Widgets Magazine

L-Acoustics unites fans at world’s biggest non-socially distanced concert since lockdown

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – “Haere Mai Wellington, welcome to the biggest show on earth!” exclaimed Six60’s lead singer Matiu Walters to an exhilarated 32,000-strong audience at Wellington’s Sky Stadium. In fact, record-breaking crowds at open-air venues welcomed the homegrown band on each of their six shows for their Six60 Saturday’s tour in early 2021. Throughout the tour, fans enjoyed the band’s electrifying performance through a powerful L-Acoustics K Series system deployed by College Hill Productions.

Turning shows into unforgettable experiences is no new feat for New Zealand’s premier sound production company. College Hill has been supplying systems for major international acts like The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Guns N’ Roses, as well as for local favorites like Six60 for 25 years.

“Our relationship with Six60 began several years ago,” says College Hill’s Operations Manager Reeco Adriaansen. “Both their FOH engineer, Chris Tate, and monitor engineer, David O’Brien, are part of the College Hill team, and this helps us to ensure that we are always on top of the band’s needs, especially for their bigger shows and multi-date tours.”

If College Hill has come to boast a roster of A-list artists and bands, it’s surely due to the quality of the company’s equipment and technical expertise. “Our strategy of selecting only the best equipment led us to become the official L-Acoustics rental network partner for New Zealand,” says Johnny Keirle, Front of House System Design and System Engineer at College Hill.

For the Six60 tour, most venues were flat-field, festival-style sites, which required a system capable of long throw. “L-Acoustics K1 was the only system with the required throw and it has the added bonus of being able to deal effectively with unpredictable elements such as wind and rain,” Keirle adds.

During the initial show design phase, a clean-looking stage was specified, so the College Hill team was asked to fly the PA wide and as far upstage as possible. “We had proposed a 20-cabinet hang, but we were asked to compromise due to weight limitations,” explains Keirle. “We reduced that to a 14-cabinet hang, eliminating four K1-SB and two K1. We adjusted the main hang design approach and made minor mechanical adjustments to our now 14 cabinet arrays to get the most impact from the reduced length.”

The final configuration comprised left/right hangs of ten K1 and four K2 each. Two K1, 12 K2 and four K1-SB subs were deployed for sidefill. Eight V-DOSC were flown for L/R delay with five additional V-DOSC floor stacked for the center delay. As there was no possibility to fly subs, the team had to rely exclusively on floor sub arrays, positioning 24 SB28 in 12 stacks of two subs in an arc that followed the irregular shape of the stage lip, working around the barrier line and stage access pathways. Mainfill was catered for by 12 dV-DOSC positioned as four stacks of three in the main pit area, with a further six ARCS placed on the outer edge of the pit. The system was controlled by a total of 66 LA8 amplified controllers and a P1 processor, which was used with the M1 measurement suite for system alignment and optimization during setup and as hardware for console inputs and matrixing, plus for RTA and SPL metering in NWM. The P1 sensor was also used for air compensation control throughout the show.

According to Keirle, Sky Stadium is notorious for its poor sound quality. Nevertheless, the L-Acoustics system performed flawlessly. “Coverage was fantastic and offered impressive tonal homogeneity,” he says.

Tate echoes Keirle’s thoughts. “There’s nothing else on the market that was up to the job,” he says. “In fact, we had members of staff coming to us post-show to express their amazement at the system, with the venue manager telling us he hadn’t heard sound that good in his entire 15-year career at the venue. This speaks volumes about Johnny and the rest of the team’s work as well as how good L-Acoustics systems are. We all felt privileged to be out gigging in such strange times,” Tate concludes. “It was an honor to be chosen to provide equipment and services for this tour. It definitely felt a little surreal, but I think the entire crew and audience felt really thankful and lucky to be part of such a fantastic experience.”

The Six60 Saturdays have been so popular with fans that additional dates have been added through April, including an Auckland show at iconic Eden Park on the 24th where they will be the first musical act to play in New Zealand’s largest sports stadium.

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