There are no excuses

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There are no excuses. It either happens or it doesn’t. Period.

I could probably just quit there. That’s the point, but I should probably throw in a story or two. Right? Ok.

Simple competition gig inside a large arena. Just a few mains and subs, wireless mics and tracks, lighting, banners, etc. Six am load in. Twenty guys on a dock waiting for our truck. No truck.

I know better than to call in looking for it without actually looking for it myself. I drive several laps around the parking lot, then around the entire block to make sure. No truck. After some heated phone calls, we locate our driver. He is 200 miles away, sleeping at a rest area. Seriously. He was convinced that it was a SIX PM load in. So, he took his time and took a nap.

Meanwhile…

Once I have established that there is no truck coming, I start working on plans B through Z. I pull the crew together. Once they get all the comical and obnoxious remarks out of their system, we go to work.

Who can we rent gear from locally and fast? Call everyone you know. Here’s what we need. We need it delivered an hour ago. Nothing. Nothing. No gear. What do you mean, nothing? Are we in the twilight zone? Was all the gear in town stolen? No, I don’t know what weekend this is. Austin city music festival, what’s that? A big weekend that rents every box and cable for a hundred miles? Nice.

Every call went like that. Every AV crew in the area was empty. Not even cables. Nothing.

My client arrives and wants to know what is happening. We had a problem with the truck, working on it now. Didn’t get around to mentioning that the driver was the problem. They were stressed. I reassured them that this show would happen on time. We were working on it. Even though my head was about to explode.

I found the house tech and asked what gear he had on site that I could rent or steal. We went into their storage rooms. They had a lot of crap. Old. Very, very old stuff that hadn’t seen daylight for a very, very long time. I think I actually saw a mummy in there.

We found four massive speakers, two amplifiers, a single space rack mixer and a wadded up pile of cables. We stole the wireless mic from the announcers booth. We managed to hack into the house PA for the arena and sent the left channel to my stacks and the right to the house rig. I ran to Walmart and bought a few portable CD players and patch cables. No balanced cables anywhere. We were at the mercy of the local radio stations. It was going to have to work.

Well. Two of the four boxes and one of the two amps worked. We stacked the good ones on the bad ones and fired it up. A little tweaking and praying produced and reasonable system. Not for a concert or any event where intelligibility was necessary, but ok for a competition that only needed tracks and house music.

The next issue we had was lighting, backdrop and trusses. Without their massive backdrop, they were still pretty stressed out. We ended up using pipe and drape as tall as it would go. Just black. No flashy backdrop. Not because we didn’t try. That’s another story entirely. We managed to get a few random lighting cans up on the completion area, but nothing impressive.

Doors open. Audience and competitors pour in. House music, cheap CD players, stolen mic, nameless rack mixer and ancient rig work flawlessly. Show ends with happy crowd and client. All is well with the world. Even under absolutely impossible circumstances, we pulled off the show. That’s what they hired us for. A show. Not excuses.

Trust me on this. I have plenty more stories like this. They all ended with the show happening and someone having a nervous breakdown. Sometimes it was me. Show business.

So. Before anyone rushes out and starts working on that monument in my honor, here’s something else to consider.

I am giving you guys story after story of battles I won. I won them simply because I was beaten into the mindset that there are no excuses. Yes, I was good at what I did. I took extreme pride in my ability to pull off impossible shows and events with ridiculous circumstances. It was my trademark. But, keep it in perspective. I ultimately lost the war.

Before I throw out any more stories of victory, remember that I ultimately failed miserably. Retired myself broke, bankrupt, almost divorced and losing the studio I chased for years. Being the best at what you do still doesn’t guarantee a fancy retirement and cash to burn. Sometimes it just means you have had severe tunnel vision and missed the most important stuff.

Even with that impossible situation, my family coming apart, I still have no excuses. It was something I had committed to, it was important and I had to figure out a way to make it happen. I caused my own problems and I had to clean up my own mess. My other blog tells those stories. Read a few. Save yourself some headaches.

As techs, we have to be conquerors and problem solvers to survive. We have to think on our feet, move fast and refuse to accept excuses from ourselves or anyone else. We have to keep in mind, that we exist as support staff, making things happen for other people. Our purpose is in making magic happen for the ones who depend on us.

Just don’t forget to apply that to everything that matters to you. There are no excuses.

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