Concert Audio and Alison Young

I’ve long thought (I’m aware this will make me sound like a young fogey) that most concerts are way too loud. This is why I tend to avoid them - I’ve seen both the rock music of the Foo Fighters and the delicacy and dynamic range of Sigur Rós spoilt on stage. The only times I tend to attend gigs are when the venue is small and the artist is unknown to me (which helps built the sense of atmosphere and overcome the poorer sound quality). There’s a long discussion on Edward Tufte’s website about the technical aspects of this over-amplification issue.

Because of this, I was blown away when I saw Alison Young performing at the euroGel conference I recently attended. Not only was the sound mix delicate and well-balanced, but Alison is a superb singer who’s become my new favourite artist. She obviously has country and southern influences, but what I’ve heard from her so far has been both emotionally powerful and whimsical. You can download three of her songs as MP3s from her website: she also has plans to record an album, so you can sign up for the mailing list to find out about that if you like what you hear. Highly recommended.

Update 2006-09-14: Alison has just emailed me to say that’s she going into the studio next week to record some more material for her album. I can’t wait to hear it…


Ian, thanks for your comment. Actually, I think it's both: you're probably right that the distortion does occur, and does hurt the sound. But the loud volume is genuinely painful and unpleasant also.
It's not the sound pressure level more the distortion created through the audio chain in most all sound reinforcement.
[...] Via Andrew Ferrier. [...]
I should probably have added that I also find loud volumes actually quite uncomfortable: so it's not just the damage to the sound quality, it's also the damage to my experience: which is why I'm not keen on paying for it :)
One friend of mine has worn ear plugs to every concert we've attended (incl. wearing earplugs for most of 2 days of the V festival we attended last month!). You're right (if slightly fogey-ish) that the volume is just way too loud :-(