This is the (true) story about the horrible evening of a sound engineer (fakely) named Félicien, how he reacted and what we can learn from it.
That night, two bands I personally know were playing at a club near my place. My family was away, I had no other choice than to go and party.
Push 2 Open (P2O) are grungy and bleachy with the good ol’ rock formula of 2 guitars/bass/drums. They’re all non-Czechs and good people: where they go the party follow.
Giedi Prime are more original with their electric rock-blues which remind of the Blues Explosion and a vocalist not unlike Jim Morrison. Also, great people.
a weird Klub
Klubovna is a weird place and I love it.
It’s situated in a family-friendly part of Prague which makes explaining direction to the Prague 2,3 & 10 hipsters/coworkers crowd quite difficult (and usually results in a ‘Sorry, too far’).
Also, they don’t have an address; It’s just Klubovna, General Pike Street. No number. Go figure.
Mysteriously, Klubovna needs to be completely silent at 10 pm.
I say mysteriously because it’s surrounded by a railroad, a construction site, and offices. But still, curfew at 10.
Because of the 10pm curfew, the first band (that night Giedi Prime) has to start pretty early so that the second one can do a full set.
And because it’s early, far away and sunny, nobody’s inside at the due start of the show (not even me, sorry guys).
And because of that, as would any band, Giedi Prime decides to wait ‘just a bit, to give people time to come’.
And it pisses P2O off because they want to have the time to finish their set (they organized).
And Félicien, the Sad Soundguy is in the middle.
a Great sound…
At this point of the story, I don’t know Félicien, I still think that the concert will be mixed by the Klubovna soundguy I know and respect: Kazetak.
I worked with Kazetak several times with Steakhouse Orchestra and shoMusic and, the guy has a real passion for his job. He knows how to calm angsty artists, how to quickly solve any technicalities and, most importantly (?) he knows the Klub equipment like the back of his hand (and it’s all analog btw).
…but not tonight
But Kazetak isn’t here tonight. Instead it’s Felicien.
Giedi Prime Concert
He’s already stressed because he didn’t manage to time-manage Giedi Prime so that P2O can start on time.
And Giedi Prime were so unsatisfied with Felicien’s sound that they ask he wouldn’t be paid.
Note: it sounds like a dick move but it’s not. The bands pay for the soundguy in Klubovna, so it’s like hiring someone and not paying him fully because he didn’t deliver.
I cannot judge the sound of GP show because, it’s early and sunny and I’m outside. It sounded ok from outside.
Push 2 Open Concert
Then Félicien needs to be super fast for P2O ‘s soundcheck to avoid delaying it even further.
And the result is catastrophic: P2O sounds horrible.
The vocals are inaudible, the lead guitar is completely absent, there’s too much bass and the rythm guitar go through the overhead for a complete audio gulash.
P2O deseperatly tries to hand gesture this to Felicien but “The vocals are inaudible, the lead guitar is completely absent, there’s too much bass and the rythm guitar go through the overhead for a complete audio gulash.” is difficult to communicate by hands.
Note: The above description comes from some members of P2O.
I enter the club for 2 songs of P2O. Then it’s too hot and I need to go outside (yeah, I’m old like that). Keep that in mind as it becomes important later.
And even if P2O could do it, Félicien is completly in his head by now and isn’t in a position of saving this mess.
So after the show, P2O takes their anger at him.
Not physically, as I said they’re good people. But apparently they tell him a bunch of not so nice things including that he should probably go and find another job.
Why are you telling me this ?
So, at this point, you might wonder why I'm writing this piece on a blog dedicated to Peacefulness & Creativity.
I mean, the various factor of unpeacefulness in the amateur rock scene are a fascinating subject, I have a lot to say about, but,
Fair enough, here's some context.
First of all, I started writing this post about 2 years ago when the story was vividly in my mind and I was excited to share it.
Then, there are 5 S-starting words in the title and that's pretty cool.
And then there's Felicien's reaction.
I start talking to Félicien and he tells me he fucked up and got in a fight with P2O AND Giedi Prime. On that note, P2O members arrive and try to be nice but end up reopening the wound for Felicien.
And he says ‘Je vais disparaitre’.
I’m going to disappear.
Now that’s an odd thing to say for a sound guy so I follow him because I suspect he might want to hang himself with an xlr cable or do some other stupid stuff.
We talk more and he tells me that the bands are right, that he’s new here, he replaces Kazetak who’s taken a break, he started as an assistant and was propulsed as main soundguy too soon.
