# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Miscellaneous - TDK Cross Central Festival Part 1

  by Philip Vincent

published: 30 / 9 / 2006

Miscellaneous - TDK Cross Central Festival Part 1


In the opening episode of a three part article in a new series, professional sound engineer Philip Vincent writes about his experiences working at the TDK Cross Central Festival, which took place at Kings Cross Freight Depot in London and featured acts such as Grace Jones, Goldfrapp and the Others

LOAD IN About two years ago I wrote an article for this magazine about going on tour with the band Renton and I am sure I said something then about writing another one further down the line about my glorious sound engineering career! Well lo and behold, contrary to the beliefs of my friends, certain family members and if I’m honest myself, I am still working as a sound engineer and in fact getting paid quite well for what I do! Anyway I digress from the story at hand. It's Friday morning 9.30am and I am in Basingstoke on an industrial park in the back of an articulated lorry holding a rather large speaker. Well, I’m not holding all of it, merely one quarter, but we are trying to lift it on top of four other speakers which means we are lifting it ten foot straight up. So up it goes. We get it to just about head height when my fellow liftee has a sudden bout of muscle loss and sends the entire cabinet sideways pinning my head between itself and the side of the truck. It then stays there for about 10 seconds, immobile, still, crushing and effectively pinning my mouth shut thus rendering it impossible for me to tell anyone what is up. At this point the crew boss round the other side of the cabinet starts calling me and the “dropper” variations on the theme of being a girl before finally realising what has happened and summons more crew to the truck to pull the speaker off of my head. Good start, I think to myself. Eventually we get everything loaded without any more head crushing incidents, I take two paracetamol to try and numb the pain and we make our way to Kings Cross arriving at the festival site about 2 p.m. and with the horrible realisation that we have to load in up 4 flights of steps with no lift. PAIN IN THE ASS (And the arms, knees and backs of all involved.) Luckily we aren’t using our own speakers on this job (the speakers that nearly killed me earlier weren’t even for this job, a pain or what!) so we only have to shift the mixing desk, monitor speakers, microphones, cables, stands, drum kits, amplifiers and all the power needed to run the lot. Several hours later it is all in rigged, checked and ready to roll and we just about make it to the pub for last orders. We then stay in the said pub for... well, let's not beat around the bush, the myth about sound guys and other crew being able to drink is true and we fully reinforce this myth before stumbling back to the hotel just in time to get 4 hours sleep before the first day of the two show. The hotel is at least half an hour away from the venue, which in itself isn’t too bad, but when you have been working for 22 hours straight a 30-minute walk is not what you want. Especially when there are at least ten hotels nearer! Next up is the fact that we are all sharing three bodies to a room which again you may think isn’t too bad but when the room is the size of a small ship's cabin things start getting a little cramped! Last but by no means least is the location of the room. We are next to the kitchen, meaning at 6.30 a.m. every day the Polish chefs at the hotel put on their Polish hip hop at volumes rivalling what we are producing at the venue and start making breakfast. This is then combined with the fact that the blind on the only window in the room is white and doesn’t block out the sun, which makes it incredibly hard to get any sleep at all. PAIN IN THE ASS 2 Show Day 1 So, after little sleep and with cracking headaches from the Stella the night before, we make our way back to Cross Central and begin getting ready for the soundcheck. We arrive at 11. The first check starts at 3. It takes about an hour to get ready and then we wait and wait until finally as if by magic a sound engineer for one of the acts arrives and starts causing problems. The desk isn’t big enough for what his act needs. After some discussion he realises that it actually is big enough and we get on with the soundcheck. The next problem is the fact that two of the singers have in ear monitors, which are basically headphones with a radio pack attached meaning we can send them sound straight to their ears without everyone else getting it. In essence these things are brilliant if an engineer knows how to use them and knows what the performer wants in his or her ears. Before we even got to this point it comes to our combined attention that one of the singer's wasn’t hearing anything in her ears. Looking at the base unit we could see that it was receiving a signal from the desk which is a good thing. At this point the band's sound engineer really started hacking me off. He turned round and began accusing me of messing up his wireless packs and that they had been on a 6 month tour and had worked faultlessly etc etc. I said "Okay" and began to try and trouble shoot the problem. The normal cause of this is that the artist's receiver has been tuned to a different channel (they work just like you tune a radio) and so I asked to see the packs to see if this is the answer but, nope, I wasn't allowed to see the pack. “You’ve done enough damage already.” At this point all I had done was plug the units in so I leave him moaning and go and sort out Stage 3 which I am running by myself as well as supervising stage 2! I then try and hide from Stage 2 for the rest of the afternoon leaving the crew and stage manager to sort the problems. As far as I was aware everything went well but alas as we will find out in the next instalment, this was not the case…… The second part of Philip Vincent's account of the TDK Cross Festival will follow next month.

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Miscellaneous - TDK Cross Central Festival Part 1

Miscellaneous - TDK Cross Central Festival Part 1

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