Chicago, IL––Returning to its new home in Douglas Park for the second year in a row, Riot Fest featured four stages of Martin Audio provided by Technotrix including the main Riot and Roots stages equipped with MLA.
The eclectic lineup for the 3-day, punk/ska/metal oriented festival included The Flaming Lips, Morrison, Ween, Julian Marley, Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, The Specials, Social Distortion, Nas, Deftones, Bad Religion, Rob Zombie, Bob Mould, The Original Misfits and more.
For the main stages, the Technotrix crew needed to provide exceptional front to back coverage for the audience area while cutting off coverage at different points during daylight and evening hours.
As Audio Manager Brent Bernhardt explains, “Festival management wanted us to have the PA throw different distances during the day. Zone 1 (Day Zone) was about 50ft. past front of house with coverage dying hard beyond that so they could draw fans into the stage area and not have them spread out all over the lawn. Early evening or Zone 2 was for direct support bands, and we’d open up MLA another 100 ft. Then Zone 3 would be for headliners in the evening and that was the system full on.
“We needed to maintain levels at FOH of 104dB A-weighted and have these hard die offs happen segmentally without affecting the rock show up front. To do that, we used a combination of different adjustable deltas and Hard Avoid in the MLA control scheme to create the noise cancellation in specific zones during those times of the day. The good thing about MLA was that we could fearlessly deploy these presets without changing tonality, something you can’t do with other PAs.”
The actual setup for Riot and Roots stages included 11 MLA and 1 MLD a side with 18 MLX subs ground-stacked in front of the stage in a cardioid deployment of 6 stacks of 3 each evenly spaced 4 ft. apart to allow for camera platforms, cryogenics and other special effects.
In addition, each stage had Martin Audio LE2100 monitor wedges, 2 WS218X with W8LCs on top per side for sidefill subs and 2 WS218X subs with W8LCs on top per side for drum fills. OSA International, Inc., an MLA Network partner, provided supplementary Martin Audio equipment for the event.
To better coordinate the musical output and operation from both stages, each was facing and firing in the same direction with alternating bands every hour and a large barricade running up the middle of both audience areas that created a large compound with two FOH risers 50 ft. apart surrounded by VIP sections.
Asked about MLA’s quality of coverage, Brent responds, “When we were testing the system in the morning at full open settings for headliners, the festival’s Production Manager came all the way across the park to tell us, ‘I can hear everything clear as day, it sounds amazing!’
“We also had very positive feedback about how easy it was to mix on the system and how pleased they were with the coverage front to back, which was great.”
Riot Fest Production Manager Grant Simmon adds, “The Riot and Roots stages required a variable coverage pattern facing forward and also needed tight control behind the stage due to its proximity to a residential neighborhood. There was also a hospital to the left of where the stages were pointing and we had no noise complaints or problems during the festival.
“As a production manager of festivals I’m on site to get a feel for what’s going on at various times throughout the day with the different sound systems in the venue. I’ll often text the FOH system technicians directly and ask them to dial back the top half of the PA. But what I was able to do with MLA which was unreal is text Brent, walk out to a specific point in the field and the full sound of the PA would suddenly appear in that area, even with a crosswind of 25 miles per hour.
“Ultimately, MLA should be the first choice when trying to achieve that kind of control and eliminate the deleterious impact of noise on the community, which was our no. 1 goal. That plus the system’s ability to move sound around while still using all of the power of the PA and its phase coherence in windy conditions. It’s just an excellent festival PA.”
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