For the sixth year running, Gearhouse South Africa took on the technical responsibilities for Parklife in Johannesburg.

Taking place on a typical crisp winter’s day in Marks Park in the Johannesburg suburb of Emmarentia, Parklife Festival pulled in the crowds by promising a combination of gourmet food with performances from local and international musicians. Ensuring the organiser didn’t disappoint from a technical point of view was Gearhouse South Africa, which was working on the festival for the sixth year running.

For the 2017 event, various companies from the Gearhouse group took on the responsibility for the full technical package across each of the festival’s stages. ‘We supplied the complete audio solution for all three stages,’ says Gearhouse project manager Colin Kent. ‘In addition to this were two 12m dome roofs and an 8m dome roof for the DJ stage from Gearhouse In2Structures. It was a simple lighting rig for all three stages. LEDVision supplied the LED screen on the back wall of the main stage and LED wrapped around the C stage - DJ booth. Finally there were two 200kva generators to supply power to everything from Gearhouse.’

On the audio side of the project, Gearhouse turned to its L-Acoustics inventory to provide the main PA for all three stages. The main Park stage solution comprised eight V-Dosc for the main hangs with the same number of SB28 subs providing low end. Centre-fill was courtesy of three dV-Dosc while eight Kudo provided delays. Side-fill was catered to by four Arcs II supplemented by four SB18 subs. Completing the line-up were 12 HiQ wedges and a dVSub drum subwoofer. Power for the system was supplied by 12 LA8 amplifiers with processing from a Lake LM44 and control from Avid Profile 48-channel consoles at both FOH and monitors.

Festival goers could be forgiven a sense of déjà vu when heading to the Nux stage, as this exactly mirrored the components and configuration of the Park stage. The only difference from an audio perspective came with the boards selected at FOH and monitors. For this stage Gearhouse deployed Yamaha M7CL 48-channel desks at both locations.

As the smallest stage at Parklife, The Arch stage called on a smaller solution for its DJ performances. While L-Acoustics again formed the main bulk of the system, this stage also provided Gearhouse with the opportunity to go deeper into its inventory and deploy speakers from other manufacturers. The main PA was formed of eight Kudo cabinets with the low frequencies delivered by the same number of SB118 subs. Power was courtesy of six LA8 amplifiers. On stage the rental house deployed six Clair Brothers 12AM wedges while monitoring in the DJ booth was courtesy of two JBL PRX515 with low frequencies via a pair of PRX518 DJ subs.

When it came to the lighting, the timing of the event meant that it only required a modest solution. ‘The festival runs from 10:00 to 19:00 so only the last hour or so is in darkness,’ explains Mr Kent. ‘We used a very basic, mainly generic rig with just a couple of movers on the main stage.’

As such, the Park stage was equipped with eight bars of six PARs, four ACL bars and eight of Robe’s Robin 300 spots. On the Nux this was scaled down to just the four bars of PARs while The Arch was equipped with 12 Tri-Tours LED PARs.

While the lighting was on a smaller scale, the same could not be said for the LED screens that bedecked two of the three stages. Gearhouse Group company LEDVision called on its roster of Lighthouse DuoLED 18 panels to form the screens for the Park stage and The Arch. For the Park stage, 45 panels were used in an 8x5 configuration to form the 4.6m x 2.88m 16:9 ratio screen. Over at The Arch, 10 panels were stacked in a 5x2 configuration to form the 2.88m x 1.15m screen on the DJ booth. Providing control of the video content at FOH for both stages was a MacBook running Resolume.

With the equipment specified and the solutions for each stage designed, the real challenge for the Gearhouse team came from ensuring that everything would be delivered on schedule. ‘When it rains, staging at this outdoor venue can be a real issue because of the mud,’ furthers Mr Kent. ‘however, this year the organiser, Breakout Management scheduled it for mid-winter and the threat of rain was less likely.’ 

Of course, this also presents a challenge in its own right. ‘It was a typical crisp winter’s day and the weather was cold,’ recalls the project manager. ‘Extremely low temperatures on the load in and out made work slower than normal. Our solution was to just keep going and not stop. We prepare for a winter concert in pretty much the same way as we would for one in the summer, but obviously warm clothing and a hot meal are important.’

Despite the weather, the Mr Kent is clearly satisfied with the performance of the Gearhouse team and the festival it helped to deliver. ‘The results were fantastic. The crew all put on their A game and enjoyed every moment.’ 

More importantly though, he believes the client and the acts performing on all three stages were also impressed with the service delivered by the rental company. ‘Breakout Management are very pleased with the technical support we gave them and the international bands were also happy with our delivery,’ states Mr Kent. Having been involved with the festival for six years, Gearhouse is clearly doing something right. And for the project manager it is a simple equation. ‘We stick to the budget and deliver a great service.’

While delivering the full technical requirements across all three stages may sound like a complete package, there is still more that Gearhouse can do to win business from the Parklife Festival. Johannesburg is one of three legs of the event, with Cape Town and Durban also hosting their own iteration. With offices and equipment based in each of these cities, the rental house will hope it can expand its remit with the organiser.

Having been so deeply involved with the successful delivery of Parklife in Johannesburg for yet another year, there is every reason for the company to feel it is in the right position to service each iteration of the event in 2018. 

Story reprinted courtesy ProAUDIO MEA Magazine. Photo – Breakout Management

Aug 29, 2017

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