Part of my job that makes me giddy? Testing microphones before they go out. Every different model has its own individual tweak. I got a call from veteran studio engineer, Jef Moll, the week prior. Jef is someone I met here in Chicago years ago and he’s been moving ever onward and upward, finding himself in increasing demand as time marches forward. He’s also had an association with one of Chicago’s more successful bands of the past decade, Chevelle. They were working together again, this time to produce a live album and DVD: a ten-year retrospective show at Chicago’s legendary Metro.
Jef was working with Chevelle again on their new project. He was looking for solutions for ambient and crowd mics all over the place. After discussing his wish list with him, I set about testing the loaner gear: a stereo pair each of our KSM137, SM89, and (my favorite) SM57. There were a few of our A27Ms in there too. It’s a stereo mounting solution that is a great little miracle worker, versatile and easy to use.
Friday night I worked my way over to the Metro to see the first of their two sold-out shows. It’s a fitting place to do this type of show. Many bands know the part that Metro owner Joe Shanahan plays in their career, and many of those bands are happy to come back and give the place its proper tribute. It is absolutely the place to catch acts that could fill much larger rooms doing their “intimate” shows…if you can get the ticket.
When I arrived I went upstairs to the Metro’s smaller, secondary theater space, where Jef had set up his recording rig. We chatted briefly, but he was working so it was downstairs to the main space for me. I set myself in the FOH booth where long-time Metro engineer and long-time Chevelle engineer Mike McGee was ready to go work. We caught up briefly before the band made their way up to the stage.
The setlist was full of hits and fan favorites. They opened with “The Clincher” and tore through sixteen songs in their set, with a two song encore. One of the things that got me to listen to the band in the first place is the huge guitar tone Pete Loeffler gets out of his rig. It’s a pretty simple set-up, too, as is my understanding. I also like how they describe themselves in terms of genre: heavy rock. It’s very appropriate; it doesn’t sound quite like metal, it doesn’t sound quite like radio rock (though it fits well on the airwaves).
After the show I went back to congratulate the guys on a job well done. I spoke with Sam Loeffler and Dean Bernardini briefly. They mentioned wanting to come by Shure HQ to see the operation, so hopefully that will happen soon. It’s always encouraging when a band expresses interest in getting to know their gear.