Photo: Neil Young + Promise of the Real headline BottleRock’s Saturday night show on the L-Acoustics K1/K2-equipped main JaM Cellars Stage
Home to some of North America’s finest vineyards, California’s Napa Valley has long been celebrated for its picturesque views, amazing cuisine and, of course, spectacular wine offerings. But music enthusiasts might argue that the best attraction is Napa Valley Expo’s annual BottleRock music festival, which marked its seventh anniversary this summer with a new L-Acoustics K1/K2 loudspeaker system deployed at its main stage by the festival’s primary audio and lighting vendor, Camarillo-based Delicate Productions.
Promising its 120,000 attendees “the first taste of summer” over May’s Memorial Day weekend, BottleRock was memorably referred to as “the fancy Coachella” by Bruno Mars during his headlining set there last year. But it was an appropriate nod to the festival’s upscale food and beverage choices, celebrity chef demos, on-site spa, and numerous other VIP amenities in addition to its wonderfully eclectic lineup of more than 80 top artists performing on five stages.
Delicate’s L-Acoustics system for the main JaM Cellars Stage this year featured left and right arrays each comprised of a dozen K1 topping four K2 downfills per side. The main arrays were flanked by adjacent outfill hangs of eight K2 each. A total of 32 SB28 subs were ground-stacked below, two high and four deep in an end-fire configuration, while two delay towers containing eight K2 each were positioned out in the audience area.
Frontfill was delivered by 12 Kiva II spread out across the stage lip, while three ARCS II on the far left and right sides of the stage provided outfill. Stage sidefill was accomplished by left and right stacks of three more ARCS II positioned over two SB28, and LA8-equipped LA-RAK units powered the entire system, except for the subs, which were driven by LA-RAK II loaded with LA12X amplified controllers.
Elsewhere on the festival grounds, the VIP rest area had four short throw X12 to cover the tented space, while smaller X8 were used at the Platinum entrance, Aflac activation, and in the pressroom. Additionally, pairs of Syva enclosures were deployed in the Platinum Lounge, a backstage VIP compound, and Monkey Shoulder scotch whiskey’s Porta-Party “speakeasy” pop-up that featured surprise sets from world-famous DJs, including Paul Oakenfold and Crystal Method, in an intimate 30-by-30-foot tent.
“Although we’ve had L-Acoustics gear in our inventory for the past six years—initially starting off with 24 K2 and 16 SB28—this was the first year that we had deployed L-Acoustics systems on BottleRock’s main stage and it was complete success,” shares Delicate Productions President Jason Alt. “Imagine Dragons, Neil Young, Mumford and Sons, and many others performed on the K1/K2 rig there and it sounded absolutely great.
“But the unique thing for me was hearing Vintage Trouble, who had played the festival’s main stage a few years ago, and remembering the band’s FOH engineer struggling a bit on the former PA. This year, he dialed up a great mix in a very short period of time with no sound check, which goes to show that L-Acoustics really makes a much more musical sounding system than what we had previously deployed there.”
Although the main stage audience area is 700 feet deep from the main hang to the back fence line, not to mention 500 feet wide, Alt notes that the L-Acoustics system delivered beautifully blanketed coverage across the space. “We positioned a pair of delay towers at about 300 feet out, but it’s really quite remarkable how far the K1 and K2 systems can throw and still sound amazing. I walked the audience area to critically listen, not only during the setup but also a few times during the festival, and it had plenty of presence and fidelity throughout the space.”
But one of the nicest parts about the system, according to Alt, was where it did not throw. “My favorite response that I heard was from the festival promoter, who told me how much better the coverage was this year and how few noise complaints they received from the neighbors,” he says. “And that was amazing because the stage right side of the main stage was less than 300 feet from the surrounding neighborhood. So it was a success on all counts.”
Much of that success can be attributed to coming on site with a solid system design created in L-Acoustics Soundvision. Alt notes that the design was a combined effort by Delicate’s Bryan Bazilsky, Vic Wagner from L-Acoustics, and Joe Fogarty from US Audio, which provided additional elements to complement Delicate’s existing system.
“The drawing that the festival supplied gave us a good starting point,” says Alt. “Bryan and I would discuss the goals for noise mitigation and SPL, and Vic would send back ideas on how to achieve them. It was a very fluid process. Once we were on site, we had to modify the subwoofer deployment because of changes that happened with an added DS ramp/stairs and a swimming pool of water from all the rain in the week leading up to the festival. We decided to elevate the SB28 on pallets under the stage and do an end-fire sub design to achieve the SPL goals as well as steer the low end away from the neighbors. This all came together on site. Soundvision, being such a powerful tool, gave us the ability test a few ideas before we deployed them, which was invaluable.
“Really, there are three things that I love about L-Acoustics for BottleRock: the global acceptance of K1/K2 by the artists, how fast the system goes up, and how Soundvision rapidly and accurately guides us to accommodate last-minute changes to the design when needed. Add to that the excellent service and support from the manufacturer and we couldn’t be happier. We are truly proud to be part of the L-Acoustics family!”
He additionally praises BottleRock 2019’s main stage audio team for their outstanding work, including System Tech Joe Fogarty, FOH Tech Alex Kanakis, Monitor Tech Arturo Acosta, Patch Tech, and RF Tech Ryan Trefethen.