Coachella 2013The 13th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival took place over two weekends: from April 12-15, and April 19-22. An estimated 90,000 fans trekked to the Empire Polo Club in the Southern California
The 13th Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival took place over two weekends: from April 12-15, and April 19-22. An estimated 90,000 fans trekked to the Empire Polo Club in the Southern California desert town of Indio, Calif., to check out an assortment of rock, pop, hip-hop and electronic dance music from acts including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phoenix, Wu-Tang Clan, Vampire Weekend, Dropkick Murphys, Rodriguez, Dinosaur Jr., the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, New Order, Dead Can Dance, Janelle Monae, El-P, Bassnectar, and many more.
Rat Sound Systems of Camarillo, Calif., once again designed and supplied the audio systems for all six Coachella stages, including Avid Profile, Avid SC48, Midas Heritage 3000, Midas Venice 24F, Midas XL88, Soundcraft EPM8, Soundcraft FX-8, and Yamaha PM5D-RH consoles and mixers. The P.A. systems featured L-Acoustics dV-DOSC, K1, Kara, Kudo, and 108P, as well as SB28 subwoofers and Rat Sound Systems’ proprietary subwoofers.
Bassnectar’s production manager and front-of-house engineer Brendan Hoffman has been with the artist, also known as Lorin Ashton, for 16 months: “Rat Sound had everything set up in advance by the time I got there. The system had been time aligned and tuned, so from my end it was a matter of walking in and having a listen to what I was working with. I don’t view [mixing Bassnectar] as mixing a band. What I’m doing in fact is live mastering, and that’s quite a different mindset. The material has already been premastered [by mastering engineer Seth Drake] and sent to me, and then I’m just adjusting the tonality for the consistency that I’m looking for. [Drake and I] talk at length about the P.A.s I’m using, and I’m making the adjustments that are needed as it’s coming out of the speaker. It provides a compositional tonality to the set from beginning to end, because the set is dynamic and I want to keep those dynamics there, working at high volumes, as well.”
“Mixing a large festival like Coachella is about attention to detail,” says Dropkick Murphys FOH engineer Andrew Crow, noting that Scorpio Sound of Boston provides the band’s audio control groups and monitor package. “The only adjustments I make before the show are rerouting outputs to match what the system needs and matching the output of the desk to the input of the P.A., and making sure unity is unity and that there is nothing awkward happening between our gear and theirs. Around 33 of our 38 inputs are all ‘midrange’ instruments. The band always wants to maintain that punk rock feel with punchy drums and loud guitars, which leaves me a smaller spectrum to fit all the accessory inputs we have. I try to balance out those accessory instruments—banjo, accordion, piano, mandolin, acoustic guitars, and more—first and EQ in as much space I can per channel and get rid of any overtones or harmonics from the room or P.A. depending on the scenario we are in. Those inputs are what the fans expect to hear.”
New Order FOH engineer Dian Barton says, “I used the festival desk at FOH, which was a 48-channel [Avid] Profile going into a Midas XL88 Matrix mixer where each element of the sound can be individually controlled. I also use some outboard equipment provided by Rat Sound: a BSS 31-band graphic EQ inserted over Left and Right main outputs, an SPX 990, and a TC [Electronic] D2 Digital Delay both for vocal effects. The Profile is one of the standard desks at festivals all over the world so I have a file for it and know my way around it very well. I believe a good sound is achieved by constantly checking and adjusting EQ to get the maximum out of the P.A. The coverage all over the tent was consistent, which is important at a festival because you don’t get much chance to walk about during the performance.”