Harmony In Action: Live Sound For The Band Perry Headline Tour
Audio for a group of seasoned musicians presenting a "modern throwback" style...

January 21, 2014, by PSW Staff

the band perry

The Band Perry’s meteoric rise has officially hit warp speed, with the country group now in the midst of a headline tour of arenas following a stint as the opening act for Rascal Flatts in one of the top tours of 2013.

Siblings Kimberly Perry (lead vocals, guitar, piano), Reid Perry (bass guitar, background vocals), and Neil Perry (mandolin, drums, accordion, background vocals) are backed by a group of tight, seasoned musicians to present a “modern throwback” style combining classic country with rock, gospel and soul.

The “We Are Pioneers World Tour” launched in Sweden last November with new sound, set and lights, and then hit North America in early 2014, kicking off in Canada in early January before moving on to the U.S. through at least March, joined by opening acts Easton Corbin and newcomer Lindsey Ell.

Directing the sound reinforcement effort for The Band Perry are seasoned Nashville-based touring sound veterans Jon Garber (FOH) and Justin Beckstead (monitors), working with the Nashville division of Sound Image, headed up by Everett Lybolt.

The vocal harmony between Reid, Neil and big sister Kimberly is one of the keys to The Band Perry live, captured with Shure KSM9/HS condenser microphones on ULX wireless systems. The arrival at the KSM9/HS came after a journey lasting a couple of years that began with Kimberly on an SM86 and the brothers on Beta 58As, with an occasional appearance by Shure Super 55s for certain songs.

Jon Garber at his Studer Vista 5 SR at front of house.

“The KSM9s absolutely capture the full nuance of their voices while being very transparent in nature,” notes Garber. “Their supercardioid pattern also helps reject stage noise, particularly from the drums.”

Speaking of stage noise, it’s actually a relatively quiet space, with The Band Perry on Shure PSM 1000 personal monitoring systems and the rest of the musicians on PSM 900s, with all systems feeding custom Westone earpieces. There are no wedges and minimal fills, and that’s just the way Beckstead likes it from both sonic and mixing perspectives.

Justin “JB” Beckstead with wireless transmitters staged and ready to go.

“There are more challenges in mixing for ‘ears,’ but on the other hand, it allows me to deliver full mixes to everyone rather than just select parts, which was the case with wedges,” he notes. In addition, the CueMode function of the systems allows monitoring of up to 20 different channels on one bodypack, which comes in handy in monitoring the RF landscape.

“I use CueMode if we go out on fly dates and we have a limited number of packs and units. It’s very helpful, because you not only monitor the mix; you monitor the frequency that it’s on. So if they’re taking hits, you’re hearing it,” Beckstead explains. And receiving the information via the bodypack leaves him free to move about when needed.

The monitoring systems are fed by Professional Wireless Systems (PWS) helical antennas, pole-mounted for direct line of sight, positioned adjacent to the transmitters. Frequency coordination for all wireless is done with an assist from PWS IAS software.

Garber and Beckstead note that the overall RF environment they’re finding in North America is “tightening up a bit but workable,” and is best addressed with careful RF planning and quality equipment.

Guitar amps are miked with Shure SM57s or taken direct via Radial J48 mk2 active direct boxes. Drums are handled exclusively with Shure as well, with a Beta 91 half-cardioid condenser inside the kick joined by a Beta 52A, SM57s on top and bottom snare, Beta 56As on top toms and Beta 132s below, and KSM 137s for hi-hat and ride.

Garber’s rack of outboard effects gear assembled for specific applications.

No Matching It
Beckstead does his monitor mixing on a Yamaha PM5D console outfitted with an additional DSP engine, which he uses pretty much to the exclusion of outboard effects gear.

Meanwhile at front of house, Garber utilizes a Studer Vista 5 SR console that’s he’s chosen since it was introduced more than five years ago, including for a long-time stint with Rascal Flatts before joining The Band Perry. “It really comes down to sonic quality. There are simply not a lot of consoles that can match it,” he states directly.

He also prefers the Vista 5 SR’s straightforward Vistonics interface and ergonomics, as well as its workflow. It’s got all of the processing he needs except for select effects pieces chosen for very specific applications. This includes a t.c. electronic reverb fed to the console via AES, as well as an Avalon VT-737SP compression on Kimberly’s acoustic guitar, a BSS Audio DPR-901ii dynamic equalizers on vocal groups, ADL 1500 stereo tube comp/limiters split between kick and snare, and a Summit TLA 100A tube leveling amplifier on mandolin.

Another look at the “dynamic trio” in concert, backed by a tight, top-notch band.

“These effects units, the compressors in particular, deliver a good warm sound on the acoustic items and the drums while keeping them right in the mix at all times,” Garber says.

Sound Image is supplying JBL Professional VerTec line arrays, driven by Crown Audio IT12000HD amplifiers, all under the management of the Harman HiQnet Performance Manager control suite. Typically, main arrays are comprised of 15 VT4889 full-size elements, with 12 of these for auxiliary arrays and 6 more for side fill arrays. Low end is bolstered by VT4880 subwoofers on the deck.

Garber notes that this package has delivered consistently over a long-standing affiliation with Harman that goes back more than a decade, furthered by the high level of service delivered by Sound Image and Lybolt. “Studer, JBL and the entire Harman organization helps us tremendously, especially on these long tours,” he states. “It’s a great way to deliver consistently high-quality sound to both artists and fans at every tour stop.”

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Harmony In Action: Live Sound For The Band Perry Headline Tour