|An estimated 60,000 people attended the Global Citizen Festival; the stage featured a circular
video screen that projected images of the performers.
NEW YORK, NY—As Global Citizens,
participants in the organization by
the same name work for one thing—
to end extreme poverty throughout
the world. Since it was established in
2012, Global Citizen has welcomed
170,000 people to the organization,
who all work to improve the lives of
our world’s poor.
The goal of this campaign targets
an end to extreme poverty throughout
the world by 2030; bringing attention
to its cause, Global Citizen,
in cooperation with the Cotton On
Foundation, hosts an annual music
festival in Central Park, with performances
by a number of its participating
Providing the sound system again
for this year’s show, held September
28 with a line up of Stevie Wonder,
Alicia Keys, John Mayer and Kings
of Leon, was Red Hook, NY-based
Firehouse productions, boasting two
JBL VTX line array systems, with
two pairs of JBL 4888s for front fill.
The entire system was powered using
Crown I-Tech 12000HD amplifiers.
New to the company’s inventory
this year was its arsenal of 35 JBL
VTX-G28 subs, arranged along the
front of the stage in cardioid mode
(three speakers stacked together, with
two facing forward and the third facing
the stage, along with two additional
subs for a little extra).
“We got these subs two months
ago,” explained Matt Dittmar, VP Design
and Engineering for Firehouse
Productions, who said since acquiring
the new subs, the company has used
them at two major shows—the MTV
Video Music Awards and the iHeart-
Radio Festival. “The note they (the
subs) create is actually musical, versus
just pushing the beat back and forth.”
|Firehouse Productions vice president of
Design and Engineering Mark Dittmar gave
PSN a tour of the stage before the show.
While Firehouse provided
the sound system, each performer
brought along crews to man FOH
and monitors. At FOH for Stevie
Wonder was his long-time FOH engineer
Danny Leake, mixing on a
DiGiCo SD7 digital console.
“My company’s motto is ‘Paint
a Picture with Sounds,’ and I try to
paint a pretty entertaining picture,”
Leake told Pro Sound News.
Leake said he always has to stay
alert when working with Wonder too,
as the artist tends to stray from the set
list—if he even provides one. “He puts
on a very unscripted show, and he’ll
change it up,” Leake said. “He’ll just
start playing piano and expects people
to follow him. You can see Stevie perform
five different times, and you’ll see
five very different shows.”
Leake said he mainly uses onboard
plug-ins for Wonder’s live performances,
but he also keeps a Lexicon
960L on hand for reverb on vocals.
For mics, all the vocalists, including
Wonder, use Shure KSM9s, while the band uses a variety of Beta 98s, Beta
91s, 57s and Neumann KM 84s.
“We’ve gone through a lot of vocal
mics, and the Shure KSM9 was
the one we sort of fell into over the
last two or three years,” said Leake.
“For Stevie, it cuts through all the extra
junk on stage, and it’s also good for
the background vocals.”
Wonder has two engineers handling
monitors for his shows, with Dwayne
Jones manning the band’s monitor
system on a DiGiCo SD7, and Bill
Barnett mixing the in-ear monitors for
Wonder himself, also on an SD7.
Leake and his crew conducted
soundcheck for Wonder the day before
the concert, as large-scale performances
at Central Park are placed under
strict regulations as to when they can
play music through loudspeakers. He
explained that no one could play music
before 10 a.m., and there was a
hard curfew of 9:30 p.m.
|Danny Leake (center), FOH Engineer for Stevie
Wonder, stands with monitor engineers
Dwayne Jones (left) and Bill Barnett (right)
“At 9:30, if you’re not finished
playing, they’re going to pull the plug
on you,” Leake said. Dittmar added
that during soundchecks, they couldn’t
send audio through the delay systems.
The Global Citizen show took
place on the Great Lawn in Central
Park, which is an open field that spans
between 81st and 86th Street in the
center of the park. The openness of
the field was an added benefit for
Firehouse Productions, as it had few
sound reflections, Dittmar said.
However, one of the challenges Dittmar
faced was that the park only allowed
delays and FOH to be set up on
the dirt baseball fields scattered along
the Great Lawn in an a-symmetrical
formation. The park also restricts access
for larger trucks in the area, so the
crew had to manually push the equipment
from the trucks at Central Park
West into the site.
“The logistics of the show are
harder than the actual sound system,”
RF coordination was also a challenge,
as the wireless devices had
to share frequencies with New York
City’s vast number of broadcast studios.
Firehouse Productions brought
its own RF coordinators to the
show, and Dittmar estimated they
used about 125 frequencies during
the event. This number, he said, was
more manageable than the estimated
380 frequencies they used during the
VMAs earlier that month.
The day of the show, it was difficult
to wander through Central Park
without catching a glimpse of the
nearly 60,000 attendees waiting to
see the performances. Between acts,
world leaders, celebrities and staff
members of the Global Citizen organization
spoke to the crowd about
the importance of working to end extreme
poverty throughout the world,
and told them what they can do to
help. For more information on Global
Citizen and its mission, visit globalcitizen.org.