3rd August - 7th October…
The file name is fitting - as Panic! (at the disco), is what I generally do. I arrive at a gig/fundraiser/disco/etc and have a mini-panic before my brain quietens down and starts thinking about how to do amazing lights once again…
As is usual for me for a gig I’ve done previously, I wanted to make this one even better. So I turned up bright & early (albeit hungover) to help DD8 Music load-in (as it was DD8 I was there with). I set up the main festoon harness with coloured lamps (except blue, they’re not that bright), the PAR36 cans & mirror ball, and then my t-bars with disco scanners and lasers.
Relay for Life 2015 - lighting (and some sound) by Stevie C
The PA system was the usual Peavey XR1212, with the XT2 tops and matching subs (albeit with proper amplification in the form of the IPR2s), teamed with the new Yamaha DXR12s and a pair of old Torque HD 415s - surprising how a small tweak in the system setup can make things so much louder and clearer. I did have to spend half an hour making up cables to stretch across the stage, so I repurposed some mains cable I had in my lighting kit…
Having rigged the main stage and with the bands underway, it was time to turn my attention to the Silent Disco. I rigged long strings of LED fairy lights around the perimeter of the marquee tent and set a few lights up on a basic sequence. My third PAR36 decided to be a pain by striking and then tripping and resetting, and recycling all over again. Fortunately, I had a new LED PARcan with me - not nearly as bright, but it did the job.
CRUK RFL Silent Disco - LED fairy strings around marquee perimeter
As it got a bit darker towards the evening, we began gradually lighting the stage up…
CRUK Relay for Life Kirrie 2015: Main Stage & Festoon lights
Come 10pm and the Candle Of Hope ceremony, we powered down all the lighting except for the open white spots on the mirror ball and a small reading light for the speeches. Finally taking a break from all things technical, I decided to get something to eat while I could (as I would be busy again from 10:30ish until 6am), but was angrily told by the caterers “we’re closed now”. Maybe not angrily, maybe they just thought I was being disrespectful as all the audience were at the ceremony - it’s just that the people who make stuff happen have been there all day…
Last year (2013 - it’s biennial) I seem to recall using the same 2 PAR36 cans, but right next to each other. This gave a better effect than spaced further apart. Sonnet 65 were finishing off on the main stage from 11pm to midnight - so we “lit the stage like a mother flipping christmas tree” during their set to quote from previous years.
CRUK RFL Candle of Hope ceremony & Sonnet 65
With Sonnet 65 finished, we powered down and transplanted a few of the lights into the Silent Disco Tent.
Kirrie Relay for Life: Silent Disco
I swear the Silent Disco is the maddest thing I’ve ever done. I was DJing from one laptop and Graham took it in turns with other DD8rs to DJ from another one. Both fed into a dual stereo transmitter, and the audiences’ headphones could select between the 2 channels. Perhaps one of the maddest aspects of it was I would take off my monitor headphones and hear most of the people singing along with the track I was playing, only to lose the next track to whoever was on the other laptop, and back-and-forth in this manner.
People loved our music so much that they disappeared with the wireless headphones while continuing round the track, leaving no headsets for those wanting to enjoy the disco. So maybe in 2 years time, the organisers could look into getting more than 50 pairs of headsets, or possibly looking into an FM transmitter so people can tune in on their phones…
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of a silent disco is the fact that it’s, well… silent. The fact my fingers were busy DJing meant I couldn’t be programming lights at the same time. Unlike some single-DJ silent discos where you still have a sub-woofer or infra-woofer (such as the D&B B2), there was no audio for lights to sync to. So, basic chases and sequences were the order of the day.
Skip to 2:09 for the silent disco itself.
Graham did tell me he was shocked at the amount of Cheese I was playing and how much genre-hopping I was doing. Philip was certainly surprised when I started playing a live recording of his band I just happened to have in my library. Radio DD8!
I may have gone a bit trigger-happy with the fog machine, as it was still hanging about in the air when I returned to de-rig later that morning. I got about 2 hours of semi-awake sleep. I was aware of the early morning band striking up and the sleep deprived performers completely forgetting the lyrics and chords of a Johnny Cash song, or maybe I just dreamed that? I did get quite a lot of exercise, despite only doing one circuit of the track - must have been all that jumping on and off stages…
The CRUK RFL Aftermath: Spooky Smoke & WTF?
Graham from DD8 Music filmed the entire event on his GoPro in time lapse.
I got my 15 frames of fame!
Someone wanted to borrow some LED fairy strings for a house party. I met Mitch from audioWAVE doing a gig in the city square on the way, so I came back at de-rig time to help out.
Hoose Perty & Love Music, Hate Racism event. Sound by audioWAVE.
I was asked to help out at a fundraiser for a new football pitch along with Graham from DD8 Music. So we took a stripped down version of the CRUK RFL sound & lighting system along. I turned up with a hangover again, which seems to make me more motivated. I guess Frank Sinatra was right. We even got a generously sized generator with AVR and everything.
