Gig Performer in Bearsville Theater with FOH engineer Robert Frazza

Gig Performer in Bearsville Theater with FOH engineer Robert Frazza

We had a conversation with former Bearsville Theater FOH sound engineer Robert Frazza on Gig Performer.

Robert Frazza is a sound expert with 40 years of experience managing tours and supporting hundreds of national and international bands. He began earning his chops at the age of 15 in the clubs and recording studios of NYC. Starting at “The Toy Specialists”, studio equipment rental. They supplied all major  recording studios in NYC with outboard gear. There he learned the art of creative troubleshooting, with the end goal of achieving a standard of perfect sound quality. His early clients include Robbie Dupree, Orleans, Donna Lewis, Belinda Carlisle and Todd Rundgren.

Until recently, Robert’s home base was the Bearsville Theater, where he was Director of Programming and Production. This interview was conducted in March 2021 while Robert Frazza was running the FOH for Bearsville Theater. Robert has since left the theater to focus on touring as a sound engineer with Stick Men, Security Project and more.

An interview with FoH engineer Robert Frazza in Bearsville Theater

Robert uses Gig Performer as one of the main elements of this Front of House sound and here are some questions and answers from our interview.

Q) What have you been doing since the touring industry came to a grinding halt?

A) Luckily for me, Lizzie Vann, the new owner of the Bearsville Center property in Woodstock, NY contacted me in August of 2019 to come back to the Bearsville Theater to advise her on the refurb of the facility that I’ve spent 30 years, in some capacity offering audio advise or even running it from 2010 to 2015. We had accomplished our goals by February 2020. Unfortunately, we were shut down 2 weeks before we were scheduled to open in March due to Covid restrictions.

Lizzie Vann in Bearsville Theater

The last week of February 2020, Tony Levin’s “Stick Men” had a month long tour scheduled for Japan and China that I had agreed to do. We had gotten advance notice that the China dates were canceled because of everything the Chinese were going through at the time. But Japan was still on! Tony Levin and I took the flight to Tokyo, we met up with Pat Mastelotto, Markus Reuter and Gary Husband, only to find out the Japanese tour would be canceled as well. We all had some Sushi and came home. Then of course, all touring was off. We are now looking at 2022 as far as I can see.

Q) What changes has Bearsville Theater gone through since the new owner took over? Can you share with us some of the challenges you experienced in the theater’s redesign process?

A) Complete gutting of the building from the foundation up! We had major water damage from the creek that runs just out back of the venue. We chose to not alter the John Storyk design that Albert Grossman hired him to do back in the 80’s. The room has such a natural sound that I didn’t want to lose.

Production wise, I’ve upgraded our 1500 Watt audio system of 30 years to a 20k Watt Danley system, as well as going 100% digital on consoles, full LED lighting rig, and a 6 camera video system.

Q) Why did you choose Gig Performer and what are the improvements and benefits of using Gig Performer compared with the previous setup?

A) Why did I choose Gig Performer? Literally because it was designed for me personally. I’m not sure I can answer this since I’m so close to it. As you all know, David Jameson and I had been touring with a group called the “Security Project”, and he would watch me every night with my X32 rack that I was incorporating Logic audio and recording all the shows multitrack. But also accessing plugins because I wasn’t happy with the installed reverbs on the X32. Through Logic, I could access my Plugins. Lexicon, TC, Waves etc.… But I was having an issue with latency and reliability of the program. It was a 50/50% chance I would capture the whole show. David was watching me struggle with my system at the time and said: Ya know, I think I can make this easier for you! He showed up the next day with a working version of Gig Performer that incorporated all of my requests after 1 conversation. Needless to say, I was sold. The program didn’t tax my CPU the way Logic did. I had access to all my plugins. What more could I ask for? I’ve not lost one show since then.

Robert Frazza is recording 32 channels in Gig Performer

I recorded all Security Project shows with Gig Performer, and I think the past five live records from Stickmen are recorded all on Gig Performer as well.

Q) What are some of the benefits you found using Gig Performer over the previous setup you mentioned?

A) Beside the reduced CPU drain, the other thing is actually being able to program songs. With Logic I just set up a generic scenario and that would be it for the whole show. With something like Security Project, there’s a lot more effect-wise stuff going on from song to song – reverbs can change, tempos can change… I can do all of that from Gig Performer.

Q) How are you incorporating Gig Performer into the new sound system at Bearsville Theater?

