MC2 AUDIO POWERS STURGIS FESTIVAL
Friday, 23 October 2009 16:12
Over the course of seven decades, the Sturgis motorcycle rally has grown from a small regional affair in 1938 to the biker extravaganza it has become today. The first Sturgis motorcycle rally in 1938 was a relatively tame affair, and remained so until well into the late 1960s, when films like Easy Rider and Hunter S. Thompson’s book Hell’s Angels fueled the rise of the outlaw biker mystique. Since then, the festival has taken on a life of its own, and for a few weeks out of the year this pastoral community of 6,000 in South Dakota’s Black Hills becomes the Harley Davidson capital of the world, with attendance estimates of upwards of 700,000 (slightly more than the population of the entire state). On tap, for the musical portion of the festivities this year, were Aerosmith, George Thorogood, Toby Keith, Billy Squier, Lita Ford, Tesla, Hinder, Saving Abel, Buckcherry, and The Guess Who, to name a few.
Providing audio for the festival’s nine days of concerts at the primary music venue, The Buffalo Chip, can be something of a daunting challenge against the backdrop of the pulsating roar of several thousand choppers, which has become something of a trademark. The industrial strength solution to the sound reinforcement conundrum was a high-end sound system provided by production provider, Sure Sound And Lighting, comprising loudspeakers from Renkus-Heinz, plus amplifiers and signal processors from MC2 Audio and XTA.
The main stage’s sound system comprised left and right arrays of twelve Renkus-Heinz VerSys VLX3 loudspeakers, augmented by Renkus-Heinz ST7R and ST7LR powered boxes with PN102LAR powered arrays covering front fill as well as the VIP area. The system was powered by MC2 E45 and E90 amps (8 each) and two XTA DP448 digital signal processors.
“We needed a reliable, efficient, powerful and flexible amplifier and processor solution to show off the 12-box per side Renkus-Heinz VerSys VLX3 line arrays to the visiting engineers,” explained David J. Rahn, Renkus-Heinz National Sales Manager. “The MC2 amps took a beating not only from the weather but the bands as well. Using just 4 of each amp per line array made an incredibly small and lightweight package. Two XTA DP448s were linked together and used to switch consoles, EQs, crossovers and to limit and protect the PA with wireless tablet control. They worked extremely well together.”
Event producer Rod ‘Woody’ Woodruff reports overwhelmingly positive feedback from guests, artists and crew alike: “People actually came up from the campground to gather by the main stage as the sound check was concluding, just to ask about the sound system. In my 28 years here, nothing like that has ever happened before.”
Several of the visiting FOH engineers’ comments echoed Woody’s. “The sound system at Sturgis was the best sounding system I've used at any festival, and I've played them all,” remarked Steve Emler, Tesla’s engineer. “We’ve played Sturgis in years past, and the system sounded better this year than ever before.”
“I loved the way the mix sounded this year,” added George Marshall, FOH for Lita Ford and Twisted Sister. “It’s hard enough just getting it loud, but the sound was clear and articulate and the imaging was fantastic.”
“The rig seemed a bit louder this year,” said Dirk Durham, FOH for Toby Keith. “We had a pretty stiff wind coming across the field and the combination of the Renkus rig and the MC2 amps gave us the power to cut through it. The subs seemed tighter too. The whole system was easy to tune and the EQ was pretty flat. It’s great to do a festival and have a nice rig like that to work with.”
As if the usual challenges of throwing a two-week party for half a million wasn’t enough, the weather during this year’s event held a few surprises. The week kicked off with friendly skies but midway through the festival a series of storms rolled through, pummelling the area with softball sized hail that inflicted major damage to vehicles, flattened tents and sent crowds scurrying for cover.
“We took cover in the production office, which has a metal roof,” says Buckcherry’s FOH Steve Shaw. “We’d just come off stage and I was talking about how impressed I was with the sound of the rig. As we were sitting there listening to what sounded like non-stop buckshot on the roof, I looked over and saw one of the line arrays start spinning on its chain like a top. Not only did the rig sound great but it held its own against a South Dakota hailstorm.”