Florida Georgia Line named its first album Here’s To The Good Times, and good times are what fans get when they come out to the duo’s shows. Now, in the wake of hits like “Cruise” and “This is How We Roll” from that first, double-Platinum record, the act is back with Anything Goes and a ground-shaking arena tour to cement its place in modern country music.
Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line rolls through “Dirt” at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Helping keep the fans on their feet every night is an audio system from Clair Global (Lititz, PA) and a sound crew that’s come up through the ranks with the band. Engineer Jared Blumenburg hit the road for the first time three years ago when he began working on the production side for the duo, eventually moving his way up to FOH engineer. Likewise, monitor engineer Juan Gomez- Marin graduated from Full Sail and joined Clair Global, where manning the desk at stageside for the last two years has been his first work as a touring mixer.
Countless acts jettison their early engineers once they hit arena-level touring—but not this band, as production manager Ken Thomas explained: “The guys put a huge emphasis on finding good, quality people that fit early on and then having everybody grow. The tour manager, Troy Johnson, and I firmly believe that you find a good core of people that are going to stay with you for the next 10-15 years—you know, just grow the family.”
That family has had quite a trip so far; when we caught up with them, it was in a tour bus parked outside Madison Square Garden in New York, hours before a sold-out concert. Inside at FOH sat an Avid Venue Profile console, which Blumenburg mixes on nightly, going light on the plug-ins: “I use mostly Waves stuff, so I’ve got the Renaissance ’verbs, the H Delay, C6 compressor, Fairchild compressor on the vocals, and I use the Bomb Factory Slightly Rude compressor on the left and right. I don’t do a whole lot of processing really.”
Of course, the quality of a mix is dictated by what’s going into it, starting onstage at the microphones— of which there aren’t a lot. “Aside from wireless mics, pretty much the only ones on stage are on the drum kit, which is all standard,” said Elliott Wiley, monitor tech. The selection includes Shure VP88s for overheads, a Beta52 on the kick drum, SM57 on the snare top and AKG 451 for hi-hats. Capturing the bass is a Radial Firefly Tube DI Box, and instead of having guitar cabinets blasting away, guitar heads and effects go into Palmer DIs. “It’s still their tone, their head, just no stage volume,” said Gomez-Marin, “so from room to room, it’s the same sound every night in their in-ears.” The IEMs in question are JH Audio J16 earbuds on every band member, all attached to Shure PSM 1000 transmitters, which are fed mixes from the DiGiCo SD10 desk at stageside, chosen because “It sounds great and I can ask that console to do what I want and it will do it. Other consoles, you don’t have the flexibility of programming.”
The most important microphones on stage, of course, are the vocals— in this case, standard Shure Beta58s on a wireless UR40 system, using mic-mounted Optogates from Axl Joost Elektronik to help reduce noise going in. Keeping those vocals clean helps set the mix just as Blumenburg wants it: “If you plug your ears, the thing you should hear first are vocal, kick and snare, so I always try to leave as much room as possible for that vocal to sit on top and still have a kick and snare that sounds like it’s knocking you down. Joey [Moi, the band’s producer] one time told me that what he wants to hear is a Metallica show—a good, powerful mix where the guitars are huge—so if we sound like that, we’re doing our job.”
Bringing that massive mix to the crowd are Clair i-5 line array boxes, hung 14 deep with As and Bs in front, and i-3s, 12 deep, on the sides. Bolstering the flown i-5Bs are CP-218s, described by PA man Hank Fury as “the new killer subs from Clair.” How killer are they? Well, the band may sing about hell raising, but the new subs raised some of their own, laughed Thomas: “The three noise violations we got in rehearsals from the trailer park four miles away was impressive. The new subs definitely worked!”