do if someone told us that we are just not loud enough. We dont play to many college age kids. Most of our audience is not much younger than late 20s.

I guess that the lesson here is to either be prepared for all comers - or to be comfortable knowing that you can only service a certain segment of the market. In other words - for this situation - do whatever you can to have as much headroom as possible - and play to the level that you can stand - or just politely say - sorry, we are not that kind of band.

My wife and I go listen to other bands play - regularly. We are in our mid-40s. We get all excited when the band is sporting some L1s. We know that we will not be having much of a conversation when we see speakers on poles.

We now have 3 L1s for a 4 piece band. We've only used 2 in the past, and just bouth the third one so that we have a spare. I would imagine that the third would help us to be a bit louder - if we were so inclined to use all three.