Reasons Why We Don’t Play Live Anymore (that often.. for now at least..)

DISCLAIMER: Don’t take this post as a personal attack, nor as an attack towards *all* PA people or *all* event organisers. This is my opinion and a small transcript of the experiences I had, which are here to point out what the title says: “reasons why we don’t play live anymore (that often.. for now at least..)“.

Psy'Aviah live at Nijdrop, Pluto festivalAs much as I loved playing live with Psy’Aviah, I put it on hold for several reasons. I’ don’t want to rant or complain in this post, as the decision is my own and I just wanted to state why I made those decisions, and that they stem from experience having played small and big venues, from Nijdrop to Ancienne Belgique, from festivals such as BIM Fest to Gothic Festival, Paris, The Netherlands to playing for theatre projects and semi acoustic sets at FNAC venues… Great times I reflect on with a smile, a smile on the times playing and being on the stage itself.

I also want to make clear that this doesn’t mean Psy’Aviah Live will never happen again, I just don’t know why and I don’t know how it will manifest then.

on stage vs preperation

Enjoying the 45 minutes on stage is what I like most. The preperations before and after are so stressful that it kills the enjoyment of those 45 minutes of joy. I never had roadies, so preparing all the technical stuff plus dealing with the in house PA plus dealing with all kinds of things that go wrong plus being on time plus getting gear on/off stage while people are yelling at you or making snarky remarks on how you should better use that kind of DI and putting the blame on your gear, etc.. etc.. I could go on and on. All the rehearsals and scheduling up front. Yes I like that stage time, and I like talking with the people afterwards but rarely there’s time for that as the pre- and post-stage stuff to deal with is a lot, and it takes away from the fun.

The venue’s pa

I don’t want to blame the guy behind the PA too much, he’s a person doing what he likes to do. But the frustrations I’ve gone through during soundchecks and during the concert itself is kind of crazy. Sending in a rider with all technical info is either never recieved or present at the day of the event. So in a noisy environment we have to communicate intent to stage people, lighting people & PA, who are sometimes stressed out themselves as well is not an easy feat.

And some of the times you have PA that’s just incompetent or stubborn… After soundcheck not even writing down the settings, or storing them in the system. How the hell are we supposed to have the same sound at the concert itself then? And then there’s those people behind the mixing desk that just walk away in the middle of your set to smoke a cigarette, leaving the mixing desk alone… These are things I didn’t experience just once, no, it happened a lot. So, we eventually took someone with us to handle the sound, for which I am grateful that he did that. But he himself had to go through the same discussions witht he inhouse/hired PA to explain he will do the sound… While all of that was already explained on the rider…

And don’t get me started when you bring visuals to the live show… The times I heard “whoops, what cable is that?” or “Yes, I’ll arrange that projector for you” and it wasn’t present or malfunctional at the event… What’s the point of a technical rider when nothing is done with it

Ben Van de Cruys on guitarOrganisation

Which leads to the organisation. I understand that things can go wrong, but I can count the events on one hand where organisation was being taken care of ok, and problems during the event were communicated well and with respect. Most of those events were actually outside the so called black/electro scene. Professionalism is rare, amateurism is the norm. And it’s not about the budget or being paid a big fee, but about true professionalism which means respect, timing, keeping your promises and communication to both audience, the PA they hired and the bands that are playing when something is going wrong or when things don’t go as planned. Those four key things are surprisingly difficult for most events/organisations to pull off. This all adds to the stress level and the overall feeling you have as a band on the festival or venue itself. I won’t go into detail, because what happened has happened, but let one thing be clear, respect, communication and keeping promises are things I consider key when you’re invited to play at an event. If they’re not present, you don’t feel comfortable, and it takes away the fun.

And don’t get me started about the lack of promotion or the lack of research that went into organising an event… which often lead to (financial) disasters…

But I STILL ENJOY IT!

And there’s a lot more, but I think I said the most important things. But let me once again state that I enjoy performing live (those 45 minutes on stage). I love to connect with the fans that show up, and creating new fans. And when a good venue, a decent organisation shows up with a good proposal we will perform live again. I want to deliver quality to the audience that comes – and ofcourse we as a band need to deliver that, but part of it is the venue, PA and organisation as well. If those things are not ok, then we won’t.

Flashback, let’s “Keep Hope alive” 😉

To wrap up, here’s a rare clip of “Keep Hope Alive” being played live at “Le Klub” in paris.