By Clive Young
New York (September 5, 2008)-- Pro Sound News has always traveled the globe to bring you the latest stories; to cover this year's NFL Opening Kickoff concert Thursday afternoon, we walked five blocks.
The destination was New York City's Columbus Circle, where Keith Urban, Usher and Natasha Bedingfield performed through an audio system provided by both ClairShowco (Lititz, PA) and Firehouse Productions (Red Hook, NY).
Natasha Bedingfield got the crowd literally dancing in the streets.
New York's Columbus Circle is a busy thoroughfare, which required that all forms of the production be built at night when traffic was lighter. Central to the staging was a massive video screen.
The concert, running from 3-6:45PM, served as a preamble to the season's first game, where the Super Bowl champion New York Giants took on the Washington Redskins across the Hudson River at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NY (the Giants won, 16-7). Live performances from the concert were streamed live on the internet, with portions aired on NFL Network as part of pre-game programming. Concert organizers predicted a crowd of upwards of 100,000 people for the event.
New York police were extremely present at the concert, ensuring that the 100,000 people expected behaved themselves.
Firehouse provided stage and control equipment, including a Digidesign Venue Profile console used as a production desk, while Usher and Bedingfield were mixed on a Yamaha PM5D console at FOH. Meanwhile, Urban, a ClairShowco client, and his audio team, sporting FOH engineer Steve Law and monitor engineer Jason Spence, brought their own Studer Vista 5 consoles for house and stage mixes.
Mark Dittmar of Firehouse Productions goes for his radio while overseeing the event's Digidesign Venue Profile desk used as a production console.
"We've been up here since Sunday night," said Mike Wolf, corporate services manager at ClairShowco, smiling despite the 91-degree heat. ClairShowco's loudspeakers arrived on Monday and all of the production was slowly built late at night when the Circle--an essential thoroughfare for the city's traffic--was less busy.
Mike Wolf takes a deep breath before the afternoon's festivities get underway.
Given that the area is home to public spaces, retail shops, corporate offices and the most expensive residential buildings in New York, soundchecks for the system were limited to an hour on Wednesday afternoon, and a few hours on Thursday morning.
Homes facing leafy Central Park are among the priciest in New York City, so soundcheck times were limited so as to not disturb the neighbors.
The area immediately in front of the stage was covered by JBL VerTec loudspeakers provided by Firehouse, with audience pockets to stage left and right covered by ClairShowco's proprietary i-3 boxes due to their 130-degree coverage.
ClairShowco's proprietary i-3 line array boxes.
ClairShowco, which has been part of the yearly NFL Kickoff concerts since they began in 2002 with a Bon Jovi show held in New York's Times Square, also provided its i-4 line array loudspeakers for delay towers that lined Central Park South between the Circle and Fifth Avenue. Additionally, older ClairShowco subs at stage right and left were decorated with football team logos, providing an added visual element for TV cameras
Older ClairShowco subs at stage right and left were decorated with football team logos, providing an added visual element for TV cameras.
Firehouse provided stage monitors and mix area equipment for the event.
Given the tight quarters of the Circle and the massive concrete-and-steel buildings on its perimeter, a sea of audio reflections was inevitable and unstoppable. One loudspeaker hang, aimed to fire down Broadway, inadvertedly reflected back off the new Museum of Arts and Design, due to open later this month. "It's a perfect parabolic surface," laughed Mark Dittmar of Firehouse Productions. "Even better, walk one block down--there's a nearly 9-second reverberation, thanks to sound bouncing everywhere. It's incredible."
Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.