On 9-10 June, Trondheim’s outdoor Bryggeribyen EC Dahls Arena hosted the NEON Festival, a collaboration between live production specialists Trondheim Stage and Live Nation. Playing to capacity 18,500 audiences on both days, Alcons pro-ribbon systems were used on both of the festival’s stages.
With so many Norwegian artists having tours and festival shows cancelled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers of the NEON festival supported local talent by booking an all-Norwegian line-up of electro and hip-hop artists, including Karpe, Highasakite, Emilie Nicolas, Lemaitre, Arif, Myra, and more.
EC Dahls Arena is in the grounds of the city’s EC Dahls brewery, very close to residential buildings. With two days of high-energy artists on stage, it was important to give the enthusiastic crowd the sound for a great festival experience, but also to contain it to avoid unnecessary disturbance to local residents.
In previous years, the Trondheim Rocks festival has shown how suitable Alcons pro-ribbon solutions are for this venue. “The NEON festival was basically a ‘smaller’ version of Trondheim Rocks. For this event, the main stage had an extra structure on each side for LED screens and PA hangs, while we use our 5C corner stage as the B-stage” said Erwan Thomas, sound and systems engineer for Trondheim Stage’s audio division Trondheim.
For the main stage, system designer Arnstein Fossvik chose 32 14-inch LR28/80 larger-format line-array modules and 30 BC543 very high-output cardioid 3×18-inchsubwoofers, complemented by an outfill of six LR18/90 double 8-inch compact line-array modules on stage right, four VR12/90 12-inch mid-size versatile monitors as frontfills and two VR12/90 12-inch mid-size versatile monitors plus two BF181 18-inch compact subwoofers for nearfills.
For the B stage, he used the Alcons LR24 double 12-inch mid-size line-array as a main PA system for the first time, specifying 16 LR24/90 with 14 LR28B larger-format line array bass modules. Six more LR18/90s, two BF151 15-inch compact subwoofers and two VR8 8-inch compact versatile monitors were used as nearfield. The two stage systems were powered by a total of 188 drive channels, from 45 Sentinel10 and two Sentinel3 amplified loudspeaker controllers.
“Being an electro/hip hop festival, it was no surprise that the LR28 performed so well, thanks to its clarity, throw and coherent pattern control in both the horizontal and vertical planes. It’s a very well-designed large format PA and is always a pleasure to work with,” said Erwan.
“I wanted to make sure that the subwoofer array would perform the best it could, in order to satisfy every band’s need. Arnstein created a solution that performed really well—30 BC543 stacked two-by-two in a tight, inline arc delayed array delivered a tight, powerful, punchy and even response which was perfect for every performer. It was one of the best sub arrays I have worked with.”
Erwan and the Trondheim Lyd team received positive responses from all the artists, including the Saturday headliner, ‘darkpop’ sensations Highasakite.
“It’s no secret that I like Alcons pro-ribbon systems. The clarity and the sound suits my mixing perfectly,” said the band’s FOH engineer Johan Kristian Berntsen. “The new album’s sound is rich and covers a wide range of frequencies and, at outdoor shows, it’s always a challenge to get full frequency coverage for the whole arena, especially in the low end, since the bass in many songs lays in the 29Hz-40Hz range.
“I have worked with Trondheims Lyd´s excellent technician Erwan Thomas before, once in Nidarosdomen (Nidaros cathedral) with Emilie Nicolas, which was an epic experience. The system at NEON Festival was very well tuned, it took me less than a minute to realize it was exactly how I wanted it. The low-end coverage was probably the best I’ve ever experienced at a Norwegian festival and the system delivered a typical Alcons pro-ribbon sound—crystal clear and enhancing my mix to perfection.”
“I’ve had Alcons in my riders for many years, because I know the system gives me what I am looking for," added Espen Husby, mix engineer for Friday’s headliner Karpe. "Clear, distinct top end, a rich low-midrange and punchy sub-bass. This was no exception at Neon 2022. Karpe were playing their first festival in three years and everything from bass-heavy tracks to violin and percussion had to be heard in the 64-channel mix.
“The Alcons system was very well-tuned and it gave me every opportunity to place the sound sources where I wanted. It delivered fantastic speech clarity, even with the artists partially in front of the PA, and incredibly even subwoofer coverage. It made mixing hip-hop like a party.”
While the Alcons Audio systems did an excellent job of delivering great sound within the concert arena, while containing it to avoid unnecessarily disturbing local residents, the effects of the NEON festival were felt many miles away when rap duo Karpe encouraged all 18,500 people to jump in time with their songs. Several seismological stations in Norway and Sweden registered a minor tremor and a number of Trondheim residents reported feeling movement in their apartments.