Loading the trucks for “Sonisphere” took us all day. There was 7 of us sound guys + Latvians and I think about 10 lighting guys (I should make sure about the facts), we also had 6 Dimas helping us (they are stagehands and it’s a long story why we call them like this). And we had some gear, too obviously.
There were 3×14 m trucks of sound and a lot more lights. These were the trucks that left from Estonia. It summed up to total of 12×14 m trucks arriving to the festival with equipment provided by Eventech . All the gear has been pulled together from Sweden, Germany, Latvia and Estonia. Maybe from somewhere else as well. I assume that considering the working hours that it took to find all these things and organize them smoothly together, you can already service a whole festival in Estonia.
I should confirm who did it, I think it was Tõnu organizing the sound and Raul organizing the lights. And here I also have to mention the Boss of our trucking company – Aivar (thumbs up), who is a kind of man who always gets the job done when it’s needed, no matter what . Without such attitude no one could work in our business. He also had something for the boys in his truck’s fridge all the time.
We were lucky because there were also big busses hired for the crew to get to the festival. Pori, where the festival was held, is about 200km from Helsinki.
First beers were opened before going on a ferry . When we got on ferry, everything went like it usually goes when our crew takes a little bus ride somewhere “!€%#!#€.
On top of everything we managed to get our good American Meyer Sound colleague Luke really drunk. And Tõnu planned (didn’t plan, to be precise) that 15 minutes should be enough for 30 people lunch break (which actually took around 45 minutes and bus driver whined all that time that he’s about to run out of “disc space”). This would mean trouble for us because it would mean he is not allowed to drive any further and we wouldn’t make it in time.
When we arrived it turned out that we are staying in some sort of school house instead of a hotel. I was lucky, I got the Library and got to read Juise Leskinen’s Collection of Poems to kill my hangover. I remember one poem from that. It goes something like this:
A Russian will remain a Russian
even if you fry him with butter
(Finns really love Russians)
On the festival grounds there were a lot of surprises waiting. Like it usually is on this kind of BIG events. Stage, FOH, dly, distances, degrees etc.
I should give a credit to the guys from our Lights department who were busy blueprinting the stage and preparing the rigging points. All of it was super! Our riggers are very good, world-class!
Loading in on the ground and separating the gear went without any troubles. We always had Tõnu with us to solve all kinds of unexpected troubles. All kinds of things like stagehands, promoters , food, forklifts, cable covers etc. It takes brutal amount of time and energy to deal with.
As we don’t take useless people with us on a gig, we
would normally miss one guy from the setup if something should go really wrong on load-in. And this sucks really badly if it happens!
If we count the sound up, then it doesn’t seem that much anymore :-)
Main PA: 18+18 MILO
Main Sub: 21+21+5 700HP
Outfill: 8+8 MILO
Frontfill center: 2 MILO120
Frontfill main: 3+3+3+3+3+3 M’Elodie
Sidefill rigged up: 4+4 MILO
Sidefill stack 2+2 UPQ-2P
Sidefill sub: 2+2 700HP
Delay: 5×9 MILO
Dly Sub: 5×3 700HP
3x Galileo 616
20x AI 212 monitors
10x EAW SM400 monitors
16x bi-amp monitor lines
When it all got rigged and juiced up we found out that placement of PA and video screens is not exactly perfect, to say the least.
To be direct and honest, it was completely f****d! It turned out that PA was placed behind the screens.
From the drawing the difference didn’t seem too bad, but reality was that PA didn’t cover the whole range before outfills take over, so there would be an uncovered gap on the sides. One PA array weighs about 2 tons and hangs 15m high on two 2-ton motors. Getting it down would mean taking it apart, also clearing all the cables and tilt angles. The time was late and the stage was getting pretty full of stuff and people. Oh crap….
And where the hell should we hang it then, rigging points were made by our own guys and you couldn’t blame anybody.
Here I should thank our rigging team who didn’t kill me after letting them know of the problem, but agreed to discuss all the theoretical possibilities to solve this, nevertheless they had plenty of things to take care of besides this. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to tell them, but what can you do.
They were able to move the whole PA 30cm to the front and screens 30cm to the back (that was the max that the stage construction allowed) without taking anything down.
I’ll remind – PA points were 15m from the ground, the stack weighs around 2 tons and it’s 6.7 m high. It’s quite considerable piece of gear, especially when it hangs above your head. LED screen was something like 9×6 m and it’s not very light either. It cost me a crate of beer. Hooray riggers!
The result was better than you could expect. This total 60cm changed everything drastically. Our American colleague watched it happen and to our surprise he was much less worried about this little failure, than we were. His comment was “Well, it happens all the time, no worries. We ‘ll make outfills louder…” After our little corrections he told “You guys are unbelievable! I wish there was more people like you in the world in this business! Let me tell you one story when I was once……….! You know exactly what you are doing. Why am I here? Ok, I’m getting paid and all that…”
Stacking the subs was also operation on its own. There was a grass field and stack of subs is around 350kg. Pushing it is pretty tough even on flat asphalt. This job was
carried out by local site crew.
First time we had to do an Excel document to get all the PA patching right. Usually it fits inside 20 channels and you don’t bother. This time there was quite a few lines running:
pa milo L/R 4+4
pa sub L/R/C 3+3+2
outfill L/R 2+2
Front center L/R 1+1
front out 1+1
front melodie 1+1
delay 1 milo 1+1
delay 2 milo 1+1 cardioid sub 1+1
delay 3 milo 1+1
delay 4 milo 1+1
delay 5 milo 1+1 cardioid sub 1+1
If I’m not mistaken it makes 100m 40ch. multicore only for PA connections. In addition to that there was also 100m 3x24ch multicore with mon. split and sub snakes that was used by the bands.
Hanging the delay towers was going on at the same time. We had Latvians helping us out with this job. I gave them heights and angles that I prepared earlier and off we go! Later we re-checked just in case.
Okay and now I forgot one of the main components of the system – Power!
For the sound we ordered:
1x 63A Stage
Tõnu was in charge of power distribution process. Power is very important for the sound, so you couldn’t get just some random guy to do it. Imagine if you would get audio interference because of electricity on a big system like this. You’d be totally fu***d up!
Tuning the system this big takes some time.
We tuned the main system (pa+subs+outfill+frontfill) on the same night, because Metallica, who was headlining the festival wanted to set up their gear and listen to the system one day prior to the show. This was the most important moment for us.
The guy came around, had a listen, we had a little discussion and made a few corrections according to his taste and got his confirmation. Everything is okay and Metallica will perform. Woohoo or something! And we had to tweak it really just a notch. We got it really close from start. With this setup we were ready to confront the day of the festival, because our American friend (who knew Metallica’s FOH BigMic very well) told us that if Metallica performs on some festival, other bands have to rest. Well, I don’t know.
On the next day it was really nice to tune the delay system during the soundchecks and we were done. 60 000 people were happy and enjoyed the shows from:
Lamb of god
Unfortunately I don’t have enough words and letters to describe the festival day. Nevertheless everything at our FOH worked the way it should. Band crews were familiar with ordered desks and worked really professionally. The life experience has showed that the more professional the band and its crew, the less there is problems (okay, sometimes there are some exceptions). For us the main events of the festival happened onstage. You have to ask Kalev or Rumpa about this because I don’t remember exactly who was running the stage.
When it all finished, we packed our 12 trucks tight to the neck and sent part of it back around the world. We got our gear safely back home and also let the Latvians go their way.
That’s how simple it was.
Sonisphere by Andrus Arba