I caught up with Post Malone’s “If Y’all Weren’t Here, I’d Be Crying Tour 2023” earlier this year on the portion of the run that was mostly outdoor sheds. It was a very hot summer night to begin with, but on top of the amazing performance of the artist, adding to the heat was all the pyro accompanying the show. At that time and then following up, I spoke with the tour’s audio engineers Kevin Brown (front of house) and Travon Snipes (monitors) as well as systems engineer/crew chief Eder Moura about their approaches and experiences with the tour.
Eder Moura (systems engineer/crew chief). Clair Global is the sound company, with Moura noting that Adamson takes the top spot on Kevin Brown’s rider as the main PA. “We teamed up with Eighth Day Sound, a subsidiary of Clair Global, to provide the system. To streamline the process, we initially assembled the control package at Clair’s facility in Lititz, PA before heading to Salt Lake City for band rehearsals. A few weeks later, I flew to Cleveland to prepare the system at Eighth Day Sound’s shop.
“We utilized the E15s (main arrays) and E119 (subwoofers) for this tour, which delivered a remarkably smooth system with powerful subs that pack a punch.” The role of side hangs was handled by S10 arrays, with S7 modules as frontfills.
All loudspeakers were driven by Lab Gruppen PLM 20K44 SP four-channel amplifiers managed with Lake Controller software to Outline Newton DSP for comprehensive signal management, system-wide equalization, and audio conversion from AES to Dante in the feed to the amplifiers, with an analog backup also in place. System measurement and optimization was assisted by the Rational Acoustics Smaart platform for system measurement working with measurement microphones on Lectrosonics wireless systems.
Moura posted three monitor screens to help him keep an eye on the system more effectively at front of house: “One screen is dedicated to the Lake Controller, allowing us to monitor input and output levels, with a special focus on temperature, given the outdoor environment and pyrotechnic effects that could cause the amplifiers to heat up quickly.
“The second monitor is allocated for Smaart, providing us with six different SPL meters and spectrum peak analysis to ensure precise audio measurements. Finally, the third monitor is used for controlling the Newton, enabling seamless management of our signal processing and overall system performance.”
Kevin Brown (FOH engineer). Relatively new to the Post Malone camp, his first tour was the European leg of the “12 Carat Tour” back in April and then continuing with “If Y’all Weren’t Here, I’d Be Crying.” Among many he’s also worked with at FOH include Chris Brown, H.E.R., Childish Gambino and Nick Minaj, to name a few.
A DiGiCo user since 2016, he notes that he’s mixed on all models of the platform, adding, “I even did a tour on an SD11; it was great! The size was perfect for what the tour needed. Since the Quantum line was released, the Quantum 7 is my console of choice; it’s an SD7 with a hot-rodded engine.
I’m using quite a few of the Mustard strips across this session. Mustard tubes are on all of the playback and keyboard channels. I like the tones and colors I can get from them. I also like the various flavors of Mustard compressors. For instance, the green is an FET style comp on guitars. I’m also using the red on things like drums and the Master Bus. It’s cool to have those options if you want to use them. The multiband dynamics offered in Spice Rack are nice as well. I use a few of those, most notably on strings, acoustics and Post’s vocals.”
Brown says most of his gear choices have come from observing other engineers as well as his own research” “In the old days, if I saw a piece of gear I didn’t recognize, I would look it up on what is now known as Gearspace. With the resources we have now, mainly YouTube, I can access demos and user reviews of new and old gear. Talking to colleagues has also proved useful over the years. It gives you a personal touch from someone whose style you know and someone who knows yours. Just don’t talk to Travon – I almost buy a new piece whenever we talk… (laughs).
“With all of that said, one of my favorite pieces is the Eventide H3000. The first time I had access to one was on a ‘House of Blues’ tour. This is back when they were all analog. A colleague told me to dig into the unit because of what it had to offer. I did, and it hasn’t left my side since! It’s hands-down one of my favorites! I use it everywhere on everything: vocals, drums, guitars, strings, playback. Everything hits it at some point during this show.”
When it comes to effects, Waves PSE is one Brown wouldn’t want to live without. “What this plugin does for your mix is pretty incredible. It’s not a gate and it’s not an expander; it’s a cross between the two. It allows more gain before feedback, which is huge. But, it also helps clear instrument and ambient bleed in the mix. They also make it very simple to use. Two parameters and you are up and running very quickly.
