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Mix Live Blog: Inside The Eastern in Atlanta

Our ever-traveling blogger/FOH engineer Steve La Cerra sets up inside Atlanta's The Eastern, and likes what he finds.

A view of the stage from monitor world.
A view of the stage from monitor world.

Atlanta, GA (March 29, 2024)—Situated in the historic neighborhood of Reynoldstown, The Eastern is a 2,300-cap venue with a multi-tiered floor plan. A joint, ground-up project between promoters Zero Mile Presents and AEG Presents, the $17 million venue opened in September 2021 as part of the revitalization of the Atlanta Dairies region two miles southeast of downtown, an area that hosted a dairy co-op from 1945 until the early 2000s. Last week marked the first time I worked a show there.

The Eastern features an open floor plan, with general admission on the main floor (save for a seated VIP area on house left) and a U-shaped balcony that can be seated or open. Sightlines are excellent from anywhere in the venue, and though it looks like it has a “warehouse rock club” vibe, it feels much more intimate—especially when it’s packed with fans.

The house right main P.A. hang at The Eastern.
The house right main P.A. hang at The Eastern.

Design and integration of sound and lights was handled by Music Matters Productions, and I’m happy to say that the P.A. install is first-rate.

Consoles at FOH and monitors are Avid S6L-24 desks loaded with SRO-192 analog output and SRI-192 input cards, as well as Waves SoundGrid expansion cards and Waves SGRCK SoundGrid rack units.

The main P.A. hang is L-Acoustics, featuring eight K2, three KARA II and four KS28 subs per side. Upper-balcony outfill is handled with four L-Acoustics A15i, while front-fill and under-balcony fills are X8s (15 total). The monitor complement includes X15 HiQ (12), SB18 (2) and SB18PLA (2), powered via L-Acoustics LA12x amplification. The mic locker is well-stocked with the usual suspects from Shure and Sennhesier, as well as Radial DIs.

Equally important is the fact that The Eastern is treated with approximately 3,000 square feet of high-end acoustic wall treatments and acoustical spray foam throughout the room, making for a fairly consistent mix throughout the room.

A view from stage right.
A view from stage right.

Bottom end in the balcony is a bit light compared to what you hear on the floor, and if you’re bumping in the bottom at the mix position, your mix will be good on the floor (the balcony just barely overhangs the mix position). There’s a room resonance around 180 Hz that has been addressed at the systems level, and be aware that the midrange will tighten up with a full room, as opposed to what you’ll hear during sound check. I found that the room sounded quite a bit different at show time—the midrange tightened up, and the P.A. seemed to sound bigger with bodies in the house—so resist the temptation to over-EQ the midrange during sound check. The front fill has plenty of horsepower, so I dialed back my front-fill matrix by about 5 dB.

It’s worth noting that the lighting rig is equally comprehensive. There are up-, mid- and down-stage trusses loaded with an assortment of Martin Mac ERA 800 Profile, Martin Mac Aura PXL, Elation Protron 3K Color Strobe and Robe PATT 2017 fixtures. The lighting console is a grandMA3 compact XT from MA Lighting.

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One thing I like about working new venues is that the artist and crew accommodations are generally up-to-date—as opposed to the small and sometimes antiquated facilities we encounter in vaudeville-era theaters. The Eastern has plenty of space backstage, with a touring production office adjacent to the house production office, both of which are down the hall from the three dressing rooms and a lounge that features a kitchenette. Bus and semi parking is right next to the building across from the artist entrance, and shore power is available.

Of course, the one thing that pulls all of this together is the house crew, which is top-notch; they made every effort to make us feel at home, and we had an easy day. One thing to beware of: Traffic in the area can get bogged down, especially during rush hour, so allow double the time suggested by map apps to get from a downtown hotel to the venue.