Playing with After Dark part 2

Well, it’s been a while, and almost everything has changed, equipment wise. I figured it’s a good time to review the changes, as much for my own reference as for anything else.

To start with, I no longer use Band Helper. Cantabile (https://www.cantabilesoftware.com) was updated with a new feature that allows changing parameters based on a timeline. Between this functionality and a built-in web server, I’m able to display lyrics on a remote monitor, change MIDI presets, and control lighting all based on the position of a song. It works amazingly well, and allows us to focus on playing, instead of hitting switches to change presets for guitar sounds. Mark and Jeff (and I) are spoiled ;).

Additionally, I’ve included software called Mixxx (https://www.mixxx.org) that runs the intermission music. Typically, if a place is still hopping when we’re done our show, we’ll DJ for an hour with tunes that don’t really fit our repertoire. We take requests and have a large music collection available. If you want to hear a song, just track down someone in the band and let them know.

The light show is still running via QLC+ (https://www.qlcplus.org), because it’s a no-nonsense program that does exactly what it’s supposed to do. We’ve recently changed our light show to cut down on setup time (from an hour to about 10 minutes). Also people were saying the lights were too bright, so we’ve cut out the too bright parts and promise to not blind anyone any more. Also, the front lights have been moved off the top of the speakers. Venue’s with low ceilings made getting them setup correctly a pain (if you thought YOU were getting blinded, you should’ve been on stage), and the setup took too long because they couldn’t be left together/plugged in.

For front of house, we’ve added a FoH “rack” that contains a 31 band EQ (for “pinking” the system), and a speaker processor for delaying/crossover purposes. The Turbosound IQ10s and IQ15Bs still provide the FoH sound, but we’ve added two IP10s for side-fills for bigger locations. Running a silent stage meant people off to the side typically only heard the drums, so adding two side fills gives a better mix (but still not too loud) for those folks that like to hide on the side. These side-fills are crossed over in the speaker processor to prevent phase incoherence for the lower frequencies.

The next step in our show will be synchronized video (also handled by QLC+). We’re still in beta for this part of the show, but the beta tests appear to be working well, so once I have a few spare days, I’ll focus more on getting that polished up and include yet another feature that sets us apart from your ordinary bar band.

It’s gonna be a another busy year for After Dark.

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