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Why do acts sound better at festivals?

Johnny J 17 May 12 - 11:07 AM
greg stephens 17 May 12 - 11:22 AM
Crane Driver 17 May 12 - 11:38 AM
Elmore 17 May 12 - 11:45 AM
Elmore 17 May 12 - 11:48 AM
Johnny J 17 May 12 - 12:00 PM
Johnny J 17 May 12 - 12:03 PM
Marje 17 May 12 - 12:41 PM
Richard Bridge 18 May 12 - 05:53 AM
Johnny J 18 May 12 - 06:20 AM
Bonzo3legs 18 May 12 - 06:38 AM
Richard Bridge 18 May 12 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,leeneia 18 May 12 - 08:34 AM
greg stephens 18 May 12 - 09:32 AM
Fidjit 18 May 12 - 10:30 AM
TheSnail 18 May 12 - 10:51 AM
Richard Bridge 18 May 12 - 11:10 AM
Joe Nicholson 18 May 12 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,John Haines 18 May 12 - 03:44 PM
breezy 18 May 12 - 03:53 PM
stallion 18 May 12 - 07:47 PM
sciencegeek 19 May 12 - 08:46 AM
Bobert 19 May 12 - 09:29 AM
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Subject: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Johnny J
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:07 AM

I realise that this may be a slightly contentious topic and, perhaps, a generalistion. Please feel free to disagree as you see fit.
:-)

I've already been to a few festivals this year and have seen different acts perform. Many of these have also appeared at local folk clubs and "one off" concerts fairly recently.

Almost without exception, I have enjoyed hearing them in the festival setting better and also felt that they had "upped their game" too.

So, if you agree that this is a fairly common experience, what do you think the reasons could be?

Some possibilities......

1. Shorter, tighter sets rather than two plodding "halves". So, the band/artist is more selective about choice of material and there is also less time to "waffle" and ramble on between songs, sets, etc.

2. Use of professional sound engineers and good PA

3. Both the audience and artists are "up for it" and this helps to create a better atmosphere

4. Acts obviously wish to "raise their game" as there is more immediate competition and they would obviously like to be perceived favourably

5. Less distractions, i.e. from supports, long intervals, club raffles and so on

There may be other reasons or, maybe, you don't all agree?
Also, I would concur that there are also some folk club nights which can be very special and intimate whereas others just seem like a bit of chore at times for all parties concerned.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:22 AM

Drinking beer during the day


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:38 AM

'Sounding better' is very much a subjective assessment. Listening to music is (or at least should be) a two-way process. Perhaps you're listening better at festivals? If you're caught up more in the atmosphere, you may appreciate the music more?

Personally I find it hard to listen to any performer(s) when there's a PA in the way. I prefer the intimacy of an un-amplified gig, both as performer and listener. I'm aware many other people disagree, and I'm perfectly comfortable with that. Obviously both clubs and festivals differ considerably in how they run things, some people will prefer one way and some the other.

You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Elmore
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:45 AM

I don't accept the premise. Festivals sometimes have problems with people who want to talk amongst themselves, not listen to the performers. Then there are the inevitable screaming babies. If I really like a singer or a group I want to see them in concert. Still, this is a matter of personal taste.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Elmore
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:48 AM

Thanks, Crane Driver, that's what I was trying to say.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Johnny J
Date: 17 May 12 - 12:00 PM

"Festivals sometimes have problems with people who want to talk amongst themselves, not listen to the performers. Then there are the inevitable screaming babies."

You can get that in some folk clubs too but I agree that festival audiences are generally a wee bit more fidgety.
:-)


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Johnny J
Date: 17 May 12 - 12:03 PM

I should also say that not all festival concerts are as "family friendly" as this.
Many are also held in good concert halls or rooms sometimes with a bar etc but the atmosphere is different from a normal gig.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Marje
Date: 17 May 12 - 12:41 PM

For me, nothing beats a clubroom with no PA, and being able to sit only a few feet away from the artist or group. Most of the acts I like are at their best in this sort of setting, and the most memorable performances I've seeen are almost all of this type. The performer can talk to the audience as they'd talk to a group of friends, and there's no distraction caused by the technicalities of the sound system. Even at festivals, a morning "meet-the-artist" session in a hall or tent will often be preferable (to me) to a big marquee concert appearance by the same act.

And in my experience, there are far more distractions in a big marquee, with people eating snacks, chatting, texting, moving around, and sometimes paying little attention to what's going on on stage. Sure, a club night may have the dull floor spots, the raffle, the announcements, etc, but once the booked performance starts, distractions are usually minimal, and the attentiveness and engagement of the audience can be quite magical.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 12 - 05:53 AM

What Greg said.

The down-side is the tendency for pianos to turn up on stage at festivals...


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Subject: RE: Why do acts *often* sound better at festivals?
From: Johnny J
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:20 AM

I thought a few of you might disagree.
:-)

As I said, it's a bit of a generalisation and there are also many variants as regards types of clubs, festivals, locations and audiences.

I had thought of typing the fuller question(above) or similar but there wasn't enough space in the original title field.

