I recently traveled out with a regional act on a weekend warrior type run. The act is a personal friend and it was great to go out with them. We were carrying some small production(with no crew) and the gig was at a prominent club in a smaller town in the Northwest. We showed up to a vastly undersized stage on the back patio of this club, with no AC power and no lights and a low hanging tent. Awesome!(sarcasm) we loaded in and found some AC and used some road cases as make shift wedge stands and after it was all said and done it looked pretty good. Here is a Pic , the sound wasnt too bad either. During sound check we had a few sound complaints. which is pretty standard. But no big deal and we worked through them.
The gig starts and house is packed. There is a line to get in and its standing/Mashed in room only. The crowd is super into the music and the band is playing great! Everything you could ever want from a club gig like this! Half way through the second set a guy walks up and leans over starts to talk to me. (He was in his 50's and not at all dressed for this club). He says he is a sound engineer as well and tells me all about his experiences and his life and music industry opinions etc etc. Since I was nice and didn't ignore him he continued to tell me more and more and more and eventually our relationship apparently had developed to the point where he felt confidant in giving me mix advice and then to take it a step further he also presided to tell me that if he had been mixing the show it would have been better but "not to be insulting, your just not up to my level" :-) not at all, not sure how anyone could be insulted by that :-)
Im gonna back up a few steps, the main reason I listened to everything he had to say was this. I should be able and open to learning anything from anyone. Younger or older. He had some interesting points through out the evening. Some based merely out of the fact that he didn't know the current Speed limits and power issues which contributed to some of the reasons the mixed developed the way it did. Not to mention the non ideal environment of mixing in a tent. But one thing I wanted to focus in was this. During the set he asked me about specific mix things and why I was doing them that way. My response was that I know and the artist really well and I know how he wants me to portray his live sound to his audience. The older sound guy disagreed and said " it doesn't matter what the artists or the promoter wants its about the music" this may explain why this individual with such a vast resume ( that he told me all about ) was doing audio in a small town and spending his spare time down at the club where the regional acts tour through harrassing the sound guy. :-) but I don't want to completely ignore the statement for discussions sake. I have had artists in the past that I really didn't agree with how they wanted me to mix for them. I thought they were wrong and near sighted and ignorant. Some artists have little say or care about the FOH mix. Some have a huge role in deciding that. Just depends on the artist. I prefer to work with artists who give some creative freedom and and artist who works with me to help portray them in the best way possible. But when it comes down to it, the bottom line is this, its the artists work. Its there piece to do with what they want. or if you dont like that answer how about this one... they are writing the checks :-)