Published on August 21st, 2017 | by Sunit Nandi0
With technology infiltrating every aspect of our lives, what are the implications for the nostalgia-steeped world of rock n’ roll?
Rock n’ roll has connotations of yesterday. From Kings of Leon echoing the sun-soaked southern riffs of Lynyrd Skynyrd to Green Day covering Scottish 70s punks The Skids, much of today’s music hearkens back to some nostalgic past, real or imagined. However, very few rock bands would step out onto any stage without their roadies having set up a dazzling array of guitar effects pedals, alongside all manner of iPad-driven technology usurping the role once allotted to percussionists or simple organists.
Next time you attend a concert by your favorite band, whether you’re taking along that old mate who’s already been to dozens of similar events with you, or a partner you’ve just met on a free dating site that you’re desperate to impress, take a look at the technology before your eyes. It can be quite spine tingling.
As you make your way from the bar into the cavernous arena, clutching your plastic pint tumbler, the first thing if you will likely notice is the sound and light co-ordination area. In the olden dates this would consist of a singular mixing desk, with a veritable spaghetti junction of wires emanating from it to snake across the various parts of the PA system. Now it resembles the control room at Cape Kennedy.
The stage itself is so much more than simply a platform for the musicians to stand on to enable people at the back to get a view. Building these plinths is no mean feat and usually requires months of preparation. This is an engineering process where aspects such as the weight of the numerous speakers and other kit will need to be taken into consideration. As well as those large black PA stacks capable of spewing out ear-shredding levels of noise, the stage gear will consist of elaborate lighting systems that require synchronization with the music, not to mention smoke machines and/or pyrotechnic devices. Some bands take the visuals to a whole new level. English heavy rockers Motorhead performed under a simulated bomber airplane that had to be rebuilt every night on their tours, according to the weight that each stage would take.
In larger auditoriums it is now common for large screens to project images of the performers. This requires video feeds that send pictures back to the software that can be seen by the engineers in overall control. From this set up, the technical wizards can toy with what the cameras project. As they would any other computer screen, they can play around with the images, enhancing them if necessary. They can also make sure that special effects such as stroboscopes or lasers are perfectly in tune with the sounds the audience can hear.
Other way in which technology has made concerts so much more convenient for the musicians is the use of wireless technology. Apart from the enthusiastic amateurs playing at your local pub, no one trips over stray leads any more!