Along with retro-tech like vinyl turntables and instant film cameras, which have enjoyed a popularity resurgence in recent years, the drive-in movie theaters of old are also experiencing a revival in 2020. But that boom hasn’t always been sparked by patrons flocking to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
Case in point, Sully Erna and Aaron Lewis, frontmen for the hard rock bands Godsmack and Staind, very recently wrapped up “The American Drive-In Tour,” a 13-date, coast-to-coast run of “unplugged” concerts, many of which were staged in classic ’50s-era outdoor cinemas. To best reinforce every acoustic musical nuance and every word of intimate banter between these “old friends” of 25 years, Denver-based concert sound company Brown Note Productions (BNP) chose to carry an L-Acoustics K2 system for the tour.
Produced by Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP), the promoter behind popular festivals like Sacramento’s Aftershock, Daytona Beach’s Rockville, and Louisville’s “Trifesta” (Bourbon & Beyond, Hometown Rising, and Louder Than Life), The American Drive-In Tour ran from early October through early November. Marking the first time that these two musicians have shared a stage, each stop of the nationwide trek featured an impromptu setlist of each artists’ hits, choice covers, and many private stories and laughs.
According to Brown Note Productions President Ryan Knutson, the choice of PA was simple yet elegantly effective: arrays of eight L-Acoustics K2 were flown on each side of the stage, while eight KS28 subs were horizontally spread out in linear arrangement on the ground below. Two ARCS Wide, one each at the far left and right corners of the stage, delivered coverage to two small VIP areas, and the entire system was driven via LA-RAK II touring racks loaded with LA12X amplified controllers.
“I made the decision to use K2 for its flexibility in pattern control, provided by Panflex, as well as its versatility to be deployed as either a single-point-hang or ground-stacked system based on what was needed each night,” Knutson shares. “With only three guys on stage—Aaron and Sully, plus a third guitarist that Sully has recorded with on his solo projects—the stages were relatively small, so K2’s light weight, compact profile, and high output were also key reasons that we carried the system.”
“The drive-ins and other venues were all essentially big outdoor parking lots, so using the Soundvision predictions along with analyzer software and multiple measurement mics always achieved the desired end result, which was a powerful, beautiful-sounding rig for FOH Engineer Jeff Gilmer,” notes Brown Note Productions System Engineer Matt Brown. “Jeff has been Aaron Lewis and Staind’s engineer for 20 years, and he consistently delivered a great mix every night, and everyone was ‘all smiles’ at the end of each show.”