Apr 162013
 

John Zorn is unquestionably the most interesting and advanced composer of our times. Although he looks 45ish this year he actually turns 60 and to celebrate he is doing a number of concerts all around the world, in different countries every month, all year long.

I am lucky enough to be the one doing sound for these complicated multi-band shows (think 9 bands in 3-4 hours with 5 min stage changes). As challenging as these marathons are to mix and advance, they are absolutely AMAZING to watch and if it is the one thing you travel for this year I would highly recommend catching one of them in Europe this summer.

The first one of the series of 2013 Zorn at 60 marathons took place last week at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.

I don’t usually repost other people’s reviews, but this enthusiastic concert goer has some good videos and since I was too busy doing sound to be documenting the show I thought I’d post his reviews with videos so you can see what you missed:

Concert Review: John Zorn Marathon at the Walker Art Center 4/6/13 – Part 1: Book of Heads, Hockey, Cobra, Composer Q&A – Concert Manic!

Concert Review: John Zorn Marathon at the Walker Art Center (4/6/2013) – Part 2: Masada – Concert Manic!

Concert Review: John Zorn Marathon at the Walker Art Center (4/6/2013) – Part 3: The Concealed, Nova Express, Aleph Trio and The Hermetic Organ – Concert Manic!

Aug 232012
 

I’ve just returned from the second and last leg of the Summer 2012 tour of Lou Reed and his band. The tour was called “From VU to Lulu” because they played all sorts of material from the Velvet Underground days to the latest Lou Reed & Metallica record “Lulu”. As always I have mixed the FOH sound and enjoyed doing so and working along one of the best crews I ever worked with (thank you Stewart, Matt, Joey, Gary, Jesse, John, Jacob, Bungie, Peter, Rod, Des, Liam, Stuart!!!).

The whole tour was a blast and we made sure to make the best of every minute, whether it’d be a concert on a hot sunny day, a load in or load out in the middle of pouring rain (we had a lot of those) or a day off in some beautiful European city where I’d venture out on some exploratory tour!

There are a million videos of these concerts on YouTube but I want to post one that is special to me. “Junior Dad” is one of my favorite songs of the set and one of my favorite songs from “Lulu” (if not from Lou’s entire discography!). On this particular day in Dresden, Germany, this song got particularly intense because without our knowledge somewhere across town fireworks started in the sky in the middle of the intro to the song and continued for the entire duration of the song. Lou, the band, the techs and probably the crowd were all confused at first but Lou quickly showed the genius he is and started ad libbing and incorporating these fireworks in his lyrics effectively changing the lyrics to match the environment and showing true artistry and creativity to thousands present.

My own approach was to actually make the whole concert way louder (by at least 10dB!!!) because initially the fireworks were so close and loud that they were ruining the intimacy of the intro to the song. By making everything louder at the mixing desk the concert was still louder than the fireworks and when the drums kick in the whole concert is really loud and grandiose, which is just fine considering it’s the last song of the set too!

The audio of this YouTube clip is not great and at times distorted too because it’s from some unauthorized camera in the crowd recording with the on board mic, but in spite of all of that, it’s one of those cases where the beauty and uniqueness of this moment is more important than the actual quality of the audio or the video.

Enjoy!

 

Hopefully see you in November/December in the far east…

Oct 042011
 

I’ve just returned from a 2 week long tour in South America doing FOH sound for Mike Patton’s Mondo Cane project. It was a great experience made even better by the amazing musicians and amazing people that made up the band and the crew. The musicians were just incredible, as you’d expect, half of them from Italy and the other half from the US. Enrico Gabrielli on wind instruments (sax, flute, clarinet, harmonica, whistle, recorder and even glockenspiel), Alessandro “Asso” Stefana on electric, acoustic and nylon guitars, Trevor Dunn on electric and upright bass, Scott Amendola on drums, Willy Wynant on percussions (congas, bongos, woodblocks, timbales, timpano, orchestral bass drum, glockenspiel and toys), Matt Rhode on samplers, Vincenzo Vasi on theremin, samplers and vocals, Enrico “Senza” Zavalloni, Valeria Vasta, Roberta Lizzo and Claudia Puglisi on background vocals and Cheche Alara conducting the 12 string orchestra that we hired locally in the different countries we played in.

We also had an amazing but small crew made up of Niccolo’ “number one” Antonietti on monitors, Jim Stewart stage manager and Tim Mooooooooooooooossss tour managing us.

Patton was the greatest!!! I have so much respect and admiration for him. He simply sings perfectly in tune for hours at a time and he always gives 100%, even during the long rehearsals we did before every show. Plus his interpretations of these great italian classics from the ’50es and ’60es are just incredible. Authentic, tasteful and sophisticated! What a unique show!

Although I was familiar with the record, I had never seen this show before and so mixing it for the first time was definitely a handful but very exciting. There is nothing better than mixing a show you like! I had to have two mixing boards to fit all the channels because with 24 musicians on stage there weren’t enough channels on a regular mixing board (the total track count was around 72). This got even more complicated in Brazil where we played with the Heliopolis favela orchestra, which was made up of 25 people instead of 12 (track count 85).

This was an exceptional show and I wish everyone could have seen it so I am very happy to be able to share this video with you because it was professionally shot by the Chilean TV station Via X. Sadly they just took a board feed from me so the audio never got re-mixed properly for this video and is simply the same audio everyone in the theater heard from the PA.

Mondo Cane will be in Australia in January and hopefully many other countries in the future so people will get to see this amazing show!

Mike Patton rules.

