Though Vans is best known for the Warped tour (now in its 25th year), the more intimate House of Vans events bring together bands, DJs, visual artists, and skaters for concerts, workshops, and art installations at the company’s Chicago and London venues, with pop-ups from Detroit to Hong Kong.
Vans North America lifestyle events manager Chuck Radue specifies live sound products from QSC for these events, including TouchMix-30 Pro digital mixers, KW153 and K12.2 active loudspeakers, and KW181 active subwoofers.
Radue cites the ability of the TouchMix-30 Pro to be remotely controlled via an iOS® or Android device. “That comes in handy everywhere,” he says. “We do an event here in Chicago called Sessions, where we have open skating, live street art, and several local bands. The audience can literally skateboard to the music, and needless to say, you don’t put a front-of-house mixing position in the middle of that. So, we often place the mixer stageside or in other less-than-ideal locations. Then, the engineer or I can roam around with an iPad and work the sound.”
The multi-track recording capabilities of the TouchMix serve two other types of events, which Radue explains. “For Share the Stage, bands showcase with us and we record all their tracks through the TouchMix, then put them to video. We present those videos to a guest artist or producer — last year it was Schoolboy Q — and the winning band gets to open for that artist at one of their House of Vans shows.
“Then we have our Sidestripe Sessions music content series, which you can look up on YouTube.com/Vans. These are videos with established and up-and-coming acts in a space designed to look like they’re playing inside a Vans shoebox. Again, everything goes through the TouchMix and then we just hand the hard drives off to the video department.”
At Vans global headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA, the “shoebox” set started out as a jam room for employee use, because “Vans is such a music-forward company and we really appreciate the arts.” To configure the space, Vans tapped Radue’s musical background. “Before I had this job I toured for about 17 years. with a band called The Rapture,” he recalls. “Coming up, as I learned about gear and did a lot of listening, I found myself recommending QSC over other P.A. brands. At Vans, I’m the resident audio nerd, so when the general manager said, ‘Chuck, we need a P.A.,’ everything that went in there was QSC.
K12.2 loudspeakers are the monitors of choice in the shoebox, and they’re also the go-to mains at House of Vans’ many pop-up events. “We just put them all over the spaces,” notes Radue. “The coverage and clarity is just incredible. The EQ presets built into the K.2 Series are always very useful. We find we can almost always optimize the sound to the room using that menu right on the back of the speakers, instead of doing a deep dive into mixer settings such as EQ and compression.
“One of our most well-attended and, in my opinion, best sounding events was a synth workshop we did in Detroit with the artist Matthew Dear,” he continues. “We used K12.2s on sticks for that exclusively. We later did a second one in Brooklyn, to which we added a TouchMix-8 as his synth mixer. I also own a TouchMix-8 for my use for a variety of things.”
Radue also notes the KW-centric system’s projection in venues much larger than a shoebox. “Last year we flew in artists from all over the world to an open-air party attended by about 600 people,” he concludes. “We brought out the larger system with the KW153 tops and KW181 subs. I was amazed at how well it transitioned from indoor to outdoor use with that size crowd.”