“Generally speaking I want the crowd to hear a song and go back to the first time they heard it. They hear these songs day in and day out; in their cars, at the gym, doing homework, in the shower, and etc. When that song plays in the show I want them to return to that moment.” Brown also wants the audience to experience another moment when they hear the ‘live version’” “The most important part for me is to make it feel good. Keep his vocal clear and let it knock. I love low-end, and Post does as well. It was the one note he had before we got into rehearsal. He wanted to make sure the music would still “hit” even with the addition of a live band.”
He adds that Malone has a very dynamic voice: “One of the many things Post does very well is convey emotion and passion. He has one of the most dynamic voices I’ve had the opportunity to mix. It would be very easy to over-compress him. His tone and volume can vary drastically per song. Multistage and band compression have been my keys to keeping the integrity of his vocal performance. I want to make sure the audience feels his passion.”
FOH and monitors should be a team, explains Brown, saying what one engineer does can have a big impact on the other: “We talk about all the audio decisions as a team to make sure it works for both of us. Mic changes, gain changes, etc. Even if I change a mic position, I will let Travon know so it doesn’t throw off what he has going on.
“It’s a mutual relationship that all engineers need to respect. If you fight each other from opposite sides of the snake, no one wins; making both our jobs harder. Eder has also been great to work with as a crew chief and a systems engineer. This is our second tour together and we understand each other well. He knows what I’m going for but I also trust his ears and years of experience. It’s a great team to work with. We all want the same thing: to have a great show so we work together to make it happen!”
Travon Snipes (monitor engineer). Since he began working with Malone, he too has mixed on several different DiGiCo boards, starting with an SD10 then moving to the SD5 and Q5, adding, “I’ve used the SD12 for one-off shows and sometimes even the (Quantum) 338 so I’m well versed with DiGiCo for sure.”
Snipes changed from the Q5 to a Q7 when he learned that the tour was going to a full band: “I wanted to have a layout more conducive to a full band on this leg and felt like the Q7 would help me get to multiple mixes quickly and efficiently.” He spoke with Brown, who essentially confirmed his thinking and provided some valuable techniques, before making the move. He generally handled 96 inputs with 17 stereo mixes with another 20 various outputs on most shows.
When Snipes first started working with Malone, a DPA capsule captured the artist’s vocals, working with a Shure Axient wireless transmitter. It was a combination that worked well, he notes, but having been a huge fan of Sennheiser for some time and using it quite a bit with other artists, he decided to try it with Malone. “The Sennheiser Digital 9000 (with a transmitter with an MD9235 capsule) still allows him to do his creative movements with the mic in front of a PA the whole show,” Snipes says. “I’m glad we made the move, it’s been an incredible setup for us.”
A string section was added for the tour, with Snipes explaining that the goal was to attain a quality sound from that group while keeping the noise bleed down to a minimum on stage, adding, “We tried different mics and ultimately worked with the string players to get the right pickups and Dis to help us achieve a great direct sound.”
Malone wears FiR Audio Xenon 6 in-ear monitors, and Snipes notes they’ve been the choice for the past year and have been “absolutely awesome” to work with: “There wasn’t a long process to onboard these. We swapped them out in rehearsals last year and Post was very pleased with the sound from the beginning. He definitely noticed a higher fidelity and loved how the fit felt for him.”
Effects include a Waves PSE (Primary Source Expander) joined by plugins from SSL as well as outboard gear from Manley (Nu Mu compressor/limiter), Burl (Mothership backplane delivering digital audio throughput), and Bricasti (reverb).
“Waves is allowing me to clean up the vocal a lot,” he concludes. Since he performs a lot in front of the PA, the PSE is helping me get rid of bleed into the mic. The SSL EQ also helps me clean up the vocal, with the Nu Mu helps to ‘glue’ his mix and add some warmth. The Mothership is allowing me to bring everything in the desk at AES while adding some great saturation with their transformers. The Bricasti reverb is the added sauce, and I love how that reverb adds dimension to the mix.”
Additional audio/production crew members on the tour included Monitor Tech: Justin Curtiss (monitor tech), Nicholas Jark (SL PA tech/stage patch), Gonzalo Pintado (SR PA tech), Angie Warner (tour manager) and Dennis Danneels (production manager).