Sometimes it feels like you’re pushing a boulder uphill the whole day. A recent Australian Florence + the Machine load in felt like that. Don’t misunderstand – it was a perfectly good venue. I’d be happy to attend a show there. However, it was a battle to get our show in, and especially to get the delays up and tuned properly.
When I arrived, things were well along. There had been a pre-rig the night before, which was a good thing since the rigging had clearly been a challenge. The main House-Right PA was hanging very low but more-or-less at trim, and the House-Left PA was nearly ready to go. As the trim was low and there was a large lawn at the back of venue, someone had suggested we fly delays. Many ‘sheds’ have delay systems installed, but not here. Our
System Engineer and Head Rigger had produced the best solution possible, which unfortunately put the delay points directly above seats. The audio team was fighting the good fight trying to hang eight-deep delay clusters while pushing cabinets into the aisle nearest the points.
While they battled the delays (a fight which went on for hours – literally),
Front of House gear spilled into the pit in front of the stage. The downstage truss came in for some work, preventing the gear from being pushed up a makeshift ramp they had constructed (the whole lower bowl is stairs, of course) to the FOH bunker. The lighting team were having their struggles as well and I felt for them.
I turned my attention to the bunker. It was small and situated slightly out from under the main roof. Since it was raining, the bunker was covered with a thick clear-plastic roof. It looked like a greenhouse. While it was dry in the greenhouse, it was nevertheless quite small. I began turning over the possibilities of how to set up two lighting consoles, two sound consoles, an audio workbox and two cameras in there and concluded it wasn’t going to happen. I got on the radio and asked our Stage Manager if we could get the department heads together and hash out how this was going to work. A local pointed out to me that we were also going to have the 14 space rack that he’d already pushed into place out there as well. Of course. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the delays are lowering back to the ground. They need to be re-rigged.
Good news! The cameras were going to go on a concrete slab behind us which was actually the ceiling of the bathrooms below (entrances: men on the right, women on the left of FOH). Still, the rest of the gear was barely going to fit. Florence’s super-reasonable and accommodating Lighting Director agreed to put his main and backup consoles at a right angle, buying us four feet. Someone had used the bunker to store empty motor boxes, so they had to go. The downstage truss went up and the FOH gear arrived. As it was still raining, we were forced to try to do all our console tipping under the greenhouse roof. There was really not enough room for this, but we got it done and the console lids went away. I noticed the delays going back up.
Since there was little room to work, placing and wiring everything was a challenge. The concrete was on a slight slope as well, so gear rolled after getting it perfectly placed or if bumped slightly. After 15 minutes of nudging and minimal cursing, I had everything in its spot and started wiring up. They were re-hanging the delays again. At this point, sitting and watching the delays being fussed with for the fourth time and contemplating if I had anything intelligent to add to how they were going about it (I didn’t ) I thought maybe I should just walk away for a break.
Upon returning, one delay hang had gone up for the final time and the other side was being put together. Having done this once, the second hang should not take as long. I sat down behind the console and started the process of backing up the multitrack from the previous show.
Soon, a young man with a well kept curly moustache and a clipboard approached and introduced himself as one of the venue staff in charge of noise abatement. Was I aware there was a noise limit? No, in fact, I was not aware of this. I asked what the limit was. He was not sure, that was someone else’s job and they would be here in a while. He was aware that the problem was caused by complaints from an apartment building that had been built nearby. The main source of sound/noise driving those complaints? Well, not so much the main system but the delays.
My recollection of that exact moment: in the background of this conversation, I heard the SE tell the Sound Crew that the delays were finally up and at trim, thank you.