NEW YORK, NY—To paraphrase the old horror movie, we know what Drake did last summer. The platinum-selling Canadian rapper hit the road on his Summer Sixteen tour, playing arenas across North America well into the fall, despite the production’s name. While he had to cancel the last six shows due to an ankle injury, Drake could probably afford to recuperate in style, as the tour’s 54 performances raked in more than $64.6 million, according to Billboard. On-hand at every show was a massive audio system provided by Eighth Day Sound (Highland Heights, OH) that was put through the paces nightly by FOH engineer Demetrius Moore, who has mixed the artist since 2010.
At the center of Moore’s FOH position was a DiGiCo SD7 console using 64 inputs. “I chose it for the warmth of its sound and its versatility,” said Moore. Effect-wise, he opted to go completely with plug-ins, particularly with wares from Waves and Universal Audio. With such a complicated show—between Drake and DJ, Future The Prince, there were more than 50 songs a night—console snapshots on FOH and the SD10 in monitorworld were triggered onstage via SMPTE from a custom-built Ableton Live playback system created out of two MacBooks, two UA Apollo 16 interfaces, multiple Novation Launchpads, MOTU MIDI interfaces, two Rosendahl MIF4 timecode convertor/generators and three Radial SW8 switchers.
Bringing the end result of all that to the crowd was a sizable d&b audiotechnik PA, built around main hangs of 24 J8s and eight JSubs per side, hung 36 feet off-center in order to make room for the considerable visual effects above the audience from the stage outwards. For the side hangs, a dozen J8s supported by four J12s were used on each side, and nine two-high stacks of B22 subs were placed across the stage.
d&b’s ArrayCalc simulation software and Remote network were used throughout the tour to design the system, and came in handy in venues where the ceiling’s weight limit required the sound team to shed a few boxes from the PA. “We were heavy a couple of days; we had to cut four J8s off the mains and two JSubs,” Moore recalled.
The design software also aided the tour’s stop at the Tacoma Dome, known for its challenging acoustics. “If you go into the building unprepared, you will have a horrible night,” said Moore, who added, “Let’s just say we had a great night, even though everyone was feeding us horror stories!”
As he has on recent tours, Drake used a Sennheiser Digital 9000 wireless mic for his vocals. “That mic has no issues in front of the PA,” said Moore. That was a key consideration as the artist was often out towards the audience and in one gag, performed from a flying gondala above the crowd. “Using that mic with his projection, he could go in front of the PA at the same volume and not feedback,” Moore noted, adding, “Sennheiser, they have a great line of products to help keep a clean, warm sound.”
All of that came together to provide Moore with the ingredients needed to achieve what he wanted out of the mix. “I try to give a ‘record mix’ with dynamics,” he said. While he kept the shows to 105 dB on average, Moore allowed that the biggest mix challenge of the evening tended to be right at the start: “The first song—you have the crowd noise at its peak and they’re hearing the vocal for the first time of the night.”
While the tour was a hit from beginning to end—and, as you can see it on to Pro Sound News’ Centerstage chart, there’s no break for Drake. With his ankle back in order, the rapper returns to the road this month for the Boy Meets World tour, a 35-show run through the UK and Europe that will wrap up in mid-March.
Eighth Day Sound