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We were asked to provide sound for the Eight Ash Green Festival again this year – the 5th year running. The festival, situated just outside Colchester, has grown a lot over the previous few years – what started as a day-long open-air music festival has mutated into a 2-day extravaganza with classic cars, bouncy castles, great food stalls, an acoustic tent and also music on the main stage (alright – articulated lorry!) spread over 2 days.
We were delighted to be asked back again this year. The music acts were varied and interesting and great fun was had by all. We also changed things around a bit this year – working the sound from the stage rather than a gazebo in the middle of the crowd which is how we’ve done things before. The main reason for this was the proximity to the bands – allowing us to look after their monitor levels and stage setup a bit easier as well as making sure that changes between bands were as quick as possible – sometimes only 10 minutes!
Here you can see the stage setup for the festival – not much room in front of the drumkit for a kick mic! The setup we used was fairly straightforward and allowed for different band setups with minimal stress. There were 3 vocal mics along the front of the stage – all routing through a compressor set for quick, 2:1 level control to avoid distortion if someone decided to suddenly shout! The compressors can be seen below:
You can also see the FX unit I used in this shot – a TC electronic M300 multi-effects unit. I used the “Live Reverb” setting for all vocal mics to add a touch of realism. Come of the bands also requested a short slap-delay which was also possible due to the unit’s double input.
The rest of the stage setup was 2 Shure SM57 microphones for guitar cabs etc – one each side of the stage, 4 DI boxes along the front of the stage for acoustic mics and bass guitars and a “float” mic each side of the stage – in this case Shure SM57s again for whatever found its way on to the stage – at times harmonica, extra guitars and extra vocalists.
The 2 monitors in the centre of the stage were on one aux send and the 2 outside monitors were on another – both were routed through a DBX 231 graphic EQ to reduce any feedback woes. The 2 smaller monitors by the drummer were both fed from aux 3.
Above you can see the graphic EQ utilised for monitor sends 1 & 2, the QSC 850 amp used for the smaller monitors on monitor send 3 and the QSC 2450 amp used for FOH. The DBX feedback destroyer was not used on this gig. Yours truly at the slightly side-on FOH position:
So what were the bands like?
A couple really stood out for me; Firstly Diezel, with their heavy rock sound and awesome mashups – most notably Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” over the massive riffs of Metallica’s “Sad But true”. They also managed to successfully blend Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” with Guns & Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” – inspired!
Standout band for the day for me were Swivelman, who managed to make a thunderous sound with just drums and bass! The drummer used DW drums – (in awesome black and red) which is always a bonus as you know they’ll sound great! The real clever bit came with the singing bassist though, who used a combination of loop and FX pedals and split the bass feed over 2 amps on stage – one for bass output and one for effected bass. They somehow managed to fuse together elements of the White Stripes (probably too easy a comparison I know) and Nine Inch Nails to create something truly catchy and creative – check out this project on the convertible car seat best rated on the market.
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