Gearhouse capacity tested with back-to-back Durban events

Published: MEA

Gearhouse capacity tested with back-to-back Durban events

SOUTH AFRICA: The Durban branch of Gearhouse South Africa had its capability fully tested with a pair of recent events at the Moses Mabhida stadium. The office needed to supply a full complement of systems for the Durban leg of the country-wide Nicki Minaj tour before altering the configuration for a Human Rights Day event at the same location the following day.

The Nicki Minaj gig was the third date of her Airey Scott-promoted South African tour, sandwiched between concerts in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The rental house was called on for the audio, video, lighting, rigging and power at each stop as well as the touring systems.

‘Nicki Minaj promoters, Airey – Scott, approached Gearhouse SA in February 2016 in order to provide a full technical solution for the three city tour,’ recalled Gearhouse’s project manager, John McDermott. ‘In the final stages of the planning for the tour, Gearhouse received a request from the Department of Arts and Culture to use the same stage that Nicki Minaj performed on in Durban to mount a 2016 Human Rights Day event themed: South Africa United Against Racism to start the following morning at 9am. Obviously the two shows were significantly different specifications with differing objectives, but with the assistance of the local Durban branch we were able to swap out equipment to facilitate the new event in a very short space of time.’

The setup for Nicki Minaj called on a 28-cabinet L-Acoustics V-Dosc system with low end from 24 SB28s. Delays and fills came in the form of 12 dV-Dosc and 24 Kudo while power was from 28 LA8 amplified controllers. FOH mixing was taken care of with a 96-channel Avid Profile while monitors called on a DiGiCo SD10.

Away from the audio side, there was a large lighting and staging rig called on for the performance. ‘Stuart Andrews worked tirelessly with Kathleen Beer, touring lighting designer, in order to accommodate the desired design with the available local equipment,’ noted Mr McDermott. ‘Kathleen was most accommodating with regard to the availability of fixtures and substitutions. The venue restrictions were also taken into account in this process in order to achieve the desired effect. The finished product was dramatic, consisting of triangles of trussing converging onto a centre point. Each triangle was rigged separately, but the triangles were combined into upstage and downstage elements in order to achieve neat cable management and ease of set up and strike. A 14m x 5.75m Lighthouse DUOLED 18 screen was rigged upstage of the lighting rig which featured graphics provided by the touring production. Finally, a 1.8m high riser setup was situated in the upstage area as well as the lighting and LED.

‘The timing of lifting the upstage lighting rig was vital to getting the LED and set installed in time for audio and backline to access the risers and stage in general,’ continued the project manager. ‘This was achieved with good teamwork and cooperation between all departments. It was also the best load in time for the tour – seven hours from start to finish, line checked and ready for the band. All elements of the production worked well together to present a visually exciting event with good audio to boot.’

While getting this event right was a priority, the ability to alter the setup for the following day also needed to be taken into account. ‘For the outdoor Nicki Minaj show we used a SupaDome 36m wide roof, which remained in place for the new setup,’ explained Mr McDermott. ‘We loaded the Nicki Minaj touring equipment into trucks for their next stop and changed out control for audio. We also changed to a locally supplied lighting system. Although it was predominantly a daytime event, we needed to provide lighting ambience for the evening. In addition to this, we changed the A/V control, bespoke PA scrims and cameras to combine with the TV setup for a live broadcast of the presidential address on SABC.

‘Gearhouse worked through the night with a new crew, under project manager Trevor Mojela to be ready with the government event for the next day,’ he continued. ‘There was a security sweep at 5:30am which allowed the guys to grab an hour to shower and change before resuming their posts. The event kicked off at 9am with interfaith worship prayers and the Shembe Gospel Choir before the formal programme began with an address from Nathi Mthethwa, the minister of Arts and Culture. The day’s programme ran through until 4pm with a variety of local entertainment, including Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble, DJ Siyanda, Qadasi, Thobekile Mkhwanazi and AzaseAfro (DJ Tira, DJ Cyndo, Big Nuz and Duncan).’

Having hosted the concert on the previous night Gearhouse was able to call on some of that equipment the following day. ‘The stadium was packed and after President Zuma’s address, the audience were allowed onto the field which still had the pitch cover on it from the Nicki Minaj show,’ said the project manager. ‘The event ran until 4pm and the entire setup was dismantled and packed by 11pm.’

The rental house described both events as successful and believes the back-to-back nature highlights its capacity to support large multi-city tours without affecting its day-to-day operations.

south africa, live sound, gearhouse