Well, at least no one shot a gun at a toilet this time. Unfortunately, that was one of the few positives of the Spring Kick-Off Concert on Saturday night.
I had had high expectations ever since Georgetown Program Board released the band lineup a few weeks ago. Like many of my classmates, I grew up listening to Third Eye Blind. Their debut album, while somewhat repetitive, had three or four smash hits. From a sonic standpoint, it is one of the best-recorded albums of the ’90s. The drum sounds are clean and punchy, the guitar arrangements are clear and dynamic and the vocals are in tune.
Needless to say, I was deeply disappointed by the terrible sound quality in McDonough Gymnasium. This is not GPB’s fault. I have complained about their failure to bring a big-name act to campus in the past two years, but they got the job done this time.
The poor acoustics weren’t due to a cheap speaker system either. In between acts, I got a good glimpse of the setup, which was provided by Clair Brothers, one of the premier sound companies in the world. Having played gigs and attended shows in gymnasiums over the years, I wasn’t expecting pristine sound in McDonough – the dimensions of the space make that very difficult. But the sound mixer must have been missing in action during the show, because all I heard was distorted muddy bass with the occasional snare drum cutting through. Honestly, if I hadn’t seen the guitarist, I never would have known he was there. I’m not entirely convinced he was even plugged in, as the guitar was almost impossible to hear for most of the show.
Similarly, the vocals never cut through very well. Thankfully, the mix somehow improved in time for “Jumper,” a crowd favorite, but for most of the show it was impossible to hear anything clearly, save for when lead singer Stephan Jenkins called everyone at Georgetown smart, which was painfully awkward.
Ideally, Georgetown would create or convert a space to be dedicated to live music, but that is unrealistic. Gonda Theatre is nice for acting performances, but acoustically it too is “dead” for live music. McDonough is far too reverberant and muddy, especially when the sound mixer does not do his or her job. The only benefit of using a space like McDonough is that it can fit a bunch of people inside of it – but at all of the previous GPB events I have attended in McDonough, it has hardly been filled to capacity.
Although it is smaller than McDonough, I don’t see any reason that Gaston Hall shouldn’t be used more often than it is. The main drawback of Gaston is its limited capacity. But if Georgetown continues to put on shows with poor sound quality, there won’t be enough students willing to pay the price of admission to justify the use of a larger venue like McDonough. And if Gaston Hall is good enough for Bruce Springsteen, it is more than good enough for Third Eye Blind.
Colin Nagle is a junior in the College. He can be reached at [email protected] Getting in Tune appears every other Monday at www.thehoya.com