OUCH! We went to hear Dave Mason the other night, a founder of the iconic band Traffic. He played classic Traffic songs like “40,000 Headmen,” and great songs from his popular solo album Alone Together. Mason still has worthy chops and riffs, and the band was terrific.
But as the musicians pursued their usual round of sequentially turning up their instruments, the volume became ear-shattering (even with earplugs). Ultimately we were forced to leave the $75 per person Valentines Day concert early — very upsetting because there was more great music to enjoy. Are others overwhelmed by today’s concert volumes? Wish there was a way to survey the audiences at such events – I suspect we’re not the only ones who can’t take the volume.
I asked our professional-musician son Hannis if he finds concerts too loud and he said, “Sure Dad; everyone does!” Hannis says the problem is that musicians often can’t hear themselves onstage.
“You’d have to interrupt the concert to rebalance their monitors, so they turn up their instruments instead.” Surely in this era of microprocessors there’s a way to balance instrument, microphone, and monitor volumes without every band’s musicians competing with each other and the sound-board operator in a volume contest. Moreover, surely during these tough times the musicians and venues must want our money as concert-goers. So why drive us out? This may have been our last rock concert ever. (One hearing threat down, more to go. Wedding-reception DJs are almost as loud!)
Upon leaving the Dave Mason concert we were blasted by oldies blaring from speakers outside a bar. With all the other health and environmental issues being effectively addressed in our lives, hearing preservation seems totally reasonable. It’s time to start a volume-control movement advocating maximum decibel limits, or at least a decibel-rating system so concert-goers can make their own hearing decisions before buying tickets. The alternative is for those of us who care about our hearing to stop going altogether. And what a shame that would be for everybody.
Let’s rally together on this before it’s too late. Save our Ears! It’s time for volume control! ©2010 Gregory N. Brown