Grammy Award-winning, and multi-platinum-selling rock band Slipknot has spent much of the past two years on the ongoing Knotfest Roadshow that recently wrapped up in North America, supported by Eighth Day Sound, a Clair Global company, supplying the tour legs with a K Series loudspeaker package from L-Acoustics.
Wrangling the PA for the group are front of house engineer Bob Strakele and system engineer Brian Sankus, who have been deploying ever-evolving loudspeaker setups as the band has moved from sheds to arenas and then back to sheds. “At the beginning of 2022, we were going from amphitheaters into arenas, so on each side, we flew 14 K1 over four K2 for mains, 12 K1-SB subs, and 12 K2 for out-fills,” Sankus describes. “In order to adapt and be quick for the rolling stage, we did six carts of three KS28 subs, in cardioid, with an A10 Focus on the top of each for front-fill. This was able to stay strapped together, use the least amount of cable, and be struck at ease. We also had six A15 Wide for auxiliary fills.”
For the most recent leg, which returned to sheds, Strakele and Sankus opted to rely solely on K2 for mains instead of the more traditional K1. “On this latest run, we carried a total of 56 K2 and 20 K1-SB, plus our normal 18 KS28, six A10 Focus, and four A15 Wide,” he continues. “To save truck space, we circuited out hangs as three and stuck to 18 LA12X amplified controllers per side, which kept us very flexible in the sheds and two arenas that we did.”
“Slipknot’s music is chaotic, and it’s a lot to manage,” Strakele adds. He took over the band’s house mix several years ago, following the passing of front of house engineer Dave “Shirt” Nichols, who originally specified L-Acoustics for the group’s touring. “Much of the band’s material is very fast, with hectic elements. When you have three drummers all playing at once, plus sub-samples and a DJ on top of it, low-end management is key. This kind of music in an arena would be a total mess if we didn’t have a proper sub deployment. I like the system’s low end to be tight, fast, and out of the way really quickly. I’m not a fan of ‘fluffy’ subs with this band. That being said, most of the work is done by the K1-SB in the air while the KS28 on the ground are nicely picking up the slack at the barricade.”
To ensure that the sound reinforcement system for every show was optimized to the unique geometry of each venue, Sankus relied daily on L-Acoustics Soundvision software. “Being a former production manager, I keep the rest of the show elements in mind the whole time, and sight lines are a major concern of mine. The last thing I want is for a band member or attendee to be staring at the front or back of a box for two hours,” he notees. “I’ve absolutely been loving the Autosolver tools, which give me a great stepping stone to move quickly toward the right setup. They take a lot of the guesswork out and give me more time to dive in and finesse what I want.”
Sankus adds that a significant part of the success equation can also be attributed to the manufacturer’s P1 processor and measurement platform: “The P1 is a breath of fresh air in our FOH drive lifestyle. The Autoalign function helps expedite the day to where we can get back into the bunk quicker.” He further details that the system incorporated a “triple redundant drive to the amps, and the house mix position had two P1 for I/O. Those fed a P1 at stage via Milan AVB and AES, and then we hit that P1 with an analog feed from monitors. The stage P1 hit the amps via Milan AVB with analog fallback, and it was an absolutely indestructible setup.”
Slipknot’s FOH duo expressed satisfaction with the loudspeaker spec for the tour. “Slipknot is one of those bands that hands you challenges every night, and that’s what makes it fun,” Strakele notes. “It took me a while to figure out the method to the madness of mixing them, but I think we definitely got there with L-Acoustics. It’s the brand I have the most experience mixing on; I know what it’s capable of, and I feel like it complements my mixing style more than most other brands. The system consistently covered what we needed it to, with very little change in tonality or power in the far field. Obviously, room acoustics play a big part in our nightly results, but the PA always kept up and never barked back at me.”
Sankus concludes, “Night after night, we achieved what we set out to, which was to provide the same tonal energy from the front row to the last. The fan that fought to get front-row seats and the fan that barely got tickets and showed up after work to the last row both experienced the same show. That’s what our goal always is—to ensure that every fan has the same great experience, and that’s truly what L-Acoustics helped us deliver.”