For several years, the British Music Embassy (BME) has hosted a live showcase for emerging British musicians at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, but with this year’s event cancelled on short notice, the BME and its partners transitioned to offer an alternative broadcast event — a series of closed-door studio sessions staged at Production Park’s The Mill in West London, with Allen & Heath mix systems at the hub of this effort.
The broadcasts were distributed via radio and live streams across social media, featuring performers such as Aaron Smith, Arlo Parks, Bess Atwell, Liz Lawrence, Jordan Mackampa, Porridge Radio and Steam Down. Ant Forbes, production manager for the BME and The Mill, explains, “It just seemed like an obvious solution for us and the British artists. The format of showcasing artists in a virtual sense also made huge sense and felt like a natural progression. There’s definitely a future to this style of event and we’ll be looking at potentially recreating this after the event next year.”
With just a few days to pull the event together, the audio system was kept as close to the original plan as possible, with an emphasis on walk-up-and-mix usability for guest engineers working with tight turnaround times. An Allen & Heath dLive S5000 surface with a DM32 MixRack was deployed at front of house, with another S5000 paired with a DM64 on monitors, connected via gigaACE.
In addition, a new Avantis console was chosen as the production console, fitted with gigaACE and Dante cards, allowing patching to the dLive systems and providing a multi-track feed for the BBC and MQA live-streams. A trio of Allen & Heath’s new PRIME premium eight-channel preamps, fitted in a DX32 expander on stage, completed the package.
Steve Davies, engineer at Subfrantic Productions and monitor engineer for the BME’s SXSW showcase for the past seven years, notes, “Allen & Heath’s support has been amazing this year. We’ve managed to pull this together on a tight budget, tight deadline and with A&H’s help, it’s really eased up the stress of everything else. The dLive, as every year, is a hugely welcomed addition to our production. The drag-and-drop user interface allows me to quickly build scenes, get rid of channels and navigate the console quickly and safely – it’s a great console to busk a gig on.”
Freelance FOH engineer Gareth Cox adds, “The latest Avantis console is brilliant. It’s user-friendly, and with those huge touchscreens you’ve got everything you need, it’s really putting the controls right at your fingertips and it sounds incredible – plus, it’s incredibly easy to patch between Avantis and dLive.”