Each year, the city of Memphis hosts its annual Memphis in May International Festival, which comprises the Beale Street Music Festival, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and the Sunset Symphony. This year’s rock portion of the festival took place May 4 to 6, 2007—spread across 33 acres overlooking the Mississippi River, on the heels of historic Beale Street. With more than 45 national acts occupying three large stages, this year’s audience was treated to a diverse range of performers from Steely Dan to Corinne Bailey Rae, and for the center stage, performers were backed by loudspeaker systems from D.A.S. Audio’s Aero and Compact lines.
Smyrna, Tenn.-based Allstar Audio Systems (see July 2006 Mix) has been the audio contractor for all but two of the past 18 years of the festival. Each stage was placed approximately half-mile apart, with the south stage facing north, the center stage facing slightly northeast and the northern-most stage facing south. For the center stage, which saw performances by Godsmack and John Legend, as well as the Allman Brothers Band with Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes, Allstar Audio erected a massive D.A.S. Audio system.
On each side of the stage, Allstar Audio flew 10 D.A.S. Aero 38A self- powered, two-way medium-format line array modules with an additional four Aero 28A self-powered, two-way compact line array modules hung beneath the Aero 38As. Filling in the bottom end, each cluster was supported by an additional seven D.A.S. Compact 218 2K subwoofers aligned vertically beneath the flown rig. According to Tony “Coop” Cooper, Allstar Audio’s crew chief, “The entire system was self-powered, with the top Aero 38As flown 20 feet above the stage and the Aero 28As beneath serving as the near-field enclosures.”
“With a total of 42 enclosures on this stage alone,” Cooper continues, “the fact that the D.A.S. Audio system was self-powered played an important role in this project. The system cabling was considerably easier and cleaner than one typically encounters with non-powered systems, and the entire rig was much easier in terms of our truck pack since we didn’t have to double up on loudspeakers and power amp equipment racks.
“On Thursday, May 3rd, we had hung the system, powered up and were ready to go just as a horrific storm blew in,” he continues. “The rain was falling with such force that it was practically horizontal, and at this point the overhead cover had not yet been installed by the staging company, so the speakers took the full force of the storm. Much to our surprise, when the weather cleared and we were able to get back to work, we encountered no issues with the equipment once we powered it back up. You can always cover amp racks, but when you have 14 self-powered cabinets per side in the air, there’s little you can do if something goes wrong. Not only did everything work as we had hoped, once we got the boxes back to the shop, we checked everything and found no damage whatsoever.”
According to Mike Borne, president of Allstar Audio Systems, “For years, we’ve exclusively used equipment from a competing manufacturer, and the time had finally come when we were ready to move toward line array technology and wanted to invest in a self-powered setup. A trusted associated suggested I look into D.A.S. Audio, so I found them at the recent NSCA show in Orlando. There, I got a static look at their equipment and made arrangements to use a demo rig on a forthcoming project in Chattanooga [Tenn.]. To cut to the chase, I liked what I heard. The system was extremely musical, very portable and the fact that it was self-powered made the entire project easier than what we were accustomed to. Between this and the extremely responsive support from the company’s representatives, I was impressed and decided to move forward with D.A.S. equipment for the Beale Street Music Festival.”