Diary 8th March 2019 – Sound tech blues, and LMHR at the 100th Un-Convention

Sound desk Chris Tavner

Two regular nights of comedy this week – The New Adelphi Comedy show at Salford University (first half is short form improv games with my CSz Manchester troupe, the second half a show case for students stand up that I MC) and my regular stand up night at The Snipe in Audenshaw.

Being part of an improv troupe, a group, means that we have to take it in turns to do the different jobs required to run a show. Some times this means doing the door and taking tickets, for instance. Of course we would all like to play in every show, but someone has to do these jobs, so the fairest option is that we take it in turns. I completely agree that this is fair.

As such, the job I had to do was to do the sound tech for the night. I agree it’s fair that I take my turn doing this. I fucking hate it. Did I mention I understand it’s fair?

What adds to my frustration, is that it’s such a simple job. I have to adjust sound levels, announce games through the microphone, and play music through the connected laptop. The laptop is even touch screen for Christ’s sake! How much easier could it be?

And yet, it does my nut. I think it’s simply that I don’t do it enough to feel fluent in the actions, and even though those actions are simple, it involves working with a 2-3 things at once. This level of multitasking alone is too much for me. There’s a reason in music why I learned woodwind and not the piano or drums. One thing at a time please – I’ll just stick to the melody.

I also end up feeling like everyone noticed my various slips or faux pas, but as is often the case, the majority of them are not noticed. We get self obsessed, but no one else gives a shit.

Using music as the example, every student learning an instrument has to learn early on that when performing a piece, if you make a mistake, you have to carry on. Even if it’s noticeable. For one reason, the show must go on, but also, by making an issue of it you highlight the problem in the first place, amplifying it. 9 times out of 10, you learn that the audience didn’t even notice you made a mistake in the first place.

My clarinet teacher was ex-military (of the curly mustache variety), so had a bluntness about such issues. His advice: “don’t forget… the audience are fucking idiots.”

In general, performers may wish to confer a higher level of respect for their audience, but there’s a simple truth there that should not be ignored.

Love Music Hate Racism at the 100th Un-convention

Unconvention Love Music Hate Racism Chris Tavner
The ‘Music for Good’ panel at the 100th Un-Convention

I spent most of my Friday helping to run a stall for ‘Love Music Hate Racism‘ at a music convention in Manchester.

The ‘Un-Convention‘ is for all those involved in independent music, from record labels and promoters, through to the performers themselves.

One of the sessions was on ‘music for good’, which alongside Zak from LMHR also featured representatives from ‘Musicians against Homelessness‘ and ‘Palestine Music Expo‘. It was interesting to hear the different approaches from each campaign, but also how the ethos of each overlapped

The ‘Palestine Music Expo’ was about drawing attention to Palestinian music (check out their playlist of Palestinian music on Spotify). One reason was to build the market and awareness of the music, but also to draw attention to the fight for Palestinian rights and security.

The ‘Musicians against Homelssness’ campaign was about supporting musicians who were, or have been at risk of being, homeless. They pay for that support to get them out there, to be seen. Emma Rule from the campaign also said the The Sun had offered to sponsor them.

This would have been huge, providing so much money and resources. They declined the offer. As Emma said, half of their acts would have left if they’d taken the offer for a start, but there were also many other reasons for taking that decision. Whilst undoubtedly the right decision, it was certainly quite a brave one. Massive respect to them for that.

LMHR was very well received during that session, and over the convention as a whole. We sold a load of T-shirts, and got a lot of people to sign up to get involved, and to support the #BeautifulResistance campaign.

On a personal note, I managed to get that evenings headliner, Badly Drawn Boy, to pose with the poster to support the campaign. A highlight of the event was to be able to sit and watch a wonderful performer like that do his sound check. Like my own personal show.

Political activism can be a slog at times, but there are certainly sweet moments along the way.

Love Music Hate Racism Chris Tavner
Badly Drawn Boy supporting the #BeautifulResistance campaign