The Foo Fighters' engineering team with one of the DiGiCo desks on hand for its recent UK tour.London (January 2, 2008)--Foo Fighters undertook a nine-date UK arena tour in November, performing on two stages at each show. FOH engineer Bryan Worthen used DiGiCo consoles used twin D5s on the tour as a result--the A stage for the main 'electric' show, with an Electro-Voice X Line line array PA, and the smaller 'B' stage for the acoustic segment.
The latter was hidden above the audience in the centre of the venue, being lowered when required, giving an added 'wow factor'. This used a combination of flown L-Acoustics V-Dosc and dV-Dosc with subs mounted beneath the stage.
"Effectively one desk does the A stage and the other desk does the B stage, but both can feed either PA," says Worthen. "That's because there is a point in the show where I am pulling inputs from the A stage and feeding them through the B stage PA, at the same time as inputs from the B stage are also feeding its own PA!"
The point in question was during the song Everlong, part of which Grohl performed solo from the B stage with the middle eight and final chorus performed by the whole band.
"Dave plays on the B stage by himself with his A stage electric guitar, so his wireless system feeds the receiver and inputs on the A stage. However, he's singing into the microphone on the B stage, so I'm pulling the guitar signal from the A stage and feeding it through the B stage PA with his vocals," explains Bryan. "Halfway through, the rest of the band kicks in on the A stage, so I bring in the A stage PA and kill the B stage PA.
"There is a lot going on, almost 90 inputs on this show and it's quite complicated, but it works out really well. You just need to get your head around making it happen. The crowd goes crazy because they're all looking at Dave on the B stage in the center of the venue and all of a sudden it gets big and loud behind them. Working from two consoles is much less confusing than doing it from one, which is what I tried to do before and it didn't really work out."
Worthen is mixing the whole show on the fly, applying good, old-fashioned analogue mixing techniques. "I have it all in my head, what gets muted and what gets unmuted when, what changes are made here and there. I still mix very much in the analogue style," he says. "But I think in some ways that means that you can react to the venue and what is going on around you more easily than you can if you have got everything pre-programmed."
Apart from six Avalon 737s per stage for vocals and acoustic guitars, Worthen is using only the onboard processing of the D5s, which he is very happy with.
"I don't use that much, only an autopan on the Hammond organ's Leslie cabinet and Dave's 12 string acoustic guitar," he says. "That is pretty much it, unless we're in theatres where the sound is really dry and I need to add reverb. But I love the onboard processing. I have no problems with it whatsoever - it sounds good and it does what I want."
The D5s are also being used to record each night's show, a multi-track mix going straight to a Macintosh running Logic. "It all gets archived, put on to hard drives and sent back to Dave's studio, where most of it gets used later for odd things here and there," says Worthen.