ASHEVILLE, NC 9.28.21—The Watershed Festival is a three-day country music event and camp site that took place at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA July 29-31 with an artist lineup that included Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, and Thomas Rhett, just to name a few on The Main Stage with well over 26,000 in attendance and Brandi Carlile in mid-August with a crowd of 15,000. A homecoming of sorts, Carlile took to the stage with guests including Sheryl Crow and members of Soundgarden. Opening act for the Carlile show was Amythyst Kiah. A d&b audiotechnik J-Series loudspeaker system was provided by Carlson Audio, Seattle, who provides rentals and sound reinforcement systems for the Pacific Northwest.
“Our production manager Morgan Hodge was the main designer for this system and used both d&b ArrayCalc and NoizCalc to predict how the PA would react in a venue that presents several challenges,” states Jesse Turner, front of house engineer and crew chief. “The Gorge is an asymmetrical natural amphitheater that has evolved over the years but is basically a stage built on the side of a cliff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. This meant that we needed to design a system that has great coverage over the entire venue and serves the needs of the front of house engineers. We created layers in ArrayCalc to be able to have a symmetrical sounding system for FOH but also utilize the advancements that ArrayProcessing has given us in system clarity and control.”
Whereas d&b ArrayCalc software simulates the coverage of the loudspeaker systems inside the venue, NoizCalc is used to accurately predict noise emissions outside the venue to help plan for the environmental impact of outdoor events. These planning tools combined with ArrayProcessing deliver a consistent high-quality listening experience for the entire audience and a minimized impact outside the venue.
The d&b configuration for the Watershed Main Stage PA was basically the same between the two shows but slightly pared down for Brandi Carlile. 20 x J-Series in AP per side, 16 x J8s with 4 x J12s at the bottom. 12 x J-tops were used per side for out fills, 10 x J8s with 2 x J12s at the bottom; 24 x B2 subwoofers split into left and right stack to accommodate video and staging, 6 x Q7s were used for front fill; 3 delay towers of 8 x Vs-Series, 4 x V8s over 4 x V12s. The rig was all powered by 98 channels of D80 amplifiers and 36 channels of D20s. “All amps were connected via a DANTE network through 1 DS10 amplifier per side of the stage and Dante AVIO adapters for the Delay systems on the hill allowing us to quickly change configurations since some artists specified varying signal path requirements; for example, stereo subs,” Turner said.
Monitor Engineer for the Watershed Festival manned a DiGiCo SD12. “The festival rig had Shure PSM 1000’s for IEMs, and d&b M4s for floor monitors,” states Vince Agne. “Sidefills were 4 x d&b Q1s over a pair of V-SUBS on each side and drum Subs were Q-SUBs. All speakers were powered with D12s. Even though The Gorge Amphitheatre is a big stage, there is not much room for wing space. When you get 3-4 country band monitor rigs setup, all of a sudden you have a monitor engineer that is part of the show on stage. Having a d&b rig flown in the air, subs and wedges that are light/easy to move, but can still put out some SPL, and two racks of D12s to power it all, we were able to make our “Festival House Rig” footprint very small. It’s also nice when guest engineers come up, notice we have d&b rig, and know that they are taken care of gear wise. Through The Gorge winds, 100+ degree days, smoke from nearby wildfires, everything worked without a hitch.”
“We rolled out a couple d&b M4s with D12 amplifiers for the Brandi Carlile show at The Gorge not only to help augment the show for special guests, but also mix the opener for the festival, Amythyst Kiah,” notes Kyle Mooney, Carlson Audio monitor engineer for the Carlile show. “The seamless integration into the tour’s rig (also M4s with D12s) made it simple, and we didn’t miss a beat. But in tight sound check situations like this when mixing for a band that you’ve maybe never mixed before, it’s always nice to lay down M4s on the deck. You just know they’re going to work, they’re easy to deploy, sound great, and the artists are going to be very happy. I really couldn’t ask for more. They’re just solid!”
Photo Credit: Jesse Turner