Kirriemuir Relay for Life 2013
10th & 11th August 2013
This past weekend I was volunteering my sound and lighting services at the Cancer Research UK Kirriemuir Relay for Life.
Having done the biennial event in 2011, I was determined as ever to improve this time around. I already had in my mind what I wanted: more sound, more lights and more power. I am the Clarkson of lighting & PA.
The previous experience had taught me that we needed a more powerful PA, for when my boss taps me on the shoulder and says “it needs to be louder”, or a timid vocalist (whose parent is nearby) is standing 2 feet away from the mic and is subsequently drowned out by a guitarist whose amp is super-glued at 11. I was informed that I was not getting to hang festoons everywhere due to health and safety; because dancing in the dark at midnight on a stage in a field is so much safer…
I eventually got my way with the lights, and we were lent some Peavey subs and Mackie Thumps by a sound engineering acquaintance. I had it in my head that we needed a 20kVA genset (us lampies are greedy), but we scraped by with a 6kVA. I’d left a lot of my old-school halogen disco lights at home, nevertheless I watched the V/A meter dancing near the overload mark.
First up was the Zumba instructor with a wireless AudioTechnica mic who needed only a few minor adjustments to mid and treble (the instructor was standing in front of the speakers) on stage. She was halfway through her routine, when everything eerily went quiet - desk, speakers, fills, monitors the lot - but only for a second. Quite a few people looked in my direction - my hand was hovering just above the desk at this point, but carried on with their workout. A very strange experience - until it went quiet again, but for a few seconds this time. We all looked at each other nervously, as the sound came and went for a third time. We all jumped off the stage to investigate…
The fault lay with the generator, which was revving up and stuttering before coughing and spluttering to a halt again. With all of our gear disconnected, the generator still struggled to start up - the voltmeter danced about all over the place. The organisers found us a smaller 6kVA genset from elsewhere on site. Unfortunately, it developed the same problem after being in operation for a mere 10 minutes. So we waited for the hire company to send a service tech, who replaced the filters in both gensets, thus solving the problem. We decided to perform a stress-test (we’d rather the genset dropped out during the day with a known max load instead of at night with an unknown load). I had visions of Homer Simpson overloading the Springfield power grid with his dancing Santa.
Just goes to show, that lights on a stage at night are a good idea.
Nothing Prepares You
During the Candle of Hope Ceremony, we had speeches and contributions from the event organisers and participants, a special performance for the occasion from Shawney Henderson and the Candle of Hope ceremony. Nothing prepares you for the sight of thousands of candles in a field - when you realise what they represent.
Nothing prepared me for the talent show where the entrants had their own backing music on their various devices, which left me iPod-swapping - until the performer with no CD player and a CD which iTunes refused to read. Or the performer who wanted an obscure remix of a Showaddywaddy song (in a field with no WiFi). Or the dance group that requested 3 condenser mics in front of the speakers…
We had the festoon harness and color PAR cans for the first half of Sonnet 65’s set, only the open white PAR cans and mirror ball for Shawney Henderson, and then for Sonnet’s second set, every light that the genset would support. Sonnet 65 finished their set and their “One More Choon!” - accompanied by the Thrums Vet Group, and we powered down for the night.
I had my mood dampened on Sunday after 4 hours of sleep, as one of our crew had taken it upon themselves to derig my festoon harness while sleep deprived. This left me with 2 festoon harnesses, where before I had one. My lights are my babies, and dead babies are not good.
The first Sunday act onstage was the Strathmore Christian Fellowship - so whilst everyone in our crew ran away, I got speaking with my old art teacher who was a member of the SCF. 5 minutes into their set and they were just another decent band as far as I was concerned, except for when they stopped to quote scripture…
“65 grand eh? Not bad for a weekend’s work.”
I’ve been listening to AC/DC, Airbourne, Oasis, Dub Pistols & The Divinyls.
Time to renew my web hosting…