March 14, 2014, by PSW Staff
Clearwing Productions of Milwaukee was hired by the National Football League for three Super Bowl venues, all of which it supported with a complement of L-Acoustics loudspeakers.
The NFL’s official Super Bowl Tailgate party held at the old Meadowlands Racetrack featured American Idol’s Phillip Phillips, The Band Perry and the cast of Jersey Boys on a new K2 rig. The NFL On Location Super Bowl Club featured the Fray and Cyndi Lauper before the game on another K2 system hung at the Izod Center in East Rutherford.
However, the real test for Clearwing took place during the entire week prior to the game across the river in Manhattan.
Super Bowl Boulevard took over Broadway between 34th and 47th streets featuring a stage that by day hosted NFL player autograph sessions and by night bands like Blondie, the Bacon Brothers, Michael Cavanaugh and the Cafe Wha? House Band.
The system had to be compact because, although the stage spanned the Great White Way, emergency vehicle lanes needed to be created on both sides of the street, which kept the stage width down to a rather tight 32 feet. Further, the system had to ground stacked, which made the choice of KARA and KIVA, supported by eight SB18 and a pair of SB28 subwoofers, one that met both the logistical and audio needs.
“Stacking in the downstage corners of the stage, the width of the speakers took up minimal stage space; plus, being able to stack the SB18s directly behind the KARA stacks allowed us to get the bigger sound that a three-way enclosure would provide while still maintaining a small footprint,” says Clearwing’s Steve Harvey, who, along with system tech Trevor Powers, was in charge of the audio for the stage. “We had the SB18s running up to 100 Hz for improved low end from bass guitar and drums, and the SB28s in front of the stage added extra lows in the drums and playback elements.”
As if the logistical challenges of an outdoor gig in the middle of Manhattan were not enough, the weather in New York City that week was at times very cold.
“Our semi trucks had to be unloaded at midnight and the show started at noon,” says Harvey. Outdoor temperatures got down to zero Fahrenheit at times. “The amps were turned on at the beginning of the week and stayed on all week. The L-Acoustics gear was solid throughout, however; not a single blip from an LA-RAK—even in these extreme conditions—and the speakers were solid.”
When the bands played, the audio had to cover an area that extended a full city block. That may sound more like a gig for a full-sized K1 rig rather than the relatively diminutive KARA, but it was about coverage—not volume—which is where the KIVA boxes came into play.
“We deployed a pair of KIVAs every 40 feet on each side of the street,” adds Harvey. “There were three sets of delays total, and it was all about coverage and intelligibility. Those delays meant we could hit the very back of the block without thrashing the nine KARA boxes stacked on either side of the stage. It was a tough gig, but the L-Acoustics stuff worked great.”