Get Yourself Some In-Ears, Drummers
Heading into the Mike Mills gig, I got some Shure In-Ear Monitors, knowing that a big wedge that would allow me to hear the rest of the band would be a real deal-breaker for playing on stage with a string orchestra. I got a set of Shure SE 535s and I drive them with a P9HW wired body pack. It worked great in Toronto. Currently, I'm using the big, squishy black foam tips that come with the SE 535s, but I have molds for custom inserts on file with the audiologist and I'm thinking about ordering some fitted inserts. The black foam tips provide what seems to be about 23-30 dB of attenuation (a purely subjective guess), which is good for getting things down out of the pain-zone.
Over the weekend, Five Eight played two shows: Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta and the Mainstage at AthFest. Both shows had powered wedges for the drum riser, so I was able to simply disconnect the top wedge's XLR cable and go into my wired pack, then talk to the monitor engineer about my mix. These were my first rock gigs using In-Ear Monitors. Here's what I realized: It's much easier to control tempos and to navigate the gig if I can turn the volume in my ears up and down as I need to. The P9HW body pack has an independent volume knob and with the sound attenuation of the foam tips, I am not overwhelmed by the drum sound or the stage volume of the guitars, and I generally have a less stressful, more sane gig. Now I'm an In-Ear evangelist. I don't know why I waited so long to get some.
I'm thinking of getting a Tama Rhythm Watch for gigs that require a click and using a small 4-channel mixer to put it in the Ears. That'll give me the perfect package: All pocket, no panic.