A) The same way I incorporate it on the road. I multitrack every show I do. And want access to all my plugins to give me a complete palette of sounds that the digital consoles don’t afford. Working with Members of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel’s band requires a bit more than the norm.

Q) In terms of both hardware and software, what does your FOH rig consist of?

A) Software is purely Gig Performer for both systems. The Bearsville Theater incorporates Midas consoles while my touring rig is a Behringer X32 with an S16 to upgrade to 32 channels. I use this for what I call my Boutique acts. These are bands that have to take the financials into consideration. The fact that we can tour the world with the same monitor mix, record every show and put this in an 8 space rack that costs $50 as an extra bag on a plane makes it a no brainer.

Q) You use a very unique setup for Front of House when you are out on the road and when did that start to take place?

A) Well, it’s always in the back of my mind considering how can we do this without tons of gear. I did a tour with Todd Rundgren in 2004 called The Liars Tour and for financial reasons we had to get band, crew and all of our gear into one bus pulling a trailer.

Todd Rundgren's Tour in 2004 - The Liars

This was also the first fully LED lighting, so we were carrying all that lighting. Obviously, we couldn’t bring these gigantic consoles and all these monitor wedges and stuff like that so we were thinking how can we get this smaller. This was 2004 so the digital consoles were not huge then so the best thing I could get was a Roland VM 7200 which gave me 20 input channels, but the real estate it took up was two by two feet. And 20 channels for the monitors would be enough because I wasn’t necessarily putting in all the toms or all the extra stuff. We got the guys on in-ears and this was also the year that Bose came out with the L1 cylindrical radiators and we used those as side fills. It was also the early days of the amp modelling stuff. We didn’t have any amplifiers on stage so they were using the Line 6 stuff. Again, without the Front of House PA on, the only thing that you’re hearing is the drum kit on the stage so everything else is in their head. That was probably the beginning of how do we make this smaller. A big part of this is using this sort of systems with what I call “My Boutique Artists”, great bands but we know we’re not gonna be selling 20 000 seat venues. We’re doing club dates but we are traveling around the world. And in the early days a band like Stick Men, each guy had a monitor wedge, each stick player had a bass amp and a guitar amp and then Pat had stereo, which is what he calls “Texas Headphones”, so they are propped up behind him. So, again, without even turning on the PA it would be 120 decibels coming off the stage. The other factor is that you’re traveling so every venue would have different gear. It was kind of a struggle… In every town you show up you have to do a two-hour setup and sound check just to get through the gear that they’re giving you. Once the Midas / Behringer system came out I kind of jumped on that. At first it was little difficult trying to convince everyone to get on in-ears just because they’re used to not being on in-ears. But as soon as we did and switched to the amp modelling, within three gigs all of them were just like “We’re never doing another gig without the system”. Because just for their hearing alone it’s not blowing my head off and they have complete control of what they want to hear. So, we rehearse in Woodstock, show up in South America or Japan and it’s exactly the same setup that you have – anywhere in the world.

Q) What is your experience with the latency and overall stability with Gig Performer?

A) Gig Performer is very stable, I didn’t lose any show. It’s nothing discernable to me, but I have it on the lowest latency setting if possible.

Q) What are some of the main plugins you use with Gig Performer for FOH?

A) I have a vast array of plugs. But mostly use the norm. Lexicon, TC, Waves and Eventide. But have been extremely excited by Liquid Sonics Reverberate, Valhalla and other.

Robert Frazza's MacBook Air with Valhalla Supermassive reverb plugin

Q) How long were you using the iPad as your controller? We know that when you do FoH, you’re not behind a console; people can find you sitting next to them.

A) That’s also another benefit from these systems. The system stays on the stage, usually next to the drummer which allows me to hopefully sit right in the middle of the venue, actually between the speakers. Historically, consoles were always kind of put out of the way, off to a corner or whatever. Venues want to sell the seats, so with a console in the middle of the room, they’re like “That’s 20 seats I can’t sell. Stick this console in the corner”. I’ve done shows where the console is actually in another room. So, yeah, this is a benefit where you can actually get in the room in between the speakers and hear what the audience is hearing.

Robert Frazza iPad FoH control

First couple of gigs with the iPad was a little shaky after standing behind faders for so many years, but I really wanted to get into the middle of the room. I’ve been using the iPad at least 5 years, so now it’s weird if I’m standing behind a console.

Q) Does Gig Performer encompass all of the features you need? Do you have any feature request?

