Calm Under Pressure

It’s 3 minutes until showtime. You’re mixing your first festival. You ask the FOH tech to pull up the festival patch. He looks at you with terror. Someone overwrote the festival showfile. He’s freaking out. You haven’t had a soundcheck or even touched this particular console before. 3,000 people are about ready to listen to this performance and you don’t have anything that will work. Inner Panic ensues.


This is an experience one of our guys had at his first festival. What do you do when everything seems to be breaking? Panic seems like a valid response, but it’s not the most effective. In this particular case, he took initiative. Talking Heads were about to come out and introduce the act. He took over that responsibility grabbed the faders and pushed them up as the FOH Tech worked quickly to build some resemblance of a default show file that might work. The Tech finished with 10 seconds before the act started. Our guy stepped up to the console he’s never touched before. Grabbed the gain knobs and turned to what seemed to be a reasonable number for the console and threw the faders up. Everything worked. A sigh of relief came over him and the FOH Tech. Sure there wasn’t even an EQ applied let alone FX or Dynamics processing, that quickly followed. As the old saying goes, the show must go on. And for these two guys, they barely made it work. But it worked.

The key to this situation and any other stressful situation is staying calm. The panic that starts in your head is only crippling. It certainly makes you work faster but also sloppier. The method we take during stressful times is a couple of deep breaths followed by a practical plan that is well articulated to solve the issue. In this industry, there are a ton of things that can break at any second. If everything worked perfectly, our jobs would be easy. We don’t get paid for when everything goes right. We get paid for everything that goes wrong. A lot of times, you can be the only one in the room that has a shot of fixing the technical problems that surround you.

Assess the situation. Prioritize your steps. And stay calm.