He checked a 1000 times and doesn’t understand how he could fuck up this bad and he starts going into details about EQ and noise gates.
‘But here’s the thing, I tell him, you didn’t fuck up.’
Same Scene, different Points Of View
When I entered and heard the 2 songs of P2O, it was pretty good.
I could hear the drums, bass and the rythm guitar and clearly the melody of the vocal . I couldn’t hear the lyrics but it’s not something I expect in any amateur rock concert. So i don’t consider this a fuck up at all.
The lead guitar was doubling the rythm and it worked well : it brought energy to the ensemble.
By all accounts it was an above average rock sound.
And I wasn’t the only one thinking that. Klubovna is a weird place and post-show, musicians, audience and sound people are kinda mixed all together. A girl next to us (let’s call her Luisa) heard it and confirmed: yeah it sounded great!
Even P2O’s bassist felt that the sound was good.
Yet Felicien was about to stop his audio career and possibly cut his throat with a cymbal.
So what happened here.
everybody’s fighting a war you have no idea about
Felicien had his reasons for ‘fucking up’ it was his first gig, he had had a long day, his mentor wasn’t there.
And often we tend to forget that the ‘bad guys’ of our life are often this way cause of circonstances.
Compassion is a wonderful feeling and it’s in our own interest to drop the anger and try to understand the other person. Wether it’s a cashier, a crying baby or a soundguy.
There’s more than one reality
I don’t know if you remember the show ‘How I met your mother’.
I kinda liked it.
The best part for me was when they would show the same scene from different point of view.
So now, compare :
I’m a failure, I can’t mix, Imma disappear
This soundguy sucks!
– several band members
Pretty good sound
– P2O bass player
Above average rock concert sound
Which of these reality can claim to be THE objective one?
None of them.
The only reality that matters is the one we make for ourselves.
But our upbringing, external events & destiny in general pushes us toward a set of assumptions concerning the external world and our relationship to it…and it’s rarely great.
In that case, Felicien’s already doubted himself because of his lack of experience and when the bands came at him angrily, he just took it as a confirmation.
This is called a limiting belief: it’s a thought that you carry around and identify with which is not helpful to you.
For Felicien, it would’ve been something like:
‘I’m not a good sound guy, they confirm, I’m not good enough, therefore I’m not a good sound guy.
Yet it’s objectively not true. He was good enough for several people in the audience and even in the band. This limiting belief brought him down and almost stopped his career in audio (luckily it didn’t, keep reading 😉 ).
Now, limiting beliefs are very common, I’m pretty sure we all have them. I’ve been hunting mine since 2010 and I keep finding some.
The thing is they don’t have to be there.
Along the way, I developed a simple technique to identify & get rid of them consistently.
If you think some of your beliefs are holding you back, you could benefit from an “LB eraser”.
Enter your Name and best email below and I’ll send it to you directly for FREE (along with some other cool stuff).
You can’t know how your words will be received
Both P2O and Giedi are my friends. They are genuinely nice people. None of them would wish to inflict psychological pain to Felicien.
Yet, to some extent, they did.
Or did they?
I remember an exercise we did during an Intensive with Neil Strauss. We had to distribute papers to other attendees.
Most of those papers were saying really mean things like
‘you look like the most insecure person in the room’ or
‘you like the most arrogant person in the room’.
Some papers were saying nice things.
I’ll tell the full story some other time but one guy who received a lot of positive papers freaked out because he felt he didn’t deserve it.
Yet another girl was reticent to give the bad papers because ‘she didn’t want to hurt anyone’.
But by giving him the good paper, she actually had.
We cannot know how what we say will impact the person we’re telling it to.We cannot know how what we say will impact the person we're telling it to. Click To Tweet
Both bands wanted to vent their frustration because they are artists and their art (rightfully) matters.
It resonated the way it did with Felicien because of his internal
So the bands were right, to express themselves and, like them, we shouldn’t try to sugarcoat the truth to protect people around us.
Because it might not work anyway
Why is this Story Surprisingly Satisfying?
Well, cause there are 3 ‘S’s.
And also because by the end of the evening both bands & Felicien were drinking together and having a good time and the whole ‘storm’ was gone.
As Far as I know, Felicien still mixes in Klubovna. He definitively learned something about mixing that night and hopefully about himself as well.
As of the bands, they still exist as I write this and if they play near where you live, please consider checking them out.
Hopefully the sound will be good this time.