Posted by: worshipguitarguy | September 24, 2006

One of THOSE Days…

Today was one of THOSE days… maybe you know what I’m talking about. 

To fill you in, we led worship for a district youth event at an area United Methodist campground. 

The story begins when we pulled in about 1:15 this afternoon with a trailer full of instruments and soundgear.  Initially I heard we were playing two sets in a 4:00 p.m. worship service… ok.  Then two of our bandmembers called saying they were running late… not a problem, after all, we still had 2 1/2 hours.

I forgot to mention, the event was in an old camp barn… an awesome youth activity center, but the acoustic quality in such a place was… well… I’ll let you guess. 

Fast forward to 2:15, students are coming in by the vanload.  We’ve set up the speakers, sound board, and our gear… and we’re still plugging in the XLR cords and direct boxes.  Seeing our progress, the district youth leader comes up, and asks us for a mic, so we gave him one.  He welcomed everyone and then announced that the band is about ready to start.

 …WHAT???

…a quick look at the schedule confirmed it, a short set at 2:30… followed by the two sets in the 4:00 service.  Apparently, there’d been a slight miscommunication… and now there were 200 students in front of us, ready to go.

what’s a band to do? ahh, no pressure there… 

Well, we did what any self respecting group would do, without a soundcheck and a warm up, we jumped right in.   “Not to Us” was our first song, followed by “Holy is the Lord.”  (Did I mention we love setting volume and EQ levels in the middle of a set?)

Now you’d think that since both songs are sung by male vocalist of the year and Christian radio favorite Chris Tomlin, most people would know them… a fair assumption, so we were expecting the students to be right there with us.  Instead, they looked like deer in the headlights.  Some of them acted like they’d never heard either song. 

Fortunately, they’d planned two hours of activities between the welcome and the service.  As a worship band member, I’ve had to learn how to be flexible.  Once the barn was empty, we did our soundcheck… it was truly a character building experience.  There was a terrible low-mid rumble killing our clarity.  We tried EQ’ing things from the board, and master graphic EQ, but nothing worked.  After 25 minutes, we finally figured out the problem.  We usually isolate our guitar amps, but unfortunately there was a hayloft above the amps, and we were running the amps hot enough to cause an acoustic resonation in the loft.  So we de-isolated them, (is that a word?) and used them to drive the house.  We also dropped the height of the stands for our main speakers because of their proximity to the ceiling/floor of the loft, (contributing to the effect.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t getting good tone out of my gear.  My settings were the same as they’d been during our worship service the night before at my home church, but my tone wasn’t.  The acoustic differences between the two rooms completely changed my tone.  I had to start from scratch, first changing my amp eq to get a good clean tone, then changing my pedal settings to get good overdrive and boost sounds. 

Heading into the second and third set, we also changed our set list… we chose to do older songs, some that we hadn’t done in a while.  It was definitely an adventure… since we had one shot to get them right.  Saying we didn’t know what to expect was an understatement… at the start of the second set, one of the youth leaders flipped the breakers to the arcade video games… a noble endeavor, unfortunately it was the same circuit my guitar amp was on. 

Well, we made it through, by the end of the evening things had gone well.  It was a huge lesson in humility though… we knew any good coming out of tonight had nothing to do with us…

… now that I think about it… sounds like a good song idea, what do you think?  🙂

——

As a note: I want to thank our wonderful hosts for yesterday… They were phenomenal, most of what happened was the result of sheer craziness and a big case of Murphy’s Law… 😛

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Responses

  1. I’ve been there, bro. It’s definitely a way to see just how flexible and on-the-fly you can be, and can be a testiment to how close the band is with each other.

    I sometimes love showing up 20 minutes before a worship set and just letting it fly!

    btw, what older songs did you throw into the set?

  2. Hey Jamon, being off the cuff, it’s scary to say some of them escape me right now… 😉 We did do “Every Move I Make”, and Darrell Evans’ “Trading My Sorrows” though. It kinda turned out real funky with alot of wah and a 70’s feel…

  3. Wow Gerry, sounds fun. lol Hey could you email me at Jchema8@gmail.com so i can get your address. Thanks!

  4. I know what you mean about tone in a different building. However, the good thing is most teenagers wouldn’t know tone if it came up and introduced itself to them. They probably didn’t even notice.

  5. It’s amazing just how different worship music repertoire’s are around the country – try around the world: I’m sure there’s a bunch of songs you do that I’ve not heard of and I can probably return the favour.

    And yet, God’s name is praised. Thanks for sharing the experience with us.

  6. stuff like that happens all the time as a worship leader, whether its a problem with peopel showing up late or what not, adapting and being flexable really helps, even though it can be so tedious.


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