JPS Australia

History

Childish Gambino

Childish Gambino 1

With shows that are as immersive, interactive, and mesmerising as they are entertaining, Childish Gambino lights up the stage like very few artists can.

In Australia to headline Splendour in the Grass, Childish Gambino played a handful of arena shows for those not lucky enough to get to Byron Bay.

FOH Engineer Kevin Brown has been fortunate to work with some very talented artists over the years, which include Toni Braxton, American Authors, Chris Brown, OutKast, Joi, Nicki Minaj, and Cody Simpson.

He has been with Childish Gambino for only four months after he was approached by Tim Colvard, the artist’s previous FOH guy, to take over after the first weekend of Coachella.

Kevin was mixing on a DiGiCo SD7, saying he has tried to use the SD Platform exclusively for quite a few years. “At the time it was the only desk that didn’t make me feel restricted by its workflow,” he added.

The SD7 has a very powerful engine and you can do almost anything, whenever you want. That type of flexibility is paramount in allowing us to be creative as mixers.

Kevin was using a Neve 1073 and Avalon 737 for the main vocal, remarking that the 1073 is a great mic pre, and if you combine that with the smooth EQ of the Avalon, you start off in a great space for your vocal. For effects processing he was using an Eventide H3000 along with various UAD and Waves plugins for reverbs, delays and some chorusing.

Kevin describes Childish Gambino as a solid performer and dynamic with the microphone; there are times when he projects and others where he forces you to listen.

It’s all about dynamics, the ups and down are what create the journey,” he added.

This is a very exciting mix, especially from a mixer’s position. There is six-piece band on stage that consists of drums, bass, two guitars, keys, and percussion.
On top of that, you have playback tracks and five choir members. This puts us in the ballpark of 110 channels. There are so many layers that allow you to create a dynamic mix with lots of depth.

Childish Gambino 8

JPJ Audio provided gear and crew for the Australian leg of the tour and Kevin found himself using a Clair Brothers CO12 PA system for the first time. The system comprised of 16 CO-12 in the main with six CP-218 subs flown. For side hangs there were 14 CO-12 plus eight CO-8 for front fills and 16 CP-218s on the ground.

The first word that comes to my mind is powerful!” commented Kevin.

In the air the PA looked smaller than some other systems, but they sound big, and the subs sound huge. I was really impressed. It’s not every day you get that type of energy moving from an active speaker.

Kevin remarked that there was nothing special going on with microphones. There are a few Shure 57s, 58s, 98s, and AKG 414s on stage whilst Childish Gambino is on a Shure Axient Digital 58.
As Kevin concludes, the main ingredient is the group of talented individuals on stage. It starts at the source!

Childish Gambino_5A touring comms package included a Riedel Artist comms system, 2300 Series Smart Panels with David Clark headsets, and Bolero wireless comms for the stage, all interfaced into Big Picture’s comms system for seamless integration with cameras and directors.

Tour radios were also supplied by JPJ Audio with D2N also supplying a Hytera radio solution for the tour.

Charlie Izzo, who has mixed monitors for Childish Gambino the past 18 months, says everyone in the band has really good ears and expects a higher level of fidelity in their mixes. He ran a Solid State Logic (SSL) L500, with a Lexicon Pro 480L and a Bricasti M7 outboard, and Shure PSM 1000s for IEM.“I just really like the sound of SSL’s live consoles,” he added.

The preamps, EQs and summing have a real analogue feel to them. I use a Waves package as the flexibility and quality of Waves plugins really makes a huge difference for me.

Childish Gambino_7Charlie utilised an ELI Distressor to control vocal dynamics and a Lexicon 480L for the vocal reverb, saying it has been a standard in recording studios for years for a reason. “In the IEMs it really shines,” he said.

I also have a Bricasti M7 for verb. It is a really solid reverb unit that produces very clean, rich verbs. I use the internal SSL buss compressor. There are so many companies that emulate it with plugins, but having it straight from the source is spot on.

