Well, I can’t say that blues is my thing, but I can say that “Twice As Good” did have a good sound, fun tracks and a healthy appreciation for their audience. This post, however, is all about taking something twice as good, and maybe making it three times as good… because there were a number of obstacles that I think impacted the show, and I hope this post serves bands and venues alike when considering the impact to their potential audience. This show was hosted by the Smithsonian Native American Museum – an incredible building housing a really great collection that is laid out in style. It’s a great venue, but I think it could’ve pulled in more people. Here it goes:
- They put the band in the atrium. Although the atrium is impressive, it did two bad things:
- First – nobody outside the museum could hear the music, so there was no ability to draw people to the venue during the performance.
- Second – the atrium isn’t designed for…blues…the band sounded muddy in a lot of places. To combat that, they cranked the volume, but that gave the audience the option of “loud and clearer” or “muddy and quieter.”
- Ironically, I found the sound did clear up as I rounded the corner opposite the stage… which means the sound quality improved as people worked their way further into the museum, but that leads to another venue issue. The museum was closed. So, for the people who did find out there was a band, they still couldn’t tour the museum (and benefit from the exhibits as well as improved sound of live music).
- Next, if a person cannot walk through a museum, what might they want… how about a beer or a margarita? No liquor license… OK, how about a water, a lemonade, a hot dog, or whatever? The Native American Museum is one of the few venues that has a cafe, and the cafe was closed! Gah!
- The show was blues/funk, but the seating was not… the seating was setup like chamber music or a lecture. Rows of seating might work for a megaband playing at Verizon Center, but for a more intimate venue of this music style, maybe keep the seating more casual… do a dance floor and cocktail rounds.
The Smithsonian Institution, as a whole, makes so many amazing things possible for the general public, so it’s not like this event was a failure. I just felt like there was this zesty band imparting energy and their energy couldn’t be heard outside the building. Inside the building, people would have to sit like a structured performance, with no access to the museum or its cafe. I think this arrangement hindered the goals of the museum and the band, so I wrote about it in the hopes of helping both future venues and future bands consider their options when setting up a performance.
I will say this – Twice As Good has a good rig! They have a sound guy AND a Robocam guy (that is indeed twice as good). I was able to snag a shot of one of the unsung heroes 🙂 As someone who has worked in the media production arena, I like to showcase the folks behind the cameras and audio cables. So, in summary…
- Either put the band outside and then pipe their sound into the museum, or have them inside make sure their sound is broadcast outside to attract the street crowd
- Let people explore the museum
- Use a dance floor (nothing elaborate) and cocktail style seating
- Either keep the cafe open, or make arrangements for concessions (within the seating area only, so the museum doesn’t get trashed)
- If housing a band in an indoor atrium, consider some audio engineering/dampening to improve the quality within the atrium area