California-based rock band The Northstar Session has been thrilling audiences and gaining fans since its formation in 2007. The trio has a rigorous performance schedule with dates on both coasts, and they have earned a strong following for their literate songwriting and sunny harmonies.
A key element of their live performance schedule centers on their acoustic trio sets in smaller-to-medium-sized venues, and for these performances, the band uses L1 portable systems and B2 bass modules, along with T1 ToneMatch audio engines, from Bose Professional Systems Division.
Matt Szlachetka, the band’s primary guitarist/vocalist, notes, “I think we found really quick that our harmony is our strength. To showcase that, we developed the acoustic trio sets. It’s a really good way for people to latch on to what you’re doing.”
Keyboardist/vocalist Dave Basaraba adds, “The easiest way to highlight that was to strip it down and make sure the harmonies can be heard. And there was the Bose L1 system.”
The compact nature of the L1 system simplifies the equipment setup the band has to haul with them.
Drummer/vocalist Kane McGee notes, “On the East Coast, we just travel in a pickup truck. We are able to fit everything into the bed of the truck.”
The smaller stages of these venues can also present certain challenges.
“A lot of these stages are really tiny. We don’t have a lot of space for amplifiers and stuff, let alone bringing in cumbersome speaker stands and monitors. We’ve got to be able to hear everything,” Basaraba notes. “It’s clubs and coffeehouses and bars. You’re trying to fit everything cohesively on stage, and at the same time make it look presentable,” Szlachetka adds.
The band’s acoustic setup includes L1 systems directly behind McGee and Basaraba, along with a B2 bass module.
“We don’t have any feedback issues that way,” Szlachetka notes. “And the B2 bass modules, whether you’re doing a more stripped-down acoustic performance or a larger-scale electric thing, they’re incredibly powerful. They’re fantastic.”
“I’ve never heard anything like the L1 systems ever in any P.A. system I’ve ever used,” notes McGee. Basaraba says, “The mix and clarity of the instruments that you get with the Bose L1 system and using the ToneMatch mixers is incomparable.”
Szlachetka notes, “The reason that we’re able to soundcheck usually in about ten minutes is because of the presets on the ToneMatch engine, and then that gives us more time to relax and focus on the performance.” McGee adds, “You’re not thinking about the sound. It’s already there. It’s done. You’re just having fun.”
“Having the consistent sound all the time, it’s incredibly important,” Szlachetka continues. “People always comment, ‘You guys sound amazing!’ A lot of times they’ll look around and go, ‘Where’s your P.A. system?’”
Musically, the setup lets them find the right groove on stage.
“We’re virtually hearing what the audience is hearing, so that makes it really easy to harmonize, Basaraba notes. “With the L1 systems we’re all experiencing it together. You tend to feed off the audience response and give them a little more, and they give you a little more back. It’s a conversation.”
Szlachetka sums it up: “It’s been allowing us to connect with audiences on a higher level. For what we’re doing it’s like the best P.A. we could possibly use.”