As I surpass the two year mark mixing FOH for Cee Lo Green I figured I’d let you all in on some of the more interesting facets of this gig.
I first met Cee Lo in 2010 as a MON tech at a corporate show. He had a monitor engineer but he wasn’t familiar with the Avid Profile at MON world so I was asked to jump in and get things dialed up. The show went smoothly and afterwards I exchanged numbers with the TM.
Flash forward about 9 months and I’m on tour doing monitors for Greyson Chance and Cody Simpson.
The TM of that tour, Geoff Perren, was actually Cee Lo’s new TM and was squeezing this run in on a break from working with Cee Lo. Geoff has been in the industry for 40+ years and has worked on some amazing tours. After we finished that tour Geoff asked if I was available and as I only had local work booked at the time I said “yep!” He said Cee Lo might need a new MON engineer for the upcoming support run with Rhianna.
Sounds good to me I thought.
As it turned out they didn’t need a MON guy but Geoff called me one night and asked if I also mixed FOH and of course I told him yes, and that was actually where I had more experience.
Two weeks later I flew out to Nashville for a few rehearsals with Cee Lo. Cool! Since then we’ve done HUGE shows like arenas all over the US with Rhianna, Glastonbury as a headliner on the Holts stage, Lollapalooza and many others. We’ve also done countless tiny shows like small club gigs few people even know are happening. We’ve done up to three shows in one day and quite often two shows in one night. We’ll often tape a TV show appearance before or immediately after a concert which can certainly add to the frenetic pace of the day. We’ve been on pretty much all the late night and talk TV shows. Suffice to say we’ve had a wide variety of performances.
To get to all these gigs we’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles (thank you member program upgrades!) and have been all over the world.
Speaking of flying… EVERY gig has been a fly date for us. Every gig. We haven’t been on a bus at all.
Even local gigs in my home area of NY are fly dates for me since it’s likely we’re coming in from somewhere else. Sometimes we get to indulge on a private jet which is a blessing. What’s the best thing about flying private you ask? The big seats? Nope. The unlimited free drinks? Nope. It’s NOT having to go through the TSA checkpoints at major airports and not having to deal with those morons. That’s a whole other blog in itself.
Since we’re not technically “on tour” and everything is a fly date we can’t book people for extended runs or put ’em on retainer so we have to maintain a HUGE group of talent to keep the shows going. Because of that we’re “regulars” at CenterStaging in Burbank, CA since we’re always having to rehearse new people.
Even when flying privately things don’t always go smoothly. Due to various logistical difficulties associated with fly dates we’ve shown up with 15 minutes to set up a whole stage and line check. I’ve had my Pelican mic case roll off the luggage carousel with items missing and damaged.
Sometimes things haven’t shown up at all and we all know how much fun that is.
Sometimes our ground transportation people are flaky and forget to come get us or think we’re arriving tomorrow. No, we’re here NOW! Some of the rides to our hotel or venue have been treacherous to say the least. But in the end we have made it every time… so far…
Once we get on site there are often more surprises awaiting us. We’ve had less than ideal stage and gear conditions on numerous gigs where we’re pretty sure no one even so much as glanced at our rider. We’ve encountered situations where only one guy on the entire crew speaks English and he’s off putting out every fire but ours. From the stage hand in flip flops and an orange wife beater to the 100 year old roadie who knows more than all of us put together, we’ve seen it all.
Our motto has been “Never the Same Show Twice” and that’s true. For all the shows we’ve done we have literally never played the exact same show twice. We’ve been through 6 bands of various incarnations… 3 different types of playback rigs… 3 production coordinators… the list goes on… as does the show! Through it all the core crew of Geoff as TM, myself and our monitor guy/PM Aaron “AA” Dilks, has stayed true.
As we move forward this year we have a European festival run coming up as well as numerous one offs. In the fall, Cee Lo reunites with his original hip-hop group Goodie Mob for a tour through the US. I’m sure more surprises and unique situations await us and I welcome them all. If variety is the spice of life then this gig is “One Spicy Meatball!”