The Art of Sound at Metro Gallery, Baltimore

Turning our Art of Sound attention to Baltimore for the first time, Charlie Hughes runs sound at Metro Gallery...

Music Connection: How long have you been running sound? How did you get into it?

Charlie Hughes: Around 20 years. When I was younger I was attending a show for one of my favorite bands, Echo & the Bunnymen at The Black Cat in Washington, DC. I distinctly remember watching the stage crews during the changeover and thinking to myself, “I’d enjoy doing that for a living”. Around 10 years later, not only was I doing that for a living, but I eventually became the lead engineer at the very same venue.

How did you get hooked up with Metro Gallery?

I had been freelancing at many venues in Baltimore, MD and DC. Metro always stood out as a favorite of mine and I would occasionally check in to see if they needed help. Eventually my old roommate Miriam, who is a Metro bartender, told me they might have an opening so I reached out and the rest was history.

Any particular highlights? Which bands have been the best to work with?

Despite being a relatively smaller venue, I’ve left gigs at bigger places for Metro. I’ve worked with the main part of the staff for over 10 years which I feel is a testament to the quality of the venue. Long time and newer staff are all great friends and we’ll frequently go out together after shows. We get such a wide variety of acts including all kinds of music, drag, dance parties and miscellaneous events. Baltimore is full of a lot of musicians that have shot to international status that will come play or visit frequently. We are also in a sweet spot for bands that are just starting to break and we will be their jumping off point to international success. Some highlights for me in that regard are having Fontaines DC, Orville Peck and Vision Video more recently.

How would you describe the acoustics/layout at Metro?

Overall, it’s a very nice spot. Great view points throughout the room in front of the stage with a side area to hang out and take a breather away from the action for a bit. Like any concrete building it’s a bit reflective and can easily get quite loud especially when empty. As long as the stage volume is kept under control it sounds fantastic. I’ll very frequently get bands saying we’ve been the best on their tour.

What gear do you use?

We’re running a powered QSC rig with 15” mains and 3 “18 700W subs. With the small/mid club standard Midas M32 board. A modest setup that works just right for the room. One of the most common comments a visiting engineer will make at the end of the night is regarding how surprised they were about the kind of mix they could accomplish with our setup. 

For more info, visit metrobmore.com.