Recently, I have been lucky enough to receive live sound work with Aisle 6, a company that does live sound and lighting for massive range of events, they also run a recording studio in Salisbury with a tonne of quality gear. At this point I have had three gigs with them, one of which was a “bump out” from a while back, for this blog I will be focusing on my two latest gigs, both of which have been an awesome experience and already I feel like I have gained a wealth of knowledge, in both my soft and hard skills. Aisle 6 is owned by Producer/Engineer Scott Mullane, who is a very well regarded live sound engineer and studio producer/engineer, I’ve had the pleasure of recording with him before which was another valuable experience.
Brisbane City Council Food Trucks Festival
Approximately a week ago, the BCC launched a website for all the Food Trucks in brisbane, so people would be able to locate and discover new food trucks around the city. They held a small scale festival style event in Windsor, at Downey Park. Richard (Aisle 6 main live sound engineer) and myself were tasked with rigging up an outdoor stage for a variety of local artists to perform on. This went from a large steel-drum group of around 8 members, to solo artists with keyboards or acoustic guitars and vocals.
The rig we used included a variety of different bits of gear. The console was a digital Allen & Heath Qu16 desk, which from what I’ve learnt is a very simple and user friendly desk, I’m keen to learn more about, it catered to our needs very well on the day. Another major component was the Sennheiser wireless microphone system we used, having never used a wireless microphone system before it was exciting to learn how to sync mics and just generally figure out how they operated. This event really ticked off a load of firsts for me, I learnt about using 3 phase power and piggybacking power for foldback wedges and auxiliary sends for fold back.
The first group was the steel-drum group, given the small festival styled setting, it wasn’t really necessary to go and mic up every individual drum… of which there was many… So we set up 4 mono overheads and placed them around each corner of the stage, in a position where they would capture as much as sound possible. This worked well in pushing the full sound of the group a bit higher, they were already fairly loud to begin with. This was the only large scale group, the rest were all solo acts. These only required a DI for guitar/keyboard and a mic for vocals, most of the work was put into the transitions between acts, this meant giving them good foldback levels and getting a good signal for FOH. Overall it was a really chilled and fun event.
Coomera Anglican College Festival
Just last weekend was the Coomera Anglican College Festival, this event called for a bigger rig which would again be outdoors on the edge of their sports field. This event required sound for a range of different student acts, such as choirs, singers with backing tracks or acoustic guitars, full bands, and brass and woodwind groups. The day started around 9am which was followed with 3 hours of setting up, which towards the latter end, become a bit of a rush, not only on for us, but for the staff and students as well. A massive part of the day was working quickly between act changes In that time we rigged up the full passive PA system with 5 foldback wedges, the desk, the PA Power and channel racks, the wireless microphones and choir microphones (which gave me a bit of a hard time) and even some basic lighting at the back of the stage, and so on.
The desk this time was a different variety of Allen & Heath, an iLive R72. Which initially seemed a far more complicated desk that the Qu 16. However upon looking it up online, I’ve discovered it’s a very clever desk. It is basically a surface control for the mix rack. The channel input rack is connected to the surface control via an ACE ethernet cable, which removes the need to run a massive snake cable with all the individual channels. Richard was also making use of the Allen & Heath App that allows you to sync up an Ipad or similar device, to the desk, allowing you to have full control of the desks functions anywhere around the venue. This came in handy when he was tuning the PA as the desk was behind the stage to the left.
The different acts required a lot of different attention with microphone and DI’s etc. For the choirs and brass/woodwind groups we used the choir microphones, again we couldn’t really go to the extent of miking up every individual sound source, the choir mics worked well to capture all the sound though. Quite a few acts, mainly singers, required backing tracks for their performances. Luckily this meant could just give them a wireless mic and hit play. The later acts involved bands of up to 7 people, including drum kits, bass, keys, guitars, even a cajon. It became a bit of a mad scramble trying to get a level from everyone to Richard, luckily there were no real hiccups on the day!
On the drive back to Brisbane I had a good chat about the event and just general live sound stuff with Richard, who infact did the SAE diploma of live sound. His main piece of advice for me about the day was to do with my speed, while I felt of was aware of it, there were definitely times where I was slow or hesitant due to my inexperience/lack of knowledge. He understood this though, and I’m very glad he offered me this work and went above and beyond to almost mentor me in his field. I’m also stoked these are only smallish events as opposed to massive productions as I don’t exactly feel that would be a good place to start. Now that I have a bit more of a foundation, I’m much more confident now. I’ve got another 2 events coming next weekend and another big event on the following weekend. I can’t wait to get back into learning new techniques and improving my skills.