I use the Shure PSM1000’s because they simply sound great. They have a super quiet noise floor for IEM packs and they really translate what I’m doing on the console well.

Charlie commented that it really is a pleasure to mix for Childish Gambino, adding that aside from everyone being incredibly talented musicians and performers, they are also really great people to work with.

Photo Credits: ©Troy Constable

 

This article first appeared in the print edition of CX Magazine September 2019. CX Magazine is Australia and New Zealand’s only publication dedicated to entertainment technology news and issues. Read all editions for free or search their archive www.cxnetwork.com.au

 

Cher – Here We Go Again Tour

Cher 2018

The Here We Go Again Tour is the seventh solo concert tour by Cher in support of her twenty-sixth studio album Dancing Queen. The Australasian tour was a brand new production and as Cher shares the same management as Pink, some of Pink’s crew stayed on for the tour.

JPJ Audio supplied an audio package and crew for the tour including an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system.

I do like the L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA and although there are many good PAs on the market, I believe it to be the best sounding,” commented Cher’s audio engineer Tony Blanc. “The setup on this tour is pretty generic from the board out, it’s exactly as L-Acoustics recommends; the cable lengths, the hangs and the combination of the K1s, K2s and the KS28 subs. It’s configured off LA Manager and I’m fortunate to have Johnny Keirle with me and he is probably the best system tech in the business. He knows how to tweak the PA. He sets the PA everyday depending on the parameters of the room, the sizes, the elevation of the seats and the throw. I am in the driving seat and it feels like a Ferrari.

Tony reports that the K1/K2 combination allows him to precisely ensure that all the seats have the same energy. Quantities of PA varied a little at each venue depending upon the ceiling height and how far round the seats had been sold. However, the specified system had 24 x K1, 36 x K2, 24 x KS28 and 9 x Kara.

For FOH control Tony ran a DiGiCo SD7 console which he said is worth twice as much as his original house!

It’s an amazing console,” he said. “Before I started with Cher, I had three or four years on budget tours and I got quite used to Waves as a source. I had it with this console but after a day, I turned it off as it just changed the way the console felt. The only auxiliary gear I have are six channels of Summit DCL200 compressors to warm things up and a Lake EQ inserted on Cher’s vocal subgroup. I also have a couple of Bricasti M7 reverbs.

With a fifty year career, a Cher show covers many different genres of music including ballads, sixties pop, rock and disco, all of which keeps Tony on his toes.

Monitors were run by Martin Pare also on a DiGiCo SD7 console with a TC Electronic M6000 MKII system. All of the band, and Cher herself, wore Shure PSM 1000 IEM systems with L-Acoustic ARC sidefills to give the dancers some audio to dance to.

Cher’s customized, handheld microphones were Sennheiser SKM5200s. Guitars and keyboards are all direct outputs. The kick drum had a syn901, plus the Audix D5, the snare an e905, toms e904 and cymbals ATM450s.

Tony made special mention of the two JPJ crew out on tour with him – Kellie McKee and Joel ‘Cellphone’ Pearson – praising their work effort.
Cher 2018

Stage is covered by Hilario Gonzalez, a Solotech audio crew chief tech who works on the Vegas show, and his main concern being prepping Cher.
Cher 2018

 

Robbie Williams World Tour 2018

Robie Williams 2018

Global pop phenomenon, Robbie Williams toured his mammoth Heavy Entertainment Show World Tour around the country with JPJ Audio once again supporting audio needs.

JPJ Audio supplied an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA and amplifiers for the tour as well as PA’s for the A Day On The Green shows.

We have fourteen L-Acoustics K1 with four K2 downs on the main hangs with the same number on the side hangs,” commented Josh Lloyd, system tech for the tour. “We also have twelve K2 to cover anywhere up to 240° upstage as well as flown K1 SBs subs in the air, twelve aside. There’s a ribbon of sixteen SB28’s underneath the stage as an arc. Then there’s an end fire array, left and right, of six SB28’s plus an assortment of Kara and Arc2’s as fill boxes.

