Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Tour has been on the road since 2007, starting with promotional appearances and festivals throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The world tour launched in March of 2008 in Avril’s hometown of Victoria, British Columbia, and is currently finishing up within the next two months in Asia. Working with Nettwerk Management, supporting the tour on the audio side has been LMG, Inc., a full service provider of show technology with locations in Orlando, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Throughout the run of the tour has been Jim Yakabuski, FOH engineer and LMG tour technician, Monitor Engineer Matt Peskie, and throughout the U.S. and European leg, Evan Hall, systems engineer and LMG audio technician. They’ve contributed some “perspectives” from the road of their experiences, challenges and solutions supporting Lavigne.
“Hey, hey, you, you, I want to be your girlfriend?” How about your systems crew chief? This year, I filled the role of systems engineer for The Best Damn Tour. My past experience with Meyer SIM and V- DOSC proved to be a perfect match for the direction of the system design and implementation on the tour.
This year, we selected Meyer 700HPs. They sound great, are self-powered, and have quick and flexible rigging. The approach of a center sub cluster is a great concept — there is amazing consistency of level and tonality throughout the entire venue and almost no cancellation nulls, except directly below on stage where your lead vocal mic is located. From a system engineer’s point of view, it’s a great canvas to hand over to an FOH engineer. “Yes, the low-end sounds exactly the same here as it does over there. And over there. And yes, up there.”
To make sure that not just the low-end sounded the same everywhere, I relied on L-ACOUSTICS Soundvision. I’m proud to say we used it every day. It would take me 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the venue, to plot the 3-D room and properly array all the clusters to ensure we were covering the necessary seating. It’s a great tool and it sure held up to its prediction.
With the SIM 3 system as the center of my measuring, the Meyer Galileo was the perfect addition with its slick user interface and route-able EQ inserts for SIM 3, which made my life very easy. Not to mention the true shaping filters, which were responsible for 80% of the EQ contour every day. If that wasn’t enough, the new L-ACOUSTICS LA-8 amplifiers added a whole new element of control. The new line of amplifiers gave me the ability to gain shade zones, if needed. Also, the added feature of output contouring was great to cut or boost the high end — to deal with loss due to distance in extreme humid environments or a glass sky box that couldn’t be missed with the array.
Monitoring with Matt Peskie
Currently, I am on the final leg, which will finish this 20-month long world tour. Yet, with 175 performances on the books, I still feel like every show holds its own variety of challenges. We spent all of 2007 doing mainly promotional appearances around the world, with a fair amount of full shows interspersed as well. Promo shows can become quite interesting in how they flow — you end up spending plenty of time waiting, but when it is time to go, you go. In those situations, I rely a lot on two things — knowledge of gear and the patience to work with people. Nothing is going to make that festival harder if you don’t know how to operate the digital console, and then monitor techs speak a different language. At least both of you speak audio.
I only automate send levels, on/off, muting, effects and some
insert on/off, and I take advantage of recall safe on the main vocal
channels and a handful of other channels. Even the band knows about the
snapshot thing — they know when they ask for changes during sound check
in the afternoon to let me know if it is just for that particular song,
or for all. When listening to IEM, a 2-dB drop in a guitar can make all
the difference for a particular song. In the end, the band will be
happier and the show will run smoother.
Front-of-House with Jim Yakabuski
From the FOH point of view, the 2007-2008 Best Damn Tour has experienced many perspectives. As Matt previously mentioned, we started the tour doing international promotional events from TV appearances to European festival shows. During that entire year, we did not carry an FOH console or any FOH gear. LMG did provide a monitor package for this first phase of the tour and throughout much of this crazy run, which included a DiGiCo D5 monitor board, a microphone compliment from Sennheiser, an IEM system and all the power and interconnect needed to put it together. At times, we dropped down to just a microphone package and each musician’s personal monitors, but from an FOH perspective, I was using the “system du jour,” or I was seated comfortably in a broadcast studio helping the staff with the on-air mix. I must admit, I longed for the day when we would get the full system on the road and start our arena tour, but that wasn’t to come until March of 2008.
When we finally got going, we decided to change out the DiGiCo console at monitors with a Digidesign D-Show Profile and use the same at FOH as well. This ended up being a great choice for both Matt and I as we’ve both been extremely pleased with the Profiles. I didn’t have a single piece of external processing, aside from a TC Finalizer Express, that I put across the CD Record Feed. Everything that went on in the FX, Comp and Gate world came from the Digidesign Profile and its plug-ins.
We are currently in Asia wrapping up the tour with a seven-week run. We will be carrying our own consoles on this phase of the tour, but speaker systems will be supplied locally in each country, so a new set of challenges await us over the Pacific Ocean. But after a year and a half on tour, we’re ready for almost anything!
Monitor System Tech:
James “Marcel” Marcelek,
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