Meet Four Live Engineers Who Make Your Band Sound Good
WILBERT "PANCHO" LICHTENBERG JR.
Years in the business: 42
Favorite piece of live gear: Behringer X-32 digital mixing board.
Favorite band you've live-mixed: I have a lot, but the Who Band here in St. Louis is one of my favorite bands to mix live. I am from the time when the Who and Led Zeppelin were touring, and I love that style of music. The energy in the music makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, even though I don't like it when bands play too loud. I like to be able to make them sound the way I want them to without having my hands tided by loud stage volume. I really like mixing outside where you can really have more control of the sound.
Best tip for making a show sound good: That would be for the band not to play so loud onstage and for the sound man to mix the band in the PA system where he doesn't have to try to battle the loud sound coming off the stage. Singer-songwriter acts seem to sound the best because they have the lowest stage volume.
One thing the public doesn't understand about your job: How good the concert sounds depends a lot on how good the band is and how much the band listens to what the sound man tells them to do. Most of the bands that have been around awhile usually get it. Some of the new bands fresh out of the basement don't always understand why they can't play as loud as they want. That one thing about volume on stage can make or break the sound of the concert. When something sounds bad a lot of people look at the sound man, but when something sounds good, they usually look at the band. Many people don't understand what the sound man does, and sometimes the sound man gets no credit for all his hard work. But the good bands usually thank the sound man at the end of the evening, and that makes all the hard work worth it.
Worst thing that's happened while working a show: I was working a show at Blueberry Hill and there were two female friends of mine in the sound booth. I normally don't let anyone up there, but I hadn't seen these friends for a long time. They started drinking, and towards the end of the night, one of them spilled a cup of beer on the right side of the mixer and the mixer went crazy. I stopped the show for about five minutes to clean up the mess, and luckily the mixer started working again with only two of the channels not working, which I could live with. From then on, no more drinks of any kind in the mixing booth while I am working.