Shock the MonkeyJul 22nd, 2010 | By Mike Sokol | Category: Musician Safety
Please help us find out just how serious stage shocks are by filling out this survey:
By now many of you have seen the CSI episode a few months ago called “Unshockable”, which featured the country band Rascal Flatts. Now, I normally don’t watch CSI, but seeing the trailers earlier in the week for this episode sure got my curiosity up. So I emailed all my electrical engineering buddies to watch the show and we compared notes.
And sure enough, it was bad. Way bad in fact. So filled with misconceptions and flat-out exaggerations about how people get shocked and electrocuted, that their bass player Jay Demarcus should do a PSA explaining what getting shocked on stage is really like. In the CSI story, Jay gets shocked and knocked out when he touches his guitar and microphone at the some time. This dasterdly deed was done by an aging guitar tech who wanted a chance to play bass onstage so he could get lucky with the ladies. What a plot line!
But the real craziness was the artistic license the director took to “show” the shock. There literally were blue sparks coming out from around Jay’s lips, sort of a halo of electricity. He then looses his memory, and can’t remember the other guys in the band. But perhaps the worse of all possible side effects is that he starts hating country music, and switches to rap. No kidding. If I would have know that rapping was a side effect of being shocked, perhaps that could have stopped some of the horrible country bands who played in our local clubs….
During the investigative part of the drama with all the forensic scientists looking for a cause of the “accident” they explain and show how the guitar strings had burned flesh embedded from the “electrocution”. Plus we get to see an XLR cable with a big arc mark down the side of the barrel where “the voltage arc jumped across”. Then the real “shocker” came with the explanation that Jay’s brain damage that resulted in amnesia couldn’t have been from “only” 120 volts. They postulated that it was juiced up to 240 volts. Gimme a break. The only way you get that sort of amnesia is electroshock therapy where your brain is zapped by electrodes in a medical procedure. But I suppose the writers were looking for a story line.
Let me clue you in about getting shocked on stage. There’s no blue lightning bolts around your lips, no singed flesh on the guitar strings, and there’s certainly no arc marks down the side of the XLR connectors. Nope… None of that. You jerk around a bit then simply fall over and pass out when your heart goes into fibrillation or stops beating and your buddies are telling you to stop kidding around. If someone’s smart enough to start CPR immediately and call 911, then you have a chance of living. If not, then you’re dead.
That’s the problem with getting shocked on stage. So many of us have been shocked from a guitar or mic that we don’t think it’s any big deal. And notice I said “shocked” and not “electrocuted”. Electrocution is what happens when you die from being shocked. So you can’t have been electrocuted and reading this blog. Yes, plenty of you have been shocked, as I have been dozens of times on stage. So we’re going to start an ongoing survey. Please comment and tell us if you’ve ever been shocked on stage by your guitar, microphone, mixing board, or whatever and how it happened. Hopefully you won’t ever be shocked like the guys in Rascal Flatts as there’s way too much bad rap perpetrated by white guys already.
And Rascal Flatts, if any of you guys are reading this, please contact us about doing a PSA to set the record straight about getting shocked on stage. Seriously…