Austin, Texas – Singers for all of Austin’s unsigned original bands sternly demanded an increase in the volume of the vocals in the front stage monitor speakers at every live music venue across Austin Friday night.
“I’m gonna need more vocal in the monitors up here,” David Teller, singer for the local rock band Mein Cough, told soundman Brian Waltz through the center stage microphone at Emo’s nightclub immediately following the band’s first song. “Seriously, man – I can’t hear myself at all onstage.”
Similar scenes played out simultaneously throughout the city’s nightclubs as the entire coalition of local band singers continued to present its unified front in demand of louder vocals in the monitors.
“Dude, I can only hear myself [singing] through the main [house speakers],” said Tyrannosaurus Sex singer John Sanders, demanding that The Parish nightclub’s sound technician Mike Authier increase the volume of the vocal monitors. Though fully aware that the monitor system would be unable to provide sufficient headroom to adequately compete with the band’s stage volume, Authier attempted to meet the singer’s demand for increased volume, resulting in a long, loud blast of high-pitched feedback erupting from the stage speakers. A temporarily deafened Authier eventually rebuffed Sanders’ demands, telling the singer that the vocal monitor volume was at its limit.
“During soundcheck I suggested that the band’s guitarists and bassist turn down their amplifiers so the singer would be able to hear himself in the monitors,” reasoned Authier, 34. “‘Oh, you can’t hear your vocals in the monitors? Well, maybe – just maybe – that has something to do with your guitarist having his Marshall [amplifier’s] volume set on ten [for] the entire set.’”
Authier noted that the relatively small size of the venue dictates that musicians’ amplifiers be set on a lower volume in order for the vocals to be heard clearly in the stage monitors.
“This isn’t an arena, for Christ’s sake – turn your damn amps down. Is that so hard to understand?” Authier questioned.
Joining Teller and Sanders in the heroic stance were lead singers from unsigned Austin bands from every genre, although rock and metal singers bore the largest responsibility for getting the message across to area soundmen.
“Metal bands always play the loudest, and their singers are always bitching about not being able to hear themselves [sing],” said Waltz. “Most of the heavy bands have terrible, terrible singers – so much so that you’d think that the singer not being able to hear how awful he sounds would be a good thing. But instead they blame the ‘shitty monitors’ for their poor performance. I hear it every night: ‘Need more vocal in the monitors. Still need more vocal in the monitors.’ Sometimes I think singers just think they’re almost obligated to say that in between songs because they see everyone else doing it. Fucking babies.”-Cliff Frantz