043 - MIXING A BAND FOR THE FIRST TIME - WHILE HEADLINING A FESTIVAL!

This weekend I’m going to do one of the more ambitious gigs I’ve ever done – I’m mixing FOH for a band called Portugal. The Man for the very first time, there’s no soundcheck, and we’re headlining a festival! Plus, there are things like keyboards and FX that change from song to song…it’s complex.

This would obviously be difficult without utilizing any technology. Trying to do it all on the fly might be OK, but I’m looking to put out a really solid mix! Luckily, the normal FOH engineer David Williams has his stuff together and was able to pass on some files that will help this be a great sounding show.

I made a quick video talking about it, but also explain in more detail below:


First of all, David sent me a show file for the console he uses for this band, a DigiCo SD10. These are great consoles and are a super popular option for many tours. This file not only loads all the input settings, including Gain, EQ, Dynamics Processing, FX, and Faders, it contains a Snapshot for each song.

Using Snapshots is very helpful and something I do a lot when I mix. They change the settings for each song and give me a dialed-in mix from the very first note – or at least they get me very close so I can make minor adjustments as we go. I won’t have to be chasing faders around nearly as much!

David also sent me a file for the Waves plug-ins he uses for the show. We’ll also have a Waves server at this show which integrates nicely with the SD10. These plug-ins have many specialized Dynamics, EQ and FX settings that can really make a mix shine.

But to really make this whole thing work really well, we will also use virtual soundcheck. This allows me to go in the day before the show and play back tracks from a recent performance. Even though this won’t be EXACTLY like the show will be when I mix it (mics change position/different guitar amplifiers/different drum tuning), it will be very close. Plus, it allows me to run the show a couple times and make sure I have it all totally ready to go for the real set.

So, in a way, I actually do get to mix the band before we do the show. It won’t really be the first time I’ve heard all the music just like they perform it. I’ll check in again next week and let you know how it went…wish me luck!

-Scott