Broadcast live on MSNBC, the fifth annual Global Citizen Festival (GCF) took over New York City’s Central Park in late-September for a star-studded concert that featured headliners Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Ellie Goulding, Metallica, Demi Lovato, Major Lazer and many others sharing their voices and music to help reduce world hunger, poverty and other pandemic social issues.
Firehouse Productions once again served as the concert sound provider for GCF and this year switched over to an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system for the stage on the Great Lawn, where the 60,000 concert-goers in attendance also got to see guest appearances by Usher, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Yandel, Yusuf/Cat Stevens and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, creative director and curator of the festival, which is organized by the Global Poverty Project.
“I had not done this show in previous years, and it already had a format, so when I got involved I tried not to shuffle things up too much," said Jamie Pollock, Firehouse system tech. "However, I knew that I wanted to use L-Acoustics products to take advantage of their long throw benefits and overall consistency that they can deliver for such a large-scale event. The main hang was 14 K1 with four K1-SBs above, on each side. We had 24 of the new KS28 subs set up as a line in the center and an additional 16 SB28s used for the sides, plus 12 KARA in three stacks of four as front fill in the center. The delays were all K2; we had two lines of delays that were 12 boxes per hang for a total of 48 K2s.”
This production was both demanding and challenging, says Pollock.
“I knew it was going to be one of those shows where we needed every bit of resources we could get," he said. "We were limited to where we could put things on the Great Lawn and had to work within those guidelines. The PA was carefully calculated in Soundvision before installation, and when performing the system tuning onsite, I found my measurements translated nicely to what had been predicted. The system tools in LA Network Manager are invaluable and offer a resolution that helped me deliver very even homogenous coverage. I’ve used the new KS28 subs on a handful of shows since being put into the Firehouse inventory and they’re very impressive. We didn’t have many options for sub placement due to the set design but came up with a very effective formula in Soundvision to use the additional resources of the KS28s to extend farther down the length of the field. One of the biggest challenges that I faced was that the front-of-house position had to be set way off-axis due to the sensitivity of putting things on the lawn. This position was not ideal, but with the help of additional stacks of SB28s set wider we were able to specifically focus more energy to this area and help the engineers translate their mixes better.”
The set design, which accommodated both the needs of the television broadcast as well as the positioning of massive IMAG video screens on either side of the stage for the audience, was both a help and a hindrance.
“The main hangs had to be spaced very wide apart because of the set, which resulted in a small hole in coverage in the center of the audience," said Pollock. "There was also a large amount of space between the downstage edge and barricade line for an access road and TV elements. This space helped me in achieving optimum placement for the Kara stacks to fill the center area, and also allowed me to keep the main PA flatter to achieve a more constant SPL throughout the array.”
“They didn’t want anything on the lawn, so the delay towers had to go on the dirt where the baseball diamonds are," Pollock continued. "It was a little less than ideal placement in some locations, but using Soundvision really helped fine tune the overlap between the towers and choosing when to use the different combinations of horizontal directivity patterns on the K2. As we’ve come to expect with L-Acoustics, it all performed very well.”