The whole system is run on the new LA12X amplifiers which Josh says have made an improvement in how the system sounds, as well as providing the incredibly helpful Load Checker feature that measures the attached loudspeakers to help make sure that everything is working correctly.

With the LA12X we use the load check function which verifies the cabinets and checks the drivers are intact,” he added. “In terms of aligning and tuning the system, I use Smaart with a wireless control so I can walk the arena. We do all the control inside LA Manager, although we have Lakes we don’t use them for that but for transmitting the audio over the network with Dante as an audio over IP.
FOH engineer Simon Hodge isn’t fazed dealing with Robbie spending much of his time out front of the PA.

We have a great PA which makes it about as good as it can be in terms of gain before feedback,” he said. “We’re very happy with the system and the way it is lined up makes a big difference. Also, we did a shootout between lots of vocal mics and we recorded the results of him singing with them. The Sennheiser Diigital 6000 system with the MD9235-J capsule gave the greatest rejection of background noise and therefore feedback.

The continuing reduction in RF spectrum also prompted a look at Sennheiser’s new Digital 6000 system which has helped the show as it has so much RF. According to Josh, the vocal sounds a lot more open and natural and the bleed from other sources down the mics is far cleaner and less problematic.

Simon runs a DiGiCo SD7 and with so many people onstage, he uses a lot of channels saying the show is not exactly automated although he does a fair amount of clever stuff running things to time code to make his life easier.

The show is still mostly mixed manually but we still spit out timecode which goes on to lighting and other departments,” he added. “We also multitrack everything at FOH so in rehearsals we can playback multi tracks that then goes off to other departments so they can rehearse without the band but still do all of the show cues.

Out front Simon also had four Bricasti M7’s with a controller which Simon describes as lovely and again it’s all automated in with the timecode cues. He also has a Transient Designer on the drum skins and an old fashioned Klark Tecnik Gate on the kicks and snares.
I find that the Gate in any digital console is not quite up to the standard of an analogue one,” said Simon.

After many years working with Robbie, Simon knows his voice extremely well and knows how it changes through the evening. As a result, there are quite a few tweaks that he does to his voice through the show.

It’s got to the point now that I can feel when he’s about to adlib and anticipate him,” said Simon.

Everyone onstage, including the dancers, use Sennheiser 2050 wireless IEMs with monitor engineer Pete McGlynn also on an SD7.

We’re gain sharing significantly which a lot of people don’t do but we know each other well enough to trust each other on the gains,” explained Simon. “So we’re acting as though we are one console so we’re connected together by fibre but there’s only one set of inputs.

Both SD7s use Gain Tracking and are on an optical loop, with two SD-Racks handling all the inputs from stage, an SD-Mini Rack handles all the Sennheiser Digital 6000 wireless microphones, which are fed in via AES/EBU, and a second SD-Mini Rack handles inserts and PA outputs at front of house. The optical loop is used not only to gain share, but to distribute comms and the comprehensive talkback system between front of house and the stage.

Around 96 inputs come from the stage, plus a large amount of inputs for band talkback and comms, which allow the band to communicate with the techs and Pete at monitors,” said Josh. “On top of this, we have triggers on the drums just to key the Gates on the console. Before you know it, the racks are all full.

For outputs, there are 24 channels of Sennheiser 2050 wireless in ear monitors, an Aviom personal mixing system for the drummer, a couple of hard wired mixes, various tech mixes and routing, which mean the monitor desk is also fully loaded.

JPJ provided the following crew for the two A Day On The Green shows headlined by Robbie: Conor Dunne, Lachlan Cresswell, Jesse Mahoney, Kane Phillips, and Stacey Handley. In Sydney Bianca Martin looked after delays.