Live Music Captures “Great Gatsby” Theme: Poor Setting, Acoustics Hamper Bands’, DJ’s Perfomance

By Jeremy Quintin

Elm Staff Writer


For everyone who went to Birthday Ball this past weekend, you were probably treated to a pretty good time. I’ve only gone twice myself now, but the first time (for the “Alice in Wonderland” theme) everything was rather spectacular. This held especially true for the decorations and music, which the budget is clearly splurged on. While it can’t be guaranteed that everyone has the same experience, the student government does everything in its power to ensure that everyone has a good time.

This year that held mostly true. Once again the decorations were pretty fantastic for the “Great Gatsby” theme. They even played the Gatsby movie at the front of the stage, which served only for decoration purposes since everyone would be too busy dancing to watch.

As for the music, there are one or two things which could have gone better. To start off the evening, the first big band did an excellent job playing a list of Roaring ‘20s tunes to fit the theme, plus a number of slower songs to accommodate the couples of the audience.

Then when the second band went on and started playing popular contemporary music, depending on where you were standing, you may have noticed a problem. If you were right up front at the stage, everything probably sounded fine, but if you were on the dance floor or further back, you may have noticed the music was rather bass heavy and absent of treble. This is thanks to the poor acoustics of the gymnasium. All the speakers were set at the front of the stage and, as a result did not carry to the farther reaches of the building. In order to counterbalance this, there should have been speakers placed all throughout the gymnasium to ensure that all of the building received the full extent of the audio spectrum. Then people wouldn’t have had to crowd near the front where walking space was meant to be.

I’m not blaming the band for the poor amplification of their music because, despite the need to balance one’s own signal, the actual setup of the sound system is entirely on the venue’s list of duties. It’s the venue’s job to ensure that the sound carries clearly and equally throughout the concert space, so that every concert attendee gets the best experience out of their night.

Audio equalization aside, the band put together a fine selection of music. Truthfully, most of the music wasn’t what I would choose to play (you all know how I feel about LMFAO), but the band was right to put together a set list full of radio hits and danceable songs because that’s what people want to hear. That said, the night was a good list of pop hits for the crowd. At one point they said they would play Dubstep, which got me excited. They then proceeded to not play Dubstep. That’s just blatantly lying, but maybe that’s for the best when you’ve got a mixed audience who probably wouldn’t appreciate the intensity of bass wobbles.

While the song list was good, the transitions from time to time did not gel so well. One thing the band should have realized was that their drummer was not going to be able to match up to the electronic kicks being played on the emcee’s MacBook. Drums have to use microphones to be amplified, while electronic instruments go straight to the amps and out the speakers. The result is an unbalanced sense of pressure in the kick drums over time and can make finding the beat a challenge. The DJ could also have beat matched the transitions between songs better, as some changes in the beat came across rudely to the ear.

While the music was not nearly as impressive as last year, the overall experience was still good. Here’s hoping that some of these kinks can be ironed out for next year to make the best experience possible.

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