South Australia’s Summer Sounds Festival was a four-week outdoor concert series offering the joy of live sound to a 2,100-capacity audience. Eighteen shows ran the whole month of January, with festival goers safely and comfortably spaced in “Party Pods” that accommodated four to six people each. The festival celebrated Australian artists such as Bernard Fanning, Spiderbait, and Hayden James. Through the collaboration of Five Four Entertainment, Groove Events, and Secret Sounds, the festival promoters looked to Adelaide-based L-Acoustics rental network partner Novatech to provide the dynamic sound that live music fans have been craving.
Festival goers could choose from VIP, Gold, Silver, or Bronze seating packages. VIP pods occupied the first five rows and boasted an exclusive toilet block, faster drink service, and a choice of premium drinks.
With fans restricted to their pods, the challenge of providing consistent, clear coverage to the whole audience area was crucial, so the Novatech team approached this festival with a precise and careful sound design. The main PA consisted of 12 K2 line array elements and eight SB28 subs per side, and four Kara for frontfill hidden behind scrims. For delay, Novatech turned to its Syva colinear line source, cleverly rigged to the rear of the Party Pod, with Syva Sub tucked below. The slender but powerful Syva provided ample coverage for the pods in the back rows while ensuring clear views of the stage. The sound coverage for festival attendees was matched by the Novatech team, who provided the musicians on stage with 10 L-Acoustics X15 HiQ as foldback wedges, accompanied by two L-Acoustics SB18 subs to shake the bottom end.
Novatech Managing Director Leko Novakovic was overwhelmed by the success of this new way of experiencing live music. “While some people were apprehensive about being ‘penned in,’ all doubts were removed after the first weekend. About 80% of the feedback we’ve heard is that this is the way all festivals should be staged from now on, COVID or not. Most people want comfort and luxury, and to be able to sit down,” he explains. “The VIP and Gold sections are really nice, with their white picket fencing and vines, and everyone has tables and chairs. The Silver and Bronze pods that are further back are on raised decks, so everyone has good sightlines. Audiences need to experience this system for the first time to appreciate how great it is.”
Novakovic adds that this festival was made possible thanks to the support of the South Australia authorities, especially by the territory’s Health and Chief Public Health Office Professor Nicola Spurrier, which in turn got the nod of approval by South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall.
The success of the Summer Sounds Festival demonstrates that close collaboration between promoters, providers, local authorities, and artists allows for innovative and sustainable ways to experience live music during the pandemic.