6.7 Techniques for stealth recording live shows
There are a lot of people that aspire to tape/record upcoming concerts. The
problem of course is that you're not sure how to approach it. Right? Well here
it is: a how-to of taping.
Most of the information presented here is from a discussion that occurred on
ams-p in June of 2000, with bits an pieces thrown in on an ad hoc basis. Here
are some of the answers that you may seek:
1) How do you get the deck into the venue?
Between the legs. That's the only place they -definitely- won't pat you down,
unless you make some custom props (tall shoes, etc.). Some venues won't let
you bring in bags, some venues won't even let you have a chain on your wallet
or a ball-point pen. But for the most part, tapers agree that by using this
method it is unlikely that you'll get caught. Even with an ultimate frisk
(arms, legs, back, front (they occasionally even check cleavage in the girls'
line)), or the "take -everything- out of your pockets" pat-downs, the hide-in-
the-crotch technique works great.
2) How do I stuff the deck and accessories down my pants without it all falling
The secret? Get 2 pairs of boxer briefs (which you put over your normal
everyday underwear, unless it's just for one show & you have a chance to wash
them), & either sew or safety-pin them together around the legs well enough so
that nothing slips through. Coil up the mics, bundle them next to the battery
box, stick it all on top of your deck, & shove it all right down there,
underneath "everything", between the two layers of boxers. Do -not- shove it
right in front, make sure its right between your legs. If you shove it in the
front, there is a large risk of getting caught. With the deck between the legs,
even if they go for the completely thorough pat-up-the-legs, it'll be high
enough that they'll stop before hitting the equipment (your own, and the
machinery). They won't hit anything patting around the front pockets, and if
they've got metal detector wands, it won't get close enough to the machinery to
make a sound unless they stick the wand -right- between your legs, in which
case you're probably screwed anyway.
3) I got caught before I got in! What now?
Don't panic. Despite what the door attendants may tell you, they have -no legal
right- to take away your equipment. They'll probably try to scare you and make
you give it up, but stand your ground and just quietly walk back to your car,
or far enough away so that you can 'adjust' without drawing suspicion, & put
everything somewhere else where they're -not- checking. If you're going to try
to get in again, make sure you pick a different lineup: you don't want the same
attendant frisking you again! If however you're worried about getting caught
again and not being allowed into the venue, then just put the equipment in the -
trunk- of your car. Don't want to get it stolen do we?
4) Can the bouncers/venue legally take my equipment away from me?
No! No matter what, no one is allowed to confiscate your equipment. If you get
caught before getting into the venue (see #3) then just put the equipment back
in your car and enjoy the show. If however, you get caught inside taping, it is
best to give the bouncer the tape if they ask for it and to quietly continue
watching the show without making a fuss; no point losing your tape -and-
getting kicked out. They may kick you out anyway, but that is their prerogative.
3) Ok. I'm in the show, but now what?
Obviously we've got to set up the equipment before we can record. (Special
note: recording with the mics wound up and placed in the crotch area will not
produce high quality results :-) The best place to go is to a bathroom stall
and pull it all out and set it up (see the next sections for placement etc).
4) Where do I put the mics?
Waist-level is a bad idea- theoretically, you should place them as high as
possible. You want to get the mics above the crowd so that the people that are
behind and beside you won't scream directly into the mics. Here are the methods
in order of preference and quality of recording (A is best):
Option A: On a pair of glasses
If you've got long enough hair, one of the best things to do is clip them to
the arms of your glasses, right over your ears, & let your hair cover them
completely from view. If you don't wear glasses, go to the local eye-shop and
get a pair of safety glasses that look like normal glasses (ie: don't get a
pair that -obviously- don't look like normal glasses). All that should be
visible are the wires going down the back of your neck, which will just look
like a string to keep your glasses from falling. With a collared shirt (or
longer hair), you won't even be able to see them at all.
Option B: On a baseball cap/hat
Clip the mics to the sides of your cap, near the ears. While this one is likely
to produce recording just as nice as Option 1, it is more likely that you will
get caught since the mice are clearly visible on the outside of the cap. A
general note with the use of this technique is that it has been rumored that
some venues -look- for people with hats. So tread lightly when using this
method and stay out of the bouncers' way.
Option C: On the collar of your collared shirt
Clip the mics on the collar of your shirt. You'd likely want to have one on
each side of your neck. This technique is frowned upon by many tapers because
the sound tends to be slightly muffled at that level and it is quite likely
that people will scream right into the mics. If you are close to the speaker
stacks, however, this technique might work nicely if you point the mics
directly at them.
4)The mics are in place, but I feel very uncomfortable and I probably look like
I'm guilty just standing there. What do I do?
Easier said than done, but just try to look 'natural', bob your head a bit so
you're not just standing there like a stiff, & enjoy the show. You don't want
to be jumping around like a maniac because you mics will catch every bounce,
but you don't want to stand there motionless because that -is- suspicious.
5) The tape is almost run out and/or I need to adjust the input levels. What do
The best thing to do is to -practice- taking out and reinserting the
tape/DAT/minidisk before you go to the venue. Many people have been caught
because they make it obvious that they're changing the tape or adjusting the
levels. The idea is that you don't want to look down to your feet. Do
everything while continuing to look forward and acting 'normal'. Keep your
tapes in you pocket readily available and easily accessible.
One of the most important tips is to monitor how much time you have until the
end of the tape. Use a watch. If you know that there is 60 minutes of recording
time on a tape (I'm talking DAT here, in particular) and the band is finishing
up a song at 55 minutes, change the tape -before- they start the next song.
- In general, the more spacing between the mics, the better the stereo
recording (as opposed to mono that is).
- Avoid adjusting the position of the mics during the show. You -will- hear it
n the tape afterwards, and as many traders know, this can be really annoying.
- If you have someone else with you, have them keep watch for security when you
need to check the input levels on the deck, & use them as a human buffer from
the loud & obnoxious people you'll invariably end up next to, as you try to
move away from them.
- Do not talk while you are recording. Your voice will be registered on the
recording before anything else.
If you have any other tips, suggestions or experiences about stealth taping
that you'd like to share, and that you think might be a benefit to other tapers
please send it to me at email@example.com