MAJOR SOUND ISSUES HINDER L.A. GUNS’ LIVE STREAM CONCERT
Date: November 28, 2020
Reviewer: Pariah Burke
Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography
Venue: Fremont Country Club
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Source: Transcription courtesy of Pariah Rocks (with slight edits) and originating from worldwide syndicated radio show Hard, Heavy, and Hair with Pariah Burke
Anyone else catch the L.A. Guns virtual concert on November 28th, yesterday as I record this show?
It was the entire band — Tracii Guns, Phil Lewis, Ace Von Johnson, Johnny Martin, and Scott Coogan — on-stage playing live in a Las Vegas club to a minimal crowd but simulcast online through Veep. They played the entire Cocked & Loaded LP — their most successful album — in order. It should have been a killer show. It wasn’t.
The band [members] played their asses off, don’t get me wrong. The problem was they sounded like shit.
For the first three songs of the concert, it sounded like all the instruments were unmiked except for Phil Lewis‘ lead vocal mic, and that all the other instruments that could be heard — which wasn’t all the other instruments — were being picked up by Phil‘s mic.
Right about the fourth song, I’m guessing the people at Veep and the sound mixer noticed all the angry tweets and e-mails to support at veep.com, and did a little adjustment, but they never actually fixed it.
By the fourth song, you could finally hear a little bit of Tracii Guns‘ guitar work, and by the fifth song, Scott Coogan‘s drums started to bleed through into the audible range. You could never quite hear Johnny‘s bass or Ace‘s rhythm guitar, and for the entire concert — I mean every song all the way through the finale — the backup mic’s that Ace and Johnny sang into were never turned on. And throughout it all, Phil‘s mic was way, way out front, meaning it was louder than all the other instruments, often to the point of drowning out all the other instruments.
The mix was so bad, at times you could hear the crowd in the club louder than you could hear the players on stage.
For songs one through three — “Letting Go,” “Slap In The Face”, and “Rip And Tear” — it sounded like a karaoke show with a loud microphone and a shitty boombox playing the music from behind the singer.
After song four, when the sound man did some adjustments, L.A. Guns became a three-piece — Phil Lewis‘ vocals super loud, Tracii Guns‘ guitar getting to a decent level just in time for his blisteringly awesome solo 10 minutes before the end of the concert, and Scott Coogan‘s drums mostly audible. There were just two other guys on stage doing weird poses with silent instruments like over-zealous roadies. These fully-dressed, oddly moving go-go dancers also sometimes screamed into turned off microphones as if the band didn’t want them to sing but wanted to make them think they were singing.
Now I don’t know if it was an equipment failure or what. I’m guessing the band sounded great live in the little theater with the small number of people on-site, probably friends and family, and I’m sure they sounded fine in their monitors, so… At first I thought — equipment failure. It can happen at live shows.
But then, by the second and third songs in the set, I started getting pissed. Veep and the sound guy had the ability to throw up graphics into the feed — they did that to hock band merchandise at different times throughout the set — and they could have broken in and had the band announce technical difficulties, paused while they fixed them, and then resumed the show. But none of that happened, which means the sound guys, Josh Hodges and Joshua Good, weren’t listening to the streaming feed sound mix, nor was Veep, the company selling tickets with a 15% processing fee markup to the event. They didn’t even bother to fix the audio mix in the rebroadcast of the live show.
It sucks, too, because the band [members] were playing their asses off. You could see them doing that. You could imagine what they were supposed to sound like. You just couldn’t hear them actually playing their instruments or contributing in other ways to the song Phil was singing. And Phil Lewis sang his ass off, even though he couldn’t remember the lyrics until just before he sang them.
The whole concert I’m texting with my friend Ruben Mosqueda, a writer for Sleaze Roxx — ironically, someone I met at an actual L.A. Guns concert before we both interviewed members of the band. We also both picked up on the fact that from the very first song, Phil Lewis was reading his lyrics off an iPad. Playing through the Cocked & Loaded album start to finish, the band played a couple of songs L.A. Guns had never played live, but for the majority of these tracks, Phil has been singing them for 30 years. Why did he need to look up the lyrics to “The Ballad of Jayne”? But there he is, looking down at the iPad by his feet.
That makes me worry maybe there’s a memory issue here. Or maybe he was just nervous. His first live gig in what, six months? I don’t know. He still sounded great, so I’m not knocking Phil for that. I’m just concerned, like I said.
To Tracii, Phil, Johnny, Ace, and Scott: you guys rocked the house! Thank you for a killer concert. I’m sure there are a lot of requests for refunds coming out of this. That’s not your fault. You need to make sure that Veep absorbs those costs for making you sound like you were rehearsing without all of your equipment instead of putting on a great live show. And I suggest nobody ever work with the two Joshes doing the audio again.
What really sucks is that these are some of the nicest guys working — and they work hard — and their show is going to become a cautionary tale for other bands. People are going to remember how crappy this show sounded because of a sound engineer and booking company who couldn’t be bothered to pay attention.