View Full Version : Powerbooks on stage

Feb 20, 2004, 08:10 PM
Not sure if this is the right forum or if it has been posted before, feel free to punish me if so.

Anyway, long before the days of garageband I used to see bands on stage, usually the dance type ones with a Powerbook stacked on top of their keyboards.

I'd like to know what they used them for, i.e what software package allowed them to play their music and samples live on stage. Or are they just there for show? I only thought of it when I saw Duran Duran with one at the Brits but I've seen them out and about for a good while.


Feb 20, 2004, 10:27 PM
I saw Seal give a concert on TV once... his keyboardist was peeking out over the top of a 23" cinema display sitting in front of his keyboard.

I'm not sure what they'd be using... but there is a lot to choose from. :D Logic, Reason, ProTools....

Who knows? (Not rhetorical)

Feb 21, 2004, 12:26 AM
Venus Hum use them. They unplug them and carry them off stage at the end of the concert, which I thought was neat. I've read what software they use but forgot--it's on their website.

Feb 23, 2004, 09:35 AM
apparently they get the question a lot:


Feb 24, 2004, 12:39 PM
I guess that some use it for virtual/VST instruments

others for sequencing with logic

and yet others for deejaying via Traktor

oh, I forgot live animations


Feb 25, 2004, 12:57 AM
I saw an electronica Dj in Seattle at bummbershoot (sp) but anyway he was mixing live on a mac! -n

Feb 26, 2004, 04:24 AM
I'd say most likely virtual instruments and sample players, since running a full-blown sequencer in a live concert setting might be a bit dodgy (and would involve all kinds of complicated and time-consuming switching of active documents, whereas instruments or samplers could be played and managed via a MIDI controller). Doubtful that it would be used for any kind of effects processing since for most functions, hardware would almost certainly be preferable, especially live, but I suppose it's possible... maybe they use the Mac to synch up the lighting, lasers, pyrotechnics, and video with the music, while talking on ICQ and posting on forums? (Running Folding@home and serving their website the whole time, of course) ;)

Mike Teezie
Feb 27, 2004, 08:48 PM
I've seen Radiohead and Bjork running Macs live.

Feb 28, 2004, 09:58 AM
I've seen Wilco (http://wilcoworld.net/) use Powerbooks for some of their loops and noise.

Feb 29, 2004, 02:10 PM
i think they are using a product called max/msp, available at http://www.cycling74.com. it's used by a lot of experimental people for live laptop stuff -- you basically build your own instruments and create whatever kind of live sound processing patch you want.

other people who use it, if anyone is experimentally inclined (most have releases available on the mego label at www.mego.at)


for OS X people there's an interesting application called supercollider which basically runs a client-server architecture in which you code your instruments using the SC programming language, based on smalltalk. i think that's available at sourceforge IIRC. and it's free! so is PD, a max/msp-like open source package (in fact max/msp is built open parts of PD).


Mar 1, 2004, 03:13 PM
I do a techno live act at clubs , parties, raves, etc.
running 2 powerbooks. 1 867mhz G4 12" and 1 400mhz G4 15"

on the 867mhz, i run Ableton Live 3.0 and multiple VST effects, i put this on the 12" because A) Ableton doesnt have an extremely graphical interface so it looks okay on the 12", and B) Ableton isn't yet optimized for Altivec (weak!) so i have to run it on the fastest machine.

and i run PropellerHeads Reason 2.5 on the 400mhz, because A) It DOES have an extremely graphical interface so the larger screen helps alot, and B) Reason IS optimized for the G4's Altivec so its okay to run on the weaker machine, and free up the 12" for Ableton. In reason i am running FX and lots of ReCycled REX sounds and some realtime synth work.

synced through Midi with an Edirol UM-1 usb midi interface, and both Mac's are controlled with the Evolution UC-33 Midi controller (33 knobs and sliders)

not a very good indicator of the use of Macs onstage, but this short VIDEO** (http://www.technofans.de/images/review/292/videos/189_8994.AVI) clip was from the last "live act" i did. It was in Bremen, Germany a few weekends ago.

and here's a more detailed picture from my little home 'live preparation setup' to give you more of an idea.. http://www.subterror.com/azurerecords/Mac-Centric.jpg , i obviously don't lug the 17" CRT to europe

Mar 1, 2004, 03:15 PM
oh yea and one side note... the visuals on the screen behind the stage in that video were ran by a couple local guys in Bremen. on Two 500mhz Titanium Powerbooks =)