Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill locations, named after the singer’s 2003 hit, “I Love This Bar,” puts a strong emphasis on sound quality when specifying sound systems and has named Midas PRO2 as its console of choice.
Handling the A/V systems for the chain is LiveSpace, a Michigan-based design/build and live events company.
“The first PRO2 we installed was in the Dallas location,” says LiveSpace president Josh Maichele. “It was the third PRO2 shipped in the US. The price point of the console for the amount of versatility, usability and sound quality we get out of it has been a big home run for us.”
With the success of the chain’s early locations, LiveSpace was brought on board to create a cohesive, professional presentation as Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill entered its current phase of rapid expansion.
“We’re a relationship-based company; we work hard to understand the needs of our clients so that we can tailor a solution specifically for them,” notes Maichele. “The important factors for the Toby Keith’s chain revolved around great sound, rider friendliness, versatility and ease of operation. Believe me, we looked at everything on the market, but when the PRO2 was announced, the only real question was delivery date. For how it sounds and what it can do, at that price point, it’s not even close.”
The various Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill locations range in capacity from 800 seats up to 3,000 at major locations like Dallas, TX and Rosemont, IL. Live performances range from local favorites to national touring acts like Ronnie Dunn, Montgomery Gentry and Gretchen Wilson.
With new locations opening in over a dozen cities in the coming year, another critical factor for LiveSpace is training the house engineer at each location prior to opening.
“Each location has a house engineer on staff, which is really important when working with visiting engineers who aren’t familiar with the console,” says Maichele. “We’ve developed a workflow for them that makes things pretty user-friendly, with all the routing they should need, plus clearly labeled channel names and a color coded system so that any engineer can easily understand what he’s running and quickly adjust things like gain and EQ.”
Maichele explains, “The biggest problem in working with an unfamiliar console, especially a digital desk, is a fear of getting lost, especially when something starts to ring or feed back. What we’re really teaching is muscle memory, so they have the confidence of knowing they’re only one or two moves away from getting where they need to go. That’s why the POPulation Groups are easily my favorite part of the console. If I’ve built my POP Groups correctly, I can hit those and with one trigger and instantly know where I am.”
The last thing that happens before the LiveSpace team turns over the controls is a technical training night, complete with a live band. Maichele says, “We take them from sound check right through the show, reiterating the workflow and why it’s that way. We start with a minimum of effects and dynamics, basically to drive home how good this console can sound. Then we build from there. It’s been a very successful approach for us.”