I’ve heard it suggested that Roadies share the same rates of stress and mortality/suicide as other professions including vets, surgeons and soldiers. I can only imagine that this has something to do with the strain put on relationships, the accidents that you read about (of trussing failures etc) and possibly unique to us (or anyone in the creative industries or who freelances basically) the stress and anxiety of never being permanently employed and wondering where that next gig is coming from. And before you start to even worry about insurance, training, keeping up with emerging technologies and all the other stuff (I imagine) you don’t have to do in a 9-to-5…
Although just a fact of life, what doesn’t help is being told of upcoming work via someone who is also being employed by a third party employer under the guise of the event being a massive event, only to later find out that the scale of the event has been massively oversold and you’re suddenly not required. Annoying also is quoting rock-bottom pricing for recording or whatever, only to be told that you’re way too expensive and they would like some discount (try that with your utilities provider - I dare you). While we’re on the subject, I did not go to college and do countless hours work experience just to work for profit-making business for free, who would then go on to make money from the free services they want me to provide.
One particular stressor - while not the fault of anyone or anything, but still discontenting - is the cancelled show. It happens. It’s in my iCal, I’m looking forward to it, and then the singer falls ill. This happened with Joan Armatrading a while back. Having been asked to spot-op and crew on her previous show earlier this year (and having little idea of who she was, I’m ashamed to say), I was looking forward to joining her crew again, not least because it’s work and fun but also because the hours fly by as I thoroughly enjoy her performances. That’s what I like about this - albeit part-time - job: apart from learning new stuff, you get introduced to some amazing music and performance acts.
After experiencing the Peatbogs at HebCelt Fest, I was looking forward to working a DD8 Music gig with them. But then at the last minute I was needed to cover for the DJ in the Salty Dog Dundee.
The Peatbog Faeries setting up at Kirriemuir Town Hall. Sound by audioWAVE.
Having had my keen interest in lights started at a young age by my grandfather who was a sparky, one path of employment in my mind at school was to do an apprenticeship as a sparky just as he had done. Unfortunately I did not at that time possess the social skills and general confidence I do now (and reserved though I may be now, I was a lot worse back then). The implication would have been not being able to last 2 minutes on a building site, or any similar work environment. Having now developed some confidence and having applied for a few entry-level electrical jobs (and they are literally a few - as my age means employers would have to pay me slightly more), I duly applied to SECTT for the necessary pre-employment assessment.
I arrived at the college campus in plenty of time, and set about trying to find the science block which was not sign-posted and whose main entrance was blocked off. Having eventually found the right room, I walked into a technical drawing class to be told that the SECTT exam was being held elsewhere - where, they do not know. Having by chance found the right exam room across the campus, I joined 2 other candidates who had both come wearing a shirt and tie (but had both forgotten to bring pencils as instructed). Halfway thru the exam, my brain froze in cold fear - as because I was in the room with the rest of the candidates, I would not have my learning support needs accommodated (as I had indicated in the application form). Thus, I did not have enough time to finish the paper.
By now, regular readers should equate party with work, but fun work at that. Worthy of note is that I was not hungover, yet.
As PITF didn’t happen this year, I needed a replacement mini-festival. I soon found one in the form of a private party at The Drumtochty Tavern, a cosy little old-school country pub situated in deepest darkest Harrietfield. But, first thing’s first…
Only just fit everything in
The first thing I did was stick the solar lights (the ones I would use at a wedding, etc) around in the grounds - so they would have a chance to charge up. In hindsight, I should have just put them under a desk lamp, as they needed 6 hours of direct sunlight, not just 6 hours of light as I thought… I also strung LED fairy lights around the perimeter fence.
Solar garden lights & LED fairy strings
Next up was to install some mood lighting around the inside of the venue. I did this by placing LED floodlights sets on a combination of full-color cycle and static red, as well as swapping out the CFL bulbs in the light sockets with both low wattage coloured festoon bulbs, and some of my hand-painted bulbs.
LED floodlights and hand-painted bulbs for mood lighting
The aim of the main bar was to mimic The Salty Dog Dundee as much as possible. This was achieved with LED disco bulbs, yet more hand-painted bulbs, LED color tape and fairy strings…
LED disco bulbs & hand-painted bulbs.
Drumtochty Tavern Games Room & Disco Lounge
We set the DJ gear up in the games room, and fed the zone output into a HiFi amp so we could send sound outside and to the bar via some Technics and Sony speakers in addition to the Mackie SRM 450s. It sounded great.
This was a fantastic night, as not only did I find a replacement for PITF (the owner is keen to do another event in the future), Ross made some Chilli Vodka from his special recipe. Ouch. Unfortunately, the night ended with a punch-up, so here’s a picture of another painted bulb instead…
Hand-painted light bulb by Stevie C.
As Viz Comic say, “A pint and a fight - a great British night”.
DJ Ross was asked to play at a distant-relation’s wedding do, so I lent him some amazing lights for the night. You’ll probably notice my LED tape in there somewhere.
I’m keen to return to their tavern next-door, as they have full-size snooker tables and not only 80/- on tap, but also export as well. Not seen too many pubs with that…
I now have a proper name for my little Tiger: Chye-Tii, the Tiger-Bee.
Does whatever a Tiger-Bee does…
Can he sting, or use four legs?
No he can’t, he loves me
Look-out, he is the Tiger-Bee…
I should probably point out that unlike my Last.fm profile, these Top 40 are just the songs I love the most at the moment - not necessarily what’s been played the most or been recently added.
Time to look for work.