Today is Good Friday. I've always questioned that nomenclature, and having just watched The Passion of The Christ earlier this week, it still doesn't seem to fit. What happened was ultimately good, but the process was surely not. Watching the movie was difficult, as much as for the violent beating Jesus took on our behalf, as it was for the way He behaved toward His tormentors. It struck me as profound that while Jesus was being beaten to within inches of His life, He was dying for the very sins being committed against Him. I can't even begin to comprehend that kind of love for others. It really puts things in perspective when a singer wants a little more "me" in her monitor, for the fourth time in as many minutes.
Having done this church tech thing for quite some time, I've dealt with some difficult artists. Few, if any, were bad people. They were just trying to produce the highest quality product they could, and sometimes lacked people skills. God has softened my heart quite a bit in recent years, and I'm much more tolerant than I used to be, though sometimes it takes work to get along. Watching The Passion really helped drive that point home. The work is worth it, because it is what is best for the Body. When we display an attitude of servant-hood, and really serve the people around us, we are reflecting Christ, and that will do more to further the cause of Christ than copping a 'tude and yelling at the vocalist that she has enough and must be deaf if she can't hear it (not that I've actually ever done that...it was a guitar player and turns out he was deaf in one ear...but that's another story).
Nonetheless, as a technical arts director (or sound guy for that matter), sometimes you have to make the tough calls. Just last night I had on stage 6 incredibly talented musicians for our Good Friday services (we do 2, one ends up on Thursday). If you've read this column at all, you'll know we switched to the Aviom personal monitoring system about 6 months ago and haven't looked back. I've had the entire backline (all instrumentalists basically) on "ears" for months. No wedges or amps on stage. The effect on the house sound is amazing. With no stage wash to contend with, we can dial up a really sweet house mix
The trouble was, these guys and gals like to play with amps and wedges. They use the Avioms in the studio (they are all semi-pros...), but like wedges when playing live. I was reasonably sure we could have kept the volume down, but it would still color the house. And for this service, with the style of music and the feel of the drama that was also happening, I knew it would be a impediment to the optimal worship experience for the congregation. So, I did what I had to do; told a group of amazingly talented musicians, all my senior, that they couldn't have what they wanted, and that they were going to use the Aviom system. They took it like the pros they are, but I know they were frustrated.
By the end of an amazing, worshipful night, everyone was fine. The music was incredible, the drama powerful and all came away feeling like we had led the Body closer to Christ. Could we have worshiped had the band used wedges and amps? Probably. But the experience would not have been the same. I would not have been able to modulate the volume to match the mood, and that would have created several jarring transitions. Going the route I took meant the entire evening was fluid, and the look on people's faces as they left was enough for me to know I did the right thing.
Thanks for reading - and have a joyous Easter celebration on Sunday!