Red Hook, NY (April 14, 2020)—Like every other act that planned on spending most of 2020 on the road, Bon Iver is currently sidelined by the pandemic. Still, dates in Australia and New Zealand are on the books for June, along with European festival shows in August and an extended run throughout Europe from November through the end of January, 2021. In between all that are a scattering of U.S. shows, which will sport sound reinforcement provided by Firehouse Productions of Red Hook, NY.
All that touring is in support of the act’s fourth and most recent studio album, i,i, and there’s already been a two-leg tour of arenas in select North American cities, for which Firehouse provided an L-Acoustics K2 and Kara PA for the trek. For the second, most recent leg of the tour, Firehouse took it a step further, deploying L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology.
Drawing on material from Bon Iver’s full catalog, the two-hour nightly show was performed by six musicians—two drummers/percussionists and four multi-instrumentalists/vocalists—generating 95 inputs from the stage, not including guests, talk mics and local channels. All musicians were on hard-wired IEMs, eliminating the need for stage wedges. Front-of-house and monitor positions both featured DiGiCo Quantum 7 consoles, and FOH Engineer Xandy Whitesel’s desk fed the L-ISA Processor via direct outs from each channel.
The tour’s L-ISA configuration featured three central arrays each composed of 16 K2 plus three Kara down, flanked to the left and right by hangs of two-dozen Kara as the Scene system, which extended over the full width of the stage. Farther out to the left and right, two per side, 12-enclosure Kara arrays served as the Extension system, while two fill arrays of 12 K2 expanded outfill coverage to 180° of seating.
Two hangs of 10 KS28 each were flown in close proximity to the center K2 arrays, providing homogeneous LF coverage, while three ARCS II per side down below were used for nearfield outfills and six Kara lined across the stage delivered frontfill. A full 52 LA12X amplified controllers powered the entire system, and four new Milan-certified P1 AVB processors plus a pair of L-ISA Processors rounded out the L-Acoustics system complement.
Although Whitesel had mixed using L-ISA technology for a select “one-off” show with the band at the Santa Barbara Bowl a couple of years ago, this was his first opportunity to tour with the setup. “Andrew Gilchrest, our system tech, and I found that the mix image and tonality represented at FOH was very consistent and natural-sounding throughout each venue with L-ISA,” he shares. “Even the far ‘nosebleed’ seats of the arenas sounded fantastic, as did the extreme left and right sides of the main floor where the L-ISA coverage very transparently transitioned over to the outfill coverage. There was no low/mid ‘wonk’ from seat-to-seat—it was all very clean and consistent—and there was also a noticeable attenuation of low end bleeding back onto the stage, which allowed the band to enjoy more precise in-ear mixes.”
Avoiding having too much of a good thing, Whitesel made judicious use of the L-ISA technology. “The band’s music is generally complex enough, so there’s no need to add fanciness to make it interesting,” he says. “We did use some dynamic movement of elements in a couple of the songs that really invited it, but our goal for L-ISA was to enable a quality and consistent immersive experience for the audience to more fully engage with the music—not to be distracted by the sound—and we absolutely achieved that. It was very apparent that audiences were stoked and totally engaged.”
Bon Iver • https://boniver.org
Firehouse Productions • https://firehouseproductions.com/
L-Acoustics • www.l-acoustics.com