R-E-S-P-E-C-T

By Robert Caprio / May 22, 2015

Aretha said it best. You either have it or you don’t and these days I see less and less of it. When I’m not on tour I do a lot of work with local sound companies and as such I do a lot of corporate events. One company I work with has an exclusive contract for all the audio needs in a busy Manhattan event space. This particular space, while beautiful and ideal for events, is an acoustic nightmare. It’s an oval shape comprised of concrete-like walls about 40 feet high with a domed ceiling. The RT60 time in there is about… 60.

 

So we all know what a typical corporate event comprises. Usually it’s a lectern with a couple of mics on it and perhaps a lav and/or wireless hand-held(s). We also know it can sometimes (ok, almost always) be difficult to get the speaker to observe proper mic technique and project when they are speaking. That, in combination with the acoustics of the room make it difficult to get the speaker’s voice heard. So where does respect fit into all this? Well, it wouldn’t be so hard to get the speaker’s voice to be audible if the attendees weren’t so DAMN LOUD. I’m more and more often shocked at how loud the audience can be when there’s a speaker on stage trying to communicate. It’s getting worse too… I look out at the audience and see folks showing off pictures on their phone or in some cases they’re ON their phone holding their own little conversation while there’s some CEO or someone up on stage. What the hell people????!?!?!?

 

Before a year or so ago I can’t recall ever wanting to get on a VOG (voice of God) mic and tell them all to shut up but in recent months I’ve wanted to do that at EVERY event I’ve done, and that’s quite a few. Even after a few shhhhhs, clinking of glasses and maybe a quip over the VOG they still keep talking! In fact, some folks try to talk OVER your efforts to quell the din. How dare we interrupt them so we can focus on the presentation at hand? The truly alarming and ultimately disrespectful aspect of all of this is that at many of these events all the folks in the building work together. So the employees of the company are basically dissing their boss while he’s trying to talk to them about whatever the subject of the evening is.

 

I’m literally writing this as I sit backstage during a break for an event benefiting a well-known Long Island Academy. The rudeness of the attendees is utterly shocking. They had a choir of students perform the National Anthem and a rendition of a Foreigner song and they were fantastic. These poor girls were knocking it out of the park (they were very, very good IMHO) and I doubt half the folks in attendance even acknowledged they were there. Even during the hostess’ speeches there were many, many folks leaning in to speak in each other’s ears, completely ignoring her. She even had to pause more than once to try and get everyone to settle down and she was never completely successful.

 

It’s a sad day indeed when you have to contemplate GBF (gain before feedback) not because of a loud stage or overpowering monitors but because of the audience who are there to see the performance and/or view/hear a presentation.

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About the author

Robert Caprio

Void began working in recording studios in the winter of 1988 after doing live sound for numerous bands throughout high school. He started out as a general assistant for producer Ric Wake (Taylor Dayne, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez) at Cove City Sound Studios on Long Island. Within six months he moved on to become a second engineer & drum programmer on many gold & platinum recordings. He left Cove City & Wake Productions after about a year & a half to begin freelancing as a first engineer at Media Recording & The Music Palace on Long Island. While working in these studios Void began to develop his own engineering & production style. After two more years on the Island, Void began working in Manhattan at such studios as The Power Station (Avatar), The Hit Factory & Electric Lady Studios. Working in all of New York’s world-class studios for the next five years gave Void the opportunity to acquire more knowledge & experience in the field of audio recording & production. Since that time Void has worked with top engineers & producers such as Ray Bardani, The Bomb Squad, Tony Brown, David Gamson, Mick Guzauski, Mark Heimermann, Steve Lipson, Shep Pettibone, Glenn Rosenstein & Russ Titelman among many others. After living in Nashville, TN for eight years & building his own studio (Interzone), Void has moved back to New York & is working with the area’s top sound companies & in the area’s most prestigious studios. His experiences as a 24-year veteran of audio & production enable him to work proficiently & effortlessly in any studio or stage environment. Void has extensive experience behind the console in live audio having toured as FOH engineer & tour/production manager across the US and abroad with numerous prominent artists. Void has recently been instrumental in the meteoric rise of NY based teen sensations Push Play having produced, recorded & mixed their debut album “Deserted” as well as touring with them throughout the US. Void has also been achieving success as a composer having recorded & released three albums for music library companies OneMusic & 615 Music. Void's compositions have been heard extensively on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Food Network & Saturday Night Live among others.

5 comments
Mical Caterina - June 18, 2015

Re: R E S P E C T – I couldn’t agree w/you more! I usually keep a spare handheld mic at FOH that I bring the level up and tap on the tech table (emulating speaker tapping mic at lectern) which usually gets crowds attention.

You are totally correct and yes it’s frustrating as HELL, but sadly it’s the “me now” society we live in.

Reply
    Bill Evans - November 6, 2015

    Mikey! When are YOU gonna start blogging. We need you brother. I saw that they did a really nice tribute to Jerry at the Parnellis. It was funny, though. Linda was able to read the piece from the picture of it on FB and told me that it mentioned a memorial jam that both Kevin Mitchell and I attended. I could tell by the punctuation that the piece, when talking about the event said “Bill Evans, former editor of FOH.” but in print it just said “a, former editor of FOH. From now on I may ditch the Rev. handle and go by Voldemort. I am He Who Shall Not Be Named. But seriously. We need you brother.

    Reply
Frank Shaw - June 18, 2015

I get so P—-d of at gigs where everyone is looking at their phones or looking through them taking videos, and missing the gig WTF, talking so loud their annoying, I’ve got to the point of asking them to STOP.
I paid good money for my tickets and I want to watch the show, not look at the never ending sea of screens.

Reply
    Bill Evans - November 6, 2015

    Losing battle, Frank. I actually agree but that just means we are both old… LOL

    Reply
Brian - June 18, 2015

I have run into this so many times it scares me. People in the audience being louder than he performer on stage. Unfortunately, that lack of respect is showing up in all aspects of daily life.

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