Bringing his annual flagship autumn gathering, Bass Center XI – Return to the Mothership, to the Hampton Coliseum in Virginia for his final seasonal event of 2018, Bassnectar headlined both nights with support performances from Noisa, Barclay Crenshaw, Stylust, Hatcha, Ill-esha and Ana Sia. Bassnectar’s choice of PK Sound to transport fans aboard the Interdimensional Adventure Ship with an immersive floor-to-ceiling sonic experience was key to the event’s success

Bass Center XI – Return to the MothershipDJ and record producer Lorin Ashton has been performing as Bassnectar since 2002, with this the 11th anniversary of promoting and headlining his own seasonal events – which include his annual New Year’s and Spring Gathering shows.

‘I would guess that under 20 per cent of the fan-base was local,’ says Arlen Cormack, Senior VP of Touring & Production at PK Sound and system designer for Bass Center XI. ‘It’s sort of like a travelling carnival. For all of his seasonal events, a lot of the same people will follow him wherever he goes.’

To meet the die-hards’ demand for sound at this year’s Autumn Gathering, Bassnectar FOH engineer Kyle Pace began by reaching out to fans: ‘I scoured through comments, forums, blogs – everything – and I started asking questions.’

Using their feedback, Pace went to Cormack, and together they designed a sound system for the venue. When fans inquired with Pace over social media what the rig was going to sound like in the days leading up to the event, Pace upped the ante on their expectations, saying, ‘We’re going to rip a hole in the fabric of space-time with low end’.

The Hampton Coliseum has hosted numerous musical acts, including The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones and Phish – the latter nicknaming the venue The Mothership, due to its distinct architectural design. Despite its popularity as a music venue however, the Coliseum poses some challenges for electronic music acts when it comes to balancing frequencies at the far reaches of the venue’s seating. ‘Bassnectar is very adamant about wanting every single person at his events to feel like they have a speaker directly in front of them,’ Pace explains. ‘So that’s what we tried to accomplish.’

Bass Center XI – Return to the MothershipCormack and Pace began with 16 Trinity Advanced Robotic Line Array boxes per side for the main hangs, which were set to a full 270° pattern, with the sound field in the top three boxes narrowed for longer throw to help the mids and highs reach the top bleachers. In addition, they included out fills of six Trinity boxes per side to cover the space directly right and left of the stage, with the sound field carved toward the audience to avoid unwanted reflections. Evaluating the room before the event, both Cormack and Pace noticed bass traps in the furthest bleachers. ‘We spent about 16 hours making adjustments and going through frequency ranges, just seeing how they travel through the venue, and we were getting a lot of 2kHz dropping off at 200ft out, which can sound muddy, because you can’t hear the highs,’ Pace says.

To solve the problem, they flew 32 VX10 Compact Line Array boxes across five house delay hangs in an arc around the bowl to provide the intended mid- to high-frequency sparkle for every seat in the house.

Since it wouldn’t be a Bassnectar show without major low end, Cormack and Pace used a foundation of 32 CX800 Subwoofers on the ground, while Cormack surprised Pace during set-up with an additional 12 Gravity 30 subwoofers also deployed on the ground, splitting them up to fill in the bleachers on the far right and left sides of the stage. Finally, Cormack and Pace flew six CX800s per side behind the main hangs, which they time-aligned with the Gravity 30s for a uniform arc wall throughout the arena. During tests, Pace said, ‘One of the PK Sound guys was walking throughout the arena and said, “You don’t need to change anything. The top seats are rattling”.’

Audience reaction at the sold out shows was equally enthusiastic: ‘Fans reached out to let us know how great it sounded,’ Pace says, ‘And we couldn’t have done that without PK Sound’s speakers. What we did in Hampton this year – it would have smoked any other system out there.’

More: www.pksound.ca

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