I almost missed my own gig!

2013-02-15 Croation Center GigThanks to everyone who came out to see my band 6ix 5ive 9ine on Saturday! I think it was one of our best sounding shows yet (excluding my vocals on Rooster), but it almost got cancelled before it even got started. Lets rewind back to Friday. We set up at the venue Friday night and ran through a few tunes. Given the layout and size of the room, I decided we were going to use Bill’s new drum mics and run the drums, bass, guitar and vocals all through the PA system. This was my first time gigging out with the new JBL speakers and stands, so I wanted to hear what the balance sounded like.

Getting the right balance was a challenge. This was a dinner engagement, after all, and we didn’t want to be so overpowering that people couldn’t enjoy their dinner. Not everyone was there to see us play (weird, I know). Everything sounded really good out in front of the speakers… but behind the speakers where we were performing, you couldn’t hear the vocals at all. Not even a little bit. That was a problem, and one that I had to address before the show.

I was using both channels on my PA amplifier already, so I figured I’d pick up a powered speaker to use as a monitor. After I saw the prices of powered speakers, I quickly changed my plan. I decided to buy another PA amp and use the old full range main speakers that Ben and I had built 12 years ago as monitors for this show.

The show starts at 7pm, and I was going to head over there around 4:30pm to set up the new equipment. Good plan in theory… then at about 4:15pm, I get a call from the monitoring company that we use at work. They reported a loss of communication on a large amount of equipment all at once. That’s bad. Real bad. I jumped on my computer and remoted in to the network. I was able to communicate with some resources, but not others. Everything appeared to be on, just not talking. I suspected a network problem, and one that I would have to be physically present to diagnose. Off to the plant I go! At this point in time, I’m livid. Of all times for something to screw up like this, it had to be right before a gig… and right when I was supposed to be installing new equipment!

30 minutes later I arrived at the mill, and my mood didn’t improve any. I quickly realized that in anticipation of the gig that night, I had removed all keys from my keyring that were extraneous. Of course on a normal night my work keys would be considered extraneous, however tonight they were quite necessary and quite absent. I began trying to diagnose things from the guard shack while waiting for the other IT person to arrive. Once he got there and I gained access to my office, I quickly ascertained that the problem was a broadcast storm, and that it was coming from the our HR department. I went to that switch and started unplugging network patch cables until the switch utilization returned to some semblance of normal. The office doors were locked, so we left the offending patch cable disconnected and decided to wait until Monday morning to find out who’s it was.

Bam! Like a bolt of lightning, I’m in my truck and speedily propelling myself toward the gig. It is now 6:30pm and I’m supposed to have a guitar in my hand and be playing in 30 minutes. I can still do this! I broke a law or two, but I arrived with enough time to set up the equipment. All said and done we started a couple minutes after 7:00pm. Given the circumstances, I’d call that a win.

Really when you consider all the things that went wrong, I’d say that things went just wrong enough to make me stressed out and just right enough for me to be able to pull it together and not miss anything.

After all the hurdles that had to be jumped over, the gig went spectacularly! We all had a great time, and by all reports, our sound was the best it’s ever been! Thanks to everyone who came out to see us, and if you noticed that I looked a bit frazzled at the beginning of the show, now you know why!

Oh, and in case you were wondering what the cause of the broadcast storm at work was… the cleaning crew had waxed the floors in HR, and saw a loose network patch cable lying on the floor in one of the offices. They proceeded to plug it into the small, unmanaged network switch nearby on the floor in that office. This just so happened to be the same switch that the other end of the patch cable was plugged into, thus causing a network loop and wreaking havoc on the entire network. So to all you non-network people out there, when you see a patch cable unplugged and you see a place that you could possibly plug it in, please don’t. You will, in all likelihood, wreck some poor Network Admin’s evening.

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