The Huawei Joburg Day live music festival, backed by Primedia’s 947 music radio, has become a landmark event on Johannesburg’s social calendar, offering fans and families the opportunity to invite spring to the city with a day in the sun to the sound of some of the country’s best loved local musicians. 

This year was no exception, with thousands of Joburgers flocking to Crocodile Creek Polo Estate in Lanseria on 9 September, to enjoy the star-studded lineup. Artists included Prime Circle, Cassper Nyovest, Kwesta, Gangs of Ballet, Goodluck, Matthew Mole and Micasa, among others. The full-day event offered fans the opportunity to bask in some much-missed sunshine at the event’s expansive picnic site and beer garden while enjoying the best that the South African music industry has to offer.

Event organisers, Primedia, once again enlisted the services of Gearhouse Group to provide the staging, lighting and audio rig for the event. Project managers, Jaco Saaiman and Leslie Wahl shared some of the joys and challenges of setting up for an event of this scale.

Setting the stage

Tasked with the job of erecting the stage for the event, Saaiman pointed out that the greatest challenge was setting up a full stage rig on the uneven ground of the country estate. “We had to be creative to ensure that the stage was level, and propped the base of the stage on blocks to ensure that the structure was sound,” he states. Erection of the main stage started on 2 September and was completed three days later, allowing for two days of systems checks prior to the event.  

The unique venue design for Joburg Day caters for fans wishing to see their favourite acts within the golden circle and for families enjoying a day in the countryside at an expansive picnic area. This presents a unique challenge for the production crew, which Gearhouse overcame by erecting delay rings and LED screens in a circumference around the outskirts of the venue and in the beer tent, which ensured even sound coverage and provided everybody with an opportunity to enjoy the live performances.   

Lighting the rig

Lighting design and operation for Joburg day was provided by Gearhouse’s Lucky Nkosi – who has worked on the event for the past five years running. Nkosi, together with his programmers Tumi Mafora and Busi Ngema, put together an innovative lighting design for this year’s show. “Joburg Day is always a bit of a challenge as most of the event happens during the day. Without the cover of night to provide the contrast needed for a light show, it is important that enough LED fixtures are used to prevent the stage from looking flat during the day,” he explains.

Nkosi elected to use moving lights from Robe together with Martin Professional’s MAC 2K washes and MAC Viper Profiles for the stage. “This was the first time that I used MAC Vipers at this venue, and they performed well during the daylight hours,” he states. In addition, Nkosi decided to use the Philips Nitro for front lighting instead of the more traditional profiles, to optimise the lighting for video broadcast. He also elected to include sky trackers on the stage, to create strong beams behind the artists. “We have used high-powered sky trackers at the front of the stage in the past. However, we encountered some serious problems with this approach, as the Aviation Authority informed us that the beams were interfering with passing aircraft. To overcome this, I installed 2K sky trackers at the back of the stage to create strong beams behind the artists,” Nkosi explains.

 Stretching the sound

The Huawei Joburg Day has become synonymous with great music, and as such, a lot of emphasis is placed on producing the highest possible sound production for the event. Sound technician, Kgotso Motaung, together with the Gearhouse team put together a truly impressive audio rig that was designed to deliver high-quality audio throughout the enormous venue.

The main PA comprised four L-Acoustics K1 subs together with 12 K1 loudspeakers flown on each side of the stage. Three Kara loudspeakers were used for down-fill, together with eight Meyer Milo loudspeakers for out-fill. For side-fill on either side of the stage, the team used three flown arrays of L-Acoustics ARCS2, with two SB28 subwoofers. Stage monitoring was achieved using 12 HiQ monitors.

To ensure even sound coverage across the picnic lawns and in the beer tent, the sound team erected three delay rings encircling the venue. The first delay ring comprised three flown arrays of eight V-Dosc by L-Acoustics, with the second ring made up of two sets of four ground stacked L-Acoustic Kudos, and the third made up of three ground stacks of four L-Acoustics Kudos each. “With an arena of this size, it is essential that you achieve even sound coverage, no matter where you are standing, be it in front of the stage or at the back of the beer tent,” explains senior sound technician, Kgotso Motaung.

Motaung controlled sound for the event using a Venue Profile, with 48 channels providing the scope needed to take care of the bands, main vocals and presenter’s lines. He opted for an analogue split to ensure that his front of house monitor engineer had a feed, also controlled using a second Venue Profile console. When asked why he elected to use analogue over a digital split, Motaung stated: “While digital offers a lot of flexibility, analogue splitting is tried and tested at gigs with this type of rig, and I enjoy the reliability of this approach.”

Delivering world-class events

Gearhouse Group, once again, rose to the challenge and delivered a world-class production for Huawei Joburg Day. Primedia’s events manager Ebrahim Jooma, concurs: “I am happy with Gearhouse and the delivery and execution at this event and look forward to finding more ways to raise the bar in 2018.” Joburg’s music loving public no doubt share the same sentiment as they look forward to the next Joburg day scheduled to take place in the first half of 2018.

Story by ProSystems News, Photos by Primedia

Nov 30, 2017

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