Live Sound

All Access: Kid Rock 'Best Night Ever' Tour

Kid Rock, who made quite a splash at the start of his 2013 Best Night Ever Tour by working out a deal with ticketing agencies that guaranteed $20 tickets for regular fans, played at the Sleep Train A 9/01/2013 5:00 AM Eastern

Kid Rock, who made quite a splash at the start of his 2013 Best Night Ever Tour by working out a deal with ticketing agencies that guaranteed $20 tickets for regular fans, played at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Wheatland, Calif., in early August.

“I’m mixing FOH on an Avid Venue D-Show Profile console, and it has served me well these past five years,” says front-of-house engineer Steve Cross, center, with Vic Wagner (AudioTech/Sound Image) at left and John “Haircut” Tompkins (Systems Engineer/Sound Image) at right. “Some plug-ins I make good use of are the Crane Song Phoenix and one or two of the Waves plug-ins. I try to keep it minimal and only use processing where necessary. We have a lot of inputs, around 85, and the Profile makes it easy to manage them all efficiently. I am a big fan of mixing the music, not the technology, so the simpler the better for me. We have a totally digital chain on this tour. Once the inputs hit the stage racks, we are digital all the way into the amp racks. We did some A/B comparisons at rehearsals of driving AES versus analog outputs; [there was a] pretty significant difference.

“With 12 people packed into a small performance area, I spend a lot of time trying to get separation on everything, keeping things clean,” Cross explains. “But the percussion is a different animal. Last year I started experimenting with opening up the gates on all the percussion. They were never gated very tightly to begin with, but once I opened them up and made some mic placement and EQ changes, it all came to life. Now when percussionist Larry Fratangelo makes any subtle sound effects, they pop right through. Many times he will just have a shaker or something in his hands and not be near any mic, really. I hear all of that now and without all the guitar and drum bleed. It's a really positive thing for the whole mix, a lot of fun to capture all that stuff."

photo of Kid Rock FOH crew

FOH engineer Steve Cross, center, with Vic Wagner (AudioTech/Sound Image) at left and John “Haircut” Tompkins (Systems Engineer/Sound Image) at right

photo of Kid Rock monitor engineers

Monitor engineer Beau Alexander, pictured at right withJim “Fish” Miller, monitor tech

“I’m mixing 11 band members plus Kid Rock on an Avid Venue D-Show Profile console, without any plug-ins,” says monitor engineer Beau Alexander, pictured at right with Jim “Fish” Miller, monitor tech. “Fortunately, they like to hear exactly what they are producing without any sugarcoating. I am currently around 85 inputs and 27 outputs. The Avid only has 16 auxes and eight groups, so I have to route some things to matrix to make it work for everyone. Some of the band and Kid Rock are using in-ears and wedges, which is the reason for high output count.

“I am carrying 14 channels of Shure UR4D wireless—eight for wireless handhelds, two for a wireless piano, one for sax and one we are using to mike up a Harley motorcycle wirelessly. That leaves two spare channels for anything that may come up. I am also carrying six Shure 900 IEM units for the band and two 1000 IEM units for Kid Rock. We use Shure Beta 58A wireless mics and Ultimate Ears UE 18s.

photo of L-Acoustics P.A. rig

L-Acoustics P.A. rig

“For this tour, we have a main L-Acoustics rig,” says John “Haircut” Tompkins of Sound Image. “We are hanging 12 K1s with three KARAs per side, 12 K1SBs right next to it offstage, and eight KUDOs per side for a side hang. Fills change [from] venue to venue, but usually we have two KARAs on top of one or two SB28s in front of the thrust. Sidefills for Bob [Kid Rock] are one JBL 4889 on top of two JBL 4880s, per side. This is one of the best—if not the best—audio crew I’ve been part of. Both engineers work hard alongside of us for the ins and outs. They, and my two Sound Image crewmates, carry more than usual workload helping me out after I was hurt in an accident last year. It’s amazing the amount of work a crew full of capable friends can do.”