OSA International and a Martin Audio MLA loudspeaker system provided the coverage, audio quality and noise control for this year’s IFC Fairgrounds stage at SXSW.
For the second year in a row, the IFC Fairgrounds, created by the marketing agency, LeadDog Marketing Group, embodied the atmosphere of a state fair and carnival experience with breakout bands at SXSW performing alongside rides, games, a giant slide, mechanical bull, prize giveaways and Austin food trucks.
Located in Austin’s Palm Park, the stage was distinguished by the professionalism of OSA’s crew, which included Peter Wiejaczka (A1 and sound designer), Alex McIntire (monitor assistant and stage), Peter Brennan (monitor engineer) and Paul Deuschle (production manager). IFC and LeadDog Marketing Group designed the distinctive signage and decor for the Fairgrounds, which Deb Miller, OSA account manager, fabricated.
The other critical component for the IFC Fairgrounds concert series was the Martin Audio MLA system consisting of seven MLA and one MLD downfill enclosure per side with eight MLX subs ground-stacked in a broadside array at the front of the stage optimized to cover the width of the audience area.
Asked about mixing the audio for this year’s event, Brennan explains, “The MLA system is essential to maintaining noise control and ensuring the sound where it’s meant to be, on the audience. Last year, we were able to change the MLA on the fly to re-optimize the PA to increase the volume for a larger portion of the park, which is what the client wanted.”
“MLA is one of the only systems that can be used by multiple engineers with no live sound checks between sets, and that’s a significant advantage in a festival environment. Any engineer can mix on it and be happy without going into the system EQ. They can simply focus on the mixing. With the precision of the MLA technology, we knew it sounded good, but we wanted to make sure the first downbeat came out strong.
“MLA is so coherent,” Brennan concludes. “The voicing is acceptable to every ear out there and we could easily achieve the tonality required for each band in a short time. We had a 4dB difference over 110 feet from the stage and, with this many boxes, that’s exceptional.”
The audio system for the stage also included a Yamaha QL1 console at front of house for incidental music, an AVID Profile for the band nexus, a Soundcraft VI6 for monitors and Martin Audio LE1500 wedges onstage to keep it in the family.
“Delivering flawless sound at a festival with multiple stages and performers is challenging,” says ceo & founder Mario Educate of OSA International. “However, the technology in the MLA makes the system an ideal solution. Our engineers are able to configure the system to deliver sound to exact locations within the designated perimeter and eliminating any outside interference, while producing an audio quality with precision and clarity.”
For three days, 15 bands took over the IFC Fairgrounds stage including Dry the River, Colony House, Jukebox the Ghost, Rubblebucket, Gorgon City Live, K.Flay, Twin Peaks, Priory, Robert DeLong, Odesza, Coin, HolyChild, Sun Club, X Ambassadors, and Smallpools.
Dan Mannix, president and ceo of LeadDog Marketing Group says, “The lineup was based on the overall upbeat and fun vibe we wanted to achieve and different music genres that were appealing to the brand’s sensibility, ensuring the energy was up throughout the entire event. IFC collaborated with artists they knew would reflect their ‘Slightly Off’ brand identity, appeal to their fans, and have the ability to drive attendance and engage the crowd through extraordinary live performances.”
Production manager for OSA Paul Deuschle emphasized the professionalism of the stage and crew: “My job was to interface with the bands as soon as they arrived to talk about what they needed. We had a wide range of artists including newer bands with boxes and suitcases hauling their gear to guys who had 30 road cases with roadies. Some even had their own front of house and monitor engineers.
“The biggest challenge was only having 20 minutes to get the band onstage off and the next band on. MLA was consistent and we could easily deliver excellent sound right out of the box. Some of the groups might have played six venues that week, so once they walked in and saw the setup, they were more relaxed.
“Even though there were all kinds of bands including heavy punk, hip hop, electronic music and pop, the coverage and sound quality was great. It sounded great up front, midway back through the audience, and all the way in the back of the park.”
Ultimately, the combination of OSA’s professionalism and MLA allowed the IFC Fairgrounds concerts to shine through all the stages at SXSW. As Mannix summarizes, “Word traveled fast among the bands that our stage was the one to be at, giving us a great leg up in year two for our future artist lineup while fans exploded the hashtag #IFCFairgrounds on Instagram and Twitter, sharing photos and videos of them having a blast.
“The IFC Fairgrounds was a huge success, marking our second year as one we’ll never forget. We brought in 15,000 fans, up 25% from last year, and this year’s lineup featured the most buzzed-about bands. Plus, with our top of the line stage, we were able to position ourselves as one of best stages and spaces at SXSW.”
LeadDog Marketing Group