A) I’d like to name the recorded channels. Right now it’s just input 1, input 2, and so on. If I could actually beforehand label them say kick, snare, whatever, that would be the only thing I’m looking for.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this interview. Visit this Gig Performer in Action thread to learn more about Robert Frazza and see photos of his setup.

Share this article it to support Gig Performer and spread the word! 🙂

Own The Stage® with Gig Performer®

The Gig Performer Team



Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.

 

MIDI File Player Plugin


You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.

 

Favorites and Presets


Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.

 

Probabilistic Sound Designer


Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.

 

More Widgets


Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.

 

MIDI Message Helper


Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type

 

  

Layout management


Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.

 

Undo Support


If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design

 

Plugin Channel Count


Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.

 

Input muting and output fading


Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.

 

Faster Plugin Finder


Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.

 

  

Touch Friendly Input


Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.

 

New Tuner Display


The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.

 

GP Script Enhancements


GP Script adds new language improvements such as multiple initialization sections, initialization with declarations and enhanced callbacks. The WidgetValueChanged callback now supports multiple widgets. Sysex messages are now built-in with numerous supporting functions. String array handling is much faster. Integer bit manipulation is now built-in. A new global GigScript allows incoming MIDI messages to be modified and redirected on the fly. It also allows you to define keyboard macros for your computer keyboard to control Gig Performer itself. For complete information, please review the GP Script Language Manual available through the Help menu.

 

Scriptlets


Scriptlets make creating custom MIDI processors easy. You don't have to be a programmer to use them - you can just download scriptlets from our ever-growing collection on our website and drop them right into your rackspaces to use them. Use scriptlets for simple operations such as turning your single notes into chords, modifying, duplicating or converting one kind of message into another, automatic chord latching (AutoSustain), threshold detection, sysex manipulation... imagination is the limit.

 

Other Improvements


  • System Actions plugin
  • MIDI Out to OSC converter
  • Comment plugin
  • New GUI dialog to define MIDI events to send on song part change
  • MIDI Out blocks can automatically send multiple MIDI events
  • Open/close a plugin editor from a widget
  • Choose default startup view
  • Quick find for plugin parameters
  • Large collection of startup hints
  • OSC Patchbay mode
  • Plugins now default to stereo I/O
  • Dragging presets into the wiring view will automatically create the required plugin
  • Numerous other minor (but nice) usability and workflow enhancements

Numerous other enhancements and optimizations serve to make Gig Performer 4 a superb platform for performing artists.

 

Songs and Setlists


You can organize your rackspaces into songs and your songs into setlists and then just select the setlist you need for a show. Then simply cycle down through the parts, or use your control surface or a MIDI Guitar pedal controller to select individual parts directly.

 

Predictive Loading


Predictive Loading™ is an advanced feature that reduces your RAM and CPU resources by only loading rackspaces (or songs) as needed.

 

 

The Global Rackspace


The Global Rackspace can receive audio from whatever rackspace is currently active. Instead of inserting effects in every rackspace, simply insert them once in the Global Rackspace and all your local rackspaces will have access to them. The Global Rackspace can also send audio to the currently active rackspace. So you can insert a looper that receives audio directly from your guitar (say) and then send the looped audio to different effects in different rackspaces. If a particular instrument such as a piano or organ is needed everywhere (or almost everywhere), put it in the Global Rackspace.

 

   

Zoomable Wiring View


Gig Performer 4 provides a virtual view allowing you to spread out your blocks and connections to make them easier to see and manage, even if you have a very small screen. You can zoom in or out and you can use the Auto-Fit option to position your blocks to fit in the available space.

 

 

What's new in Gig Performer 4.5


  1. Record what you play, complete with all effects - multiple channels of mono or stereo wave files
  2. The Follow Hardware feature lets widgets update automatically to match your controller values when you switch rackspaces
  3. Plugin blocks can now be easily dragged to insert them between other plugin blocks
  4. Widgets can be hidden when not in edit mode.
  5. Widgets support various CC relative modes
  6. The MIDI Thru option lets widgets respond to messages while allowing them to pass through to plugin blocks
  7. The Global MIDI Monitor now displays outgoing MIDI messages
  8. Audio options can now be exported and reimported to make it easier to support multiple audio configurations
  9. OSC now supports named targets
  10. Song Part OC assignments can now be globally changed and applied
  11. GP Script has a new Timeline callback, a MIDI connect/disconnect callback and many new system functions
  12. New parameters in the System Actions plugin now provides even more global control of Gig Performer

Click here to see the complete list of release notes for Gig Performer 4.5