Denver, Forced Insomnia, Orders of Magnitude

Right now we’re heading down I-15 towards Vegas. I just swapped driver roles with Chad. Today’s a drive day, tomorrow’s a party day, Wednesday’s show day.

About half of the Denver>Vegas drive is the same as the Denver>SLC drive, which is quite beautiful. And much of the second half is just as great. I insisted we pull off to a viewing area to take in these amazing canyons and mesas. It turned into a bit of a photo op. Brian’s not wearing sleeves today, in an attempt to even out his farmer’s tan…by sitting inside a van sleeveless all day? Sure.

J.J. is on board for the next 5ish days. Having J.J. around just makes everything rule way harder.

Anyway, we played Denver Rock City yesterday.

The overnight drive back from SLC was a bitch. I didn’t get any sleep until the last couple hours of the drive when I got to steal the back bench. So all day I was totally hazed out. We all were.

But Denver is our best/favorite place to play outside of Chicago, so we were still juiced up. But when we get in front of a Denver crowd, there’s no choice but to get juiced.

The crowd was fantastic, and quite large. There seemed to be a real appreciation for the song choices and musical arrangement details we worked into the set beyond just “Geeks,” which is our radio hit out there. Very exciting to see kids into everything, not just “the single.”

We were all just destroyed by the end of the fest last night. Didn’t stop us from having a bit of a pool party at the hotel, though. Showering definitely provided a crucial eighth wind.

Oh, and Superfan Audrey dropped off a rockin’ tour care package, which contains all kinds of supplies for partying, recovering, and surviving. Way, way rad. Will come quite in handy over this Vegas stint. Thanks, Audrey!

ALERT: THIS IS THE OFFICIAL END OF THIS BLOG POST. WARNING, THE FOLLOWING IS A LONG WINDED TECH RAMBLING, SO WHATEVER, YOU’VE BEEN WARNED, MAN.

Despite how well the set went over, it was still pretty stressful on stage at times.

In the morning Travis suggested that we change our in-ear-monitoring setup for this tour.

Our current setup uses a 24-channel splitter snake, a Mackie 1604 VLZ board, and a few cheap compressors. That’s great for club tours, where the system is different every day and we can maintain a consistent mix despite all the vagaries of playing different venues. It requires a little extra work during setup just to get the lines patched into our spliter (and our splitter outputs into theirs), but once everything’s patched correctly it eliminates any work on the venue’s end to run our monitors.

ANYWAY, this being a tightly-run festival tour, that extra patching work eats into precious setup time in the middle of the day. And while we use with a mixer we got for $250 on Craigslist, Travis is mixing every other band’s monitors on his fully-loaded Avid Venue digital console that costs about $25,000.

So, by skipping our splitter and patching directly into Travis’s rig we save a ton of time setting up. Rather than patching 16 channels into a few different boxes (with a high chance of screwing something up every time) we just hook 5 of the Venue’s outputs directly into our in-ear transmitters. And being a digital board, our individual mixes are saved and can be recalled every day. Plus we get the much higher sound quality of a system that’s literally 100 times more expensive (and that means it’s 100 times better, right? Actually, yeah it does).

SO ANYWAY THE STRESS PART. The only problem with this beautiful setup is, we didn’t have much time to set up all-new mixes with Travis before our set. That means we weren’t quite hearing everything in the same way we’re all used to. And as various adjustments were being made throughout the set sometimes we’d lose certain channels, or in Chad’s case the entire mix…

But now that we’ve got basic mixes set up, the worst of it is behind us. Now our ears will be sounding consistently great, and our already-efficient setup process will be even faster.

*sigh*

Oh, one more thing. Our friend Suge, who on the 2010 tour did guitar tech for 3OH3/Cobra and crucially helped us out in several pinches, is teching for The Used on this tour. He showed up at our stage yesterday right before our set, I thought just to check us out, but he ended up being a MASSIVE help getting through those rough patches. He was communicating Chad’s needs over to Travis, holding up our scrims (on-stage banners) when the wind was threatening to knock them over, and even taping Bill’s power pad down when it started to slide around. All without any obligation or anything from us. The guy just rules the school.

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