Here’s the full show:

 

Aug 102011
 

Presenting her first ever location-specific writings, Laurie Anderson (accompanied by the amazing Rob Burger on piano, keys, accordion, Moog bass and Orkestron and Eyvind Kang on effected viola) is offering her lyrical and musical genius to a full crowd on a beautiful warm breezy night that had been forecasted as rainy. Chilled downtempo electronic-ambient made from a beautiful mixture of loops and real instruments and augmented by her amazing talent for words that are true, funny, sad and poignant at the same time. Lou is playing on a song or two as well. Great night, great show and free too!

Aug 082011
 

Thanks to a totally random and serendipitous meeting (with the lovely booking agent of The Delancey called Dana) which took place in a London hotel lobby bar during the Lou Reed tour last month, tonight I am at The Delancey checking out Gary Hood (who was one of the guitar techs on the Lou Reed tour). Gary is touring with the Carrs and he happens to be in town for tomorrow’s Letterman show. The only times I’ve seen Gary jam was with our crew mates Joey Crifo and John Simpson and my friends in Italy, but tonight three SIR gentleman are sitting in on bass, cajon and shakers for this acoustic set.
Gary is killing it on guitar and harmonica delivering great vocals and words throughout his set.
Before Gary the Ashley, North Carolina based Aaron Wood played a set and he was really good as well. Go Aaron Wood!
Guess who’s going home with two new CD’s tonight? ;-)
Go Gary Hood!
For all those who missed this great night check him out online at Gary Hood and the Last Show Ever

20110808-110006.jpg

20110808-110018.jpg

Aug 072011
 
Kent, UK

Just returned after more than 4 weeks abroad. The Lou Reed tour took us to UK, France and Italy and then I spent 4 days in Norway at the Sommerfesten music festival (more about that in a later post).

The tour went great and we had a fantastic crew which made it so much better and more fun.

I want say thank you to all the people I worked it, had fun with and learnt from on this tour. It was great to travel with my old crew mates Stewart Hurwood (don’t worry baby, it ain’t nothing new!), Matt Brown (you will rule the world someday!), Aaron Havill (napkin please?), Bill Berger, Kerri Welsh (did she just say poop???) and my new friends Joey Crifo (like a brother!), Bungee Kovacs (yes we do have a bungee!), John Simpson, Gary Hood, Jesse Lucerne (thanks for the rubs!), Dave McPhee (zen out buddy! …and don’t worry baby, it ain’t nothing new!!!), Giles Floodgate, James Brown (…don’t worry baby, it ain’t nothing new!!!), Chris Bailey, Kartsen, Brie and everyone else involved!

A special hello and thank you to my day-off traveling buddies. You know who you are and I saw your true colors (and loved them!!!). Great to hang and glad you came along for the rides.

I did my best to show the whole crew a great time while we were in Italy (since I knew people, good restaurants and the language) and the parts of the tour I’ll carry with me are certainly the ones that involved water, chairs, skis, amazing meals, great ice cream, day trips etc… I think that’s what we will all remember from this tour. ;-)

I really didn’t have much time for taking pictures but I snapped some iPhone shots here and there.
Here are some of the most beautiful places we played at (iPhone pics don’t do these places justice).

And here are some gory tour injury pictures at the end there, for those who love that kind of stuff… Flying road cases? Involuntary stage diving? Pulley ropes? There are stories behind a these injuries, and they are hilarious, but we won’t tell anyone how these happened because what happens on tour stays on tour! ;-)

Nov 252010
 

Neubauten and myself have been missing each other by days for years. They don’t play in the States that often and every time they played in a European city I was visiting it would be either the week before or the week after my visit. This time finally the stars aligned! I happened to be in Italy on tour with Zorn the same week Neubauten were coming through and their only italian concert(s) were at the Estragon in Bologna so I got tickets for the first night and went. Oh boy what a show!

Being this Neubauten’s 30 year anniversary tour they really went all out and played for a staggering 3 hours! The current line up includes 2 percussionist (N.U. Unruh being one of them), a keyboard/sampler player, a guitarist (Jochen Arbeit) and of course Hacke on bass and Blixa on vocals. The six of them played songs from their entire discography to a packed audience of about 2000 souls. Needless to say the classics made the crowd go wild and the visual impact of what was happening on stage was overwhelming. You just simply can’t find another band today that has the type of sound they do and that does it all live. Their research for weird sounds and objects is amazingly creative and unique: who else would think of using a vinyl record mounted on the screw gun and amplified with a paper cup? or the tight and extended spring that when hit sounds like an electronic kick drum? or a bucket full of nails and scrap metal that is slowly emptied from a height of more than 6 feet creating a rain of metallic objects? To think that they’ve been doing this since 1980 is just mind-boggling!

Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the second show the following night but I’ve heard from people who went that it consisted in a shorter Neubauten set followed by a few sets of side projects by some EN members. Dulcis in fundus, the band then distributed about 200 drum sticks to the crowd and rolled out moving drum stations so that all attendees could participate in a noise-making hitting fest. Pretty amazing idea and great ending. Too bad I missed that.
Einsturzende Neubauten is still touring so I highly recommend that you go see them if you can. They should be in the States right about now in fact and I know they will be playing two gigs (one already sold out) in New York City on Dec 14 and 15.

Here’s some more pictures by a local photographer Elena Sartorari.

There’s also plenty of videos of the concert on YouTube.

Nov 112010
 

Milan was a total blast!
Although it ain’t easy to mix 12 bands in one evening and deal with 11 stage changes and 60 channels of continuously changing audio with dynamics that range from classical strings solos to seven piece metal bands, but such is the incredible variety of Zorn’s body of work and honestly it is right up my alley. I love his music and all the variety so much that doing a show like this goes by very quickly and I enjoy every minute of it really!
Can’t wait for the next one.
Here’s two pics of the stage at its least mic-busy and least people-crowded moment.