OK so it looked like it might rain – but that was no excuse not to go.
I really enjoyed The Dynamites at the Festival First Night in Hyde Park on Saturday night and was keen to see their full set at the opening night of the Beck’s Festival Bar at Hyde Park Barracks.
As it turned out I was very disappointed – and it had nothing to do with the band or the rain.
When I arrived I Like It Like That (the support act) were in full swing with punters dancing on the outdoor dance floor and it sounded OK. Then I moved into the main tented area and thought the mix was very compressed, despite the fact that this is a big band with plenty of percussion and brass – but hey, it was the support act and this was first night after all.
When The Dynamites hit the stage the sound was unfortunately no better. The rain had also started so that meant that listening from outside wasn’t an option (where for some reason the sound was crisper).
The worst of the mix was the Hammond organ. I’ve no idea where the Leslie speaker was miked from (certainly not the rotating horn) but all that could be heard was the bottom end.
During “Summertime” a muted trumpet is featured – and this could not be heard at all.
This was all such a disappointment because the band are fantastic and Charles Walker is a great frontman. The audio mix the previous night in Hyde Park was excellent with plenty of colour and dynamics and the Hammond organ and the trumpet sounded great.
Now I know there are issues with the venue because it is next door to Sydney Hospital. In fact I had to deal with those issues when the venue was first used as a festival club over 20 years ago because I was the technical manager when it first started (as the Bacardi Festival Club). In those days we had audio systems that where no where near as sophisticated as what is available today (three ways systems – bass, 4560 mids and separate horns).
Yes we used compressors and limiters, but the operators I used then understood how to produce a dynamic sound without annoying the neighbours (or the SPL monitor Nazis).
So it seems that these days because the kids listen to their music on mp3 players they no longer get what real dynamics are in music. But this was a fantastic soul/funk band that relies on being heard properly.
It might have been fine for a Gen Y audience but there were plenty of us Baby Boomers who grew up on this music and appreciate the nuances.
I recently had a rant about the mp3 mix at the Bon Jovi concert at the Sydney Football Stadium and I was hoping that the compressed mix would not be the new norm – at least the Hyde Park mix proved that there are still guys out there who do understand dynamics.
I really liked the overall visuals at the venue – the projections onto the front of the building, the artist working in the courtyard, the mass of LED tubes strung along truss to provide the house lighting in the main tent. But I wasn’t keen on the video screen behind the band – it worked well with graphics during the DJ sets but was just bloody annoying behind the band for two reasons – firstly the image delay of a couple of seconds and then because it was fed from a fixed camera with remote control the operator kept loosing the subject and we had images of roadcases or the floor.