The Bay Area is well known for its diverse and eclectic nightclub scene. Recently opening in the trendy Uptown area of Oakland, Crybaby is a 400-person capacity multi-use music venue that takes its name as an homage to director John Waters and his 1990 film of the same name.
Crybaby’s music and art-focused ownership group were able to secure the space previously occupied by the Oakland music scene’s iconic Uptown Nightclub, and the rest is now history. Crybaby was born of that same underground root but is coupled with the vast experience of industry veteran partners Jesse Tittsworth, Dominic Green, and Miles Palliser, in company with talent director Conrad Loebl. Alongside a carefully crafted room, the venue is equipped with a state-of-the-art d&b audiotechnik xS-Series loudspeaker system that is specifically designed to elevate the audience experience both on the dance floor and in other areas of the venue. The new system effectively handles both electronic/DJ acts and live bands, bringing the performance area as well as cozy mezzanine and patio spaces to life. It is an elevated experience for patrons and talent alike.
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Located on Telegraph Avenue, across the street from the historic Fox Theater, the venue is easily accessible to the busiest area for nightlife and entertainment in Oakland. Crybaby, alongside its sister venue Ceremony (opening later in 2022), come with a unique aesthetic and brand, rare to the city and music industry. The team has created an all-inclusive, elevated space, full of diversity in both talent and patrons, with no frills and a world-class sound team.
”The club hosts an extremely wide variety of musical genres each week, and we needed a rider friendly PA solution that could accommodate them all,” explained Don Lynch, owner of d&b partner and Crybaby integrator Commercial Audio Video Solutions in San Francisco. “It was clear from the start that the d&b xS-Series ticked all the boxes.” For the stage monitor system, four d&b M4 wedges and two B6-SUBs can be utilized in multiple configurations including stereo DJ monitors, four monitor mixes, and a drum sub. The M4 wedges are powered by a 40D amplifier while the B6-SUBs are powered by a 30D amplifier. “Such a robust monitoring system is atypical for a small venue indicating the owners’ commitment to quality all around.”
For the main dancefloor, two 24S-D were chosen as stereo mains for their high-output, dual 12-inch drivers, and excellent pattern control that energizes the audience without over-exciting the room. Four Bi6-SUB subwoofers on custom isolation mounts are installed under the stage and deliver more than enough low end for even the most demanding electronic acts. The mains and sub array are driven to full output by a single 40D installation amplifier. The main room is narrow and long, so one 10S-D is used for delay and one 10S loudspeaker serves as the mezzanine delay (both driven by a 30D amplifier) improve intelligibility at the back of the room and on the mezzanine. The bar zone and 2nd mezzanine are covered by two 10S and three 8S d&b loudspeakers to keep everyone in the show no matter where they are in the club. All fill speakers are powered by 30D and 10D installation amplifiers.
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“Sonic quality of the d&b systems was first and foremost… specifically the need to physically compel our audiences both on the electronic/DJ side, but also host a wide variety of live shows and bands,” said Jesse Tittsworth, owner/operating partner, Crybaby. “Not a lot of systems can properly cater to both sides, while also being so rider and tech friendly. What’s the point of buying a fast car just to skimp on tires? To that note and though it was a painstaking process, a hard-working crew helped hand build our sound panels, especially important with high ceilings. Our sound techs addressed as many rattles as they could. Most importantly, Don Lynch designed the system exactly as required and helped to facilitate the configurations our room would need for its various nights. The d&b show files and software have made this a breeze. Sound systems have gotten so smart these days; I particularly appreciate the amp-to-cone communication and configuration options.”
Tittsworth has toured heavily intentionally and has been a DJ/producer for quite a while. “In decades of gigs I’ve noticed sound is so easy to mess up, and small details are integral to properly connecting the artist to the audience. When done right, the listener is physically compelled by sound, but sometimes might not even notice… no ear fatigue, no ringing, no screaming over each other, just a sonically pleasing environment that you can’t wait to get back to, especially post-pandemic. It’s a goal of mine that every venue I'm a part of gives you that feeling where you’re pleasantly rattled in the chest by deep bass (but not the building), while still being able to carry on a conversation and make out a balanced track. Having opened U Street Music Hall I had a sonic reputation to maintain as well; very tight bass release, clear tops/mids, speakers that aren’t being overworked, and a treated room are essential.”
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Tittsworth said build outs are tough; construction, permits, inspections, various electrical/plumbing/HVAC systems. “It’s a lot to synchronize and each also carries AV considerations. For example, we lined our air conditioning ducts to acoustically minimize the delay and reverbs that would otherwise spill throughout the venue. Similarly, our subs are on isolation platforms to reduce low end from bleeding into where it shouldn’t which is especially helpful in the middle of Oakland. We made sure that our bar and both sides of our mezzanine are covered with more than adequate fill speakers. Don Lynch and d&b were there every step of the way with options, suggestions, implementation, and designs in hand to match us with the appropriate hardware for our dynamic needs.
“It’s the little differences that make the hairs stand up on your arms,” concluded Tittsworth. “All of these tweaks and the technical aspects come together to provide an experience that is beyond words, making you feel truly alive. Not everyone notices consciously, but it draws you into the performance so much more; you just get lost in it, in the very best way. I can’t tell you how many compliments we’ve gotten from various communities… but accolades pale in comparison to the experience itself.”