However, I do feel that some acts benefit from having to perform shorter "snappier" sets although some still waste a lot of valuable time even at festivals.

I take the point about P.A. but many folk clubs have this now while some festival concerts don't necessarily do(They aren't all held in large maquees and fields).

As both Greg and Crane Driver suggest, it might just be a case of being "more in the mood" either through drinking beer or "the atmosphere". Also, festivals aren't usually held on "school days" and one is obviously much more relaxed if they haven't just done a day's work or have to go back on the following day.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:38 AM

There seems to be an assumption that beer is the beverage of choice at a folk festival - not in our house thank you very much!!


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 12 - 06:54 AM

Hemlock?

And since when was there a folk festival at your house?

You ARE silly!


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 May 12 - 08:34 AM

If at the festival, the music is performed outdoors or in a tent, then the sound will be improved because it simply goes out. In a room, a sound goes out, hits a wall, echoes, and muddies the subsequent sound. If the volume is too high (and it usually is), it means lyrics we can't understand, seeming-mumbled commentary, and mushy instrumental music.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 May 12 - 09:32 AM

One great advantage of a festival is as follows: first,take a concert or folk club night out. You are going to see some name act, that you have been assured (in fRoots, a local folk mag and various comments on Facebook) is the bees' knees, taking folk in new directions, entirely staffed by recent graduates of the University of Folkology, and has recently appeared at the Barbican and Cecil Sharp House. One song into their first set, and you realise that they are mind-numbingly boring, and you have laid out a whole tenner for a whole evening of their self-penned drivel. This puts you in a bad mood.
At a festival, faced with the same situation, you have two perfectly acceptable alternatives: have a snooze, secure in the knowledge that a different act will be along in an hour, which will be bound to be interesting in a different way(even if not a good way). Or, even better, you can stretch your legs, buy a little tray of jerk chicken or Thai fish curry and check out another stage, or the acoustic session in the real ale tent.
And if you're at Glastonbury, you can toddle off and see Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Shakira or Rolf Harris, who are all absolutely bound to be entertaining.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Fidjit
Date: 18 May 12 - 10:30 AM

Yeah. Wot Greg said.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 May 12 - 10:51 AM

Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, Shakira or Rolf Harris

Do you think we could get them for the hat?


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 12 - 11:10 AM

Could you put them on a cruise ship and then sink it?


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 18 May 12 - 11:34 AM

I'm 100% with Marje on this one

Joe N


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: GUEST,John Haines
Date: 18 May 12 - 03:44 PM

There's festivals and festivals though, if outside, then of those I've been to, the PA has always been compromised by the weather and so the acts don't sound as good, or didn't seem so to me. As regards inside, then I can't generalise; I've heard some stinkers, many bathtub yodellers and some class acts, so for me it's down to any one act rather than the location. But, outside festivals have a greater freer fun novel relaxation element to them, so even Mrs Mills or Klaus Wunderlich would get a reception usually reserved for the Grateful Dead or Pearl Jam, perhaps this is part of the seeming to sound better thing. But, it's all objective so I can only say, they have been my findings.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: breezy
Date: 18 May 12 - 03:53 PM

your CD player is s..t


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: stallion
Date: 18 May 12 - 07:47 PM

It is interesting in that I have found the opposite occurs, well maybe not all the time. I will not bore anyone with the technicalities of working an audience cos a) I am still learning b) most of the people reading this know far more than me about it. (that is to do with schpeil versus music) I will echo some of the points already made about the audience being more receptive for whatever reason but the most dissapointing thing from a performance and listening perspective is the sound reproduction, we have been lucky and privileged enough to sing at some venues with great sound systems but too many are dire. It isn't really the sound technicians fault but more the venue. For my money the Creme de la Creme of venues is The National Centre for Early Music, try doing an acoustic set in there, you can hear the individual voices and the chord coming back it is bliss and yet some acts that are amplified sound dreadful. I hasten to add, not all. I think ambience plays a big part and also less scrutiny than in smaller venues............hiya Andy how's it going?


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 19 May 12 - 08:46 AM

every performance setting has its plus & minuses... and the challenges of mic-ing vs. purely acoustic.

while hardly an expert, I do have plenty of experience dealing with the sound aspect of performances. poor sound will really detract from any performance and most "modern" buildings are built with lousy acoustics.

the nicest sound I've found ( we'll leave out Lincoln Center)has been in the old wooden churches where, not surprisingly, the goal was to have everyone there hear the sermon... lol. At the Mystic Sea Music Festival the two nicest places to sing or play are the old Meeting House and the Fishtown Chapel. Sweet!

if the sound is good, then it goes to mood & personal preference how you enjoy the performance. and how comfortable the performer(s) are during their set. I enjoy interaction with performers - less so when the "dialog" is rote. and performances that get the audience involved and caught up in the spirit are the best for my money.


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Subject: RE: Why do acts sound better at festivals?
From: Bobert
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:29 AM

I love to play festivals:

Better sound is #1 reason but...

...ya' also are there with other musicians/bands (many of whom you know) and it's always more fun hangin' with and performin' for friends...

IMHO...

B~


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