Live set from last night

I played last night at PS One Close House in Iowa City.

A plus of making complete tracks in Rack: you can an existing patch and tweak it to make it work live. You’re not recreating it, you’re reperforming it, and you can adapt to how it hits the room.

Downside: you can’t seamlessly mix between patches. I tried think of a way, like having multiple instances of Rack in Ableton Live but that seemed kludgey. So I just stop and load a new patch. Hey rock bands stop and start, right?


Do you use your mouse for performance or do you have everything mapped to midi-controllers, or both?

I had a MIDI controller with me, but like a dummy I didn’t plug it in before loading patches in Rack and it reset the controller, and in the heat of playing I didn’t fix the MIDI-CV modules to use it.

So it was a pure mouse operation. I do want to figure out a fully MIDI automated setup so I don’t have to squint at my laptop screen to do things.

Even so, if you have good patches, you can do it all with mouse control. The main thing would be to keep all controls in an area of the patch that fits on the laptop screen with significant enlargement so I don’t have to get my face right in the screen to click on the right thing.

All-mouse sets would be good from the standpoint of making the setup simpler. I would have liked to have my controller working, particularly for live sampling, for exactly this reason. To trigger Confusing Simpler’s I either have to zoom in or squint to hit the record button at the right moment.

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Nice work. Fair play to anyone doing a live set with VCV and a laptop, I’d be terrified!


You just need to pick the patches you’re planning to play (and maybe a couple of alternates) and rehearse playing a set. Rack itself is pretty stable for me on Windows. I’ve had patches crash while I’m hacking on them but not when performing with them (i.e. knob tweaks, mutes, sequence changes).

You can always just record some sound and play it on another media player between patches. Rock bands do this, too


I’d be too. I come from a rock/punk band background and the idea of a laptop being a „must-work-to-keep-the-show-running“ item on stage has always been frightening. Maybe it’s because in my late teens / early twenties this was one of the single most expensive things I owned. But so was my orange tube amplifier, which I trusted but that one actually gave out on me once during a headline show (nightmare).

So a 10+ years ago I tried playing a gig (mellow place, not a club show) with guitar rig running on a MacBook Pro and a midi controller for switching patches. Not a single hickup, but I was nervous for sure. Then came a time around 2018 when I realized laptops have been running as the operating system for playback, midi switching, monitor mix, lighting, video wall and so on and have been a great tool for running more creative / complex shows on a budget. So I really don’t know why there are still doubts on performance / or stability.

Anyway, I am rambling. Point is: have an emergency plan b to feed intermission audio in case of a forced restart, or even redundancy if that’s affordable to you.

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