Famous Door, New Orleans. WTF is with the Popemobile drum set?

I spent the the last 5 days down in New Orleans for New Years Eve holiday.

At the Famous Door the drum location has an odd Plexiglas wall around it. It’s a permanent fixture so it’s there regardless of who’s playing. Here is a video of the place with the clear wall I’m speaking of.

One of the employees said it had something to do with acoustics, but I call bullshit:dubious:. I’ve been to bars and clubs all over the U.S. and the world and never have seen such a thing that I can remember.

I keep thinking of the chicken wire scene in the Blues Brothers. Maybe the drummers kept getting shot and needed bullet proof glass.:stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously. Any clue? I’ve never seen this set up before. Was the employee right?

I’ve seen the set-up more than a few times. A band I played in used to put up a Plexiglas cage around the drummer sometimes depending on the venue. In our case it was because “Jim (the drummer) goes up to eleven.”

Since you can’t “turn the drummer down” you sometimes have to put him in a cage.

I’ve never seen that before, ever.

It is indeed due to acoustics of the venue. It is to dampen the volume/intensity of the drums. Sometimes “prog” churches with contemporary music service will have such a setup, otherwise the elders will go from 95% hearing loss to 99.97%.

Well it can’t be all that common. I’ve been all over the place and never seen it.

Just as a recent example, I must have been in at least 3 dozen places that had bands in N.O. and Famous Door was the only one that had that. I’ve never seen it anywhere else either.

Here’s a band doing a cover of Side 2 of Abbey Road (which is kick ass, btw), and the drummer has plexiglass around him.


Check out Are Your Drums Too Loud? (which is about drum dampening in churches) and drum screen on Wikipedia for some info. I’ve always heard them called drum cages, but… same thing.

When I said I’d seen it “more than a few times” I was perhaps exaggerating a little—conflating the ones I’ve seen in recording studios and practice spaces with ones I’ve seen in venues… which is probably only about three different clubs.

I think it was just imprinted on me because, as I said, the drummer in our band used one occasionally.

Yeah, you see those drum shields around occasionally. I’ve seen them in churches mostly, but every once in a long while at a rock show, too. They’re there to help contain and control the sound of the drums.

I should say, though, they’re not usually quite as all-encompassing as I see in your video. Usually more just plexiglass in front of the drums, like in this recent Fleetwood Mac performance.

And if you really want to delve into it, and how many drummers hate it that some clubs force them to use it you can read through this thread on Drummerworld. It appears to be a topic of some lively debate.

Just going by my likely faulty memory, a lot of the TV talk shows with live bands cage the drummer. It’s nearly impossible to get a good sound mix when a singer is just squeaking out the words and the drummer is flailing away unless you can keep the drums out of the singer’s mic. They usually keep the plex scrupulously clean so it’s all but invisible other than a glint of light at the edges.

Some quick proofs…
Overhead view of Anton Fig with a piece of plex between him and Paul Shaffer.

Drummer under glass. Smitty of the Tonight Show Band.

I’ve seen it in many pics from recording studios in Rolling Stone. On a PBS show of, I think, the Tedeschi-Trucks Band, there were even knee-high insulating walls between amps.

It happens the other way, too. During a solo when the drummer isn’t playing, an amp will buzz the drum heads.

Interesting. This weekend my brother-in-law and I went to a bar to watch the playoffs. His good friend is the namesake and drummer in the band that played after the football games ended. So I showed him the video from the OP and asked him about it.

He said they are usually provided by the act itself and not a permanent fixture in the establishment like the example in the OP. He also said they’re usually just one large plexiglass plate that’s moved in and out and not a huge all enclosed room like the one at Famous Door. He also told me that while I haven’t seen them before I should get used to it because more and more venues are requiring it.

He told us he doesn’t like them and will only use it if he absolutely has to.

Ignorance fought. Thanks for the replies all.

I suppose the other solution is to convince your drummer to use an electronic kit, so they can be adjusted to an appropriate volume like everybody else in the band. But I think a lot of drummers hate those, too, and it’s probably expensive. Particularly since amplification is an issue, as a venue’s P/A may not be suitable.

I saw Alabama three times in concert. In the smaller venue, then drummer Mark Herndon used a drum screen; in the larger venues, he did not.