For the last 12 years, crew chief Tom Caraisco has been the man behind the scenes for the annual Vans Warped Tour, which since 1995 has presented a wide range of bands as the largest traveling music festival in North America.
On the 2017 tour’s recent stop at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, he also played the role of generous host in showing us around, introducing us to the crew and allowing us to check out the various audio systems supplied by Rat Sound Systems (Camarillo, CA).
The schedule, always ominous, calls for stops in 41 different cities this time out. While the primary focus is punk rock, the variety of musical genres is extensive. Headliners in Orlando included Andy Black, Beartooth, Dance Gavin Dance, I Prevail, and New Years Day, with more than 50 additional acts making appearances on seven independent stages during a single day.
A notable perk for both the crew and performers is the addition this year of Audix as the tour’s official microphone sponsor. Each stage was equipped with a variety of the company’s wireless systems as well as vocal and instrument mics, with performers offered the opportunity to try them out.
Whether chosen by the crew or artists, most stages featured the familiar heartbeat of an Audix D6 kick drum mic. Music to my ears.
Even more Audix mics were seeing use at The Entertainment Institute workshops held at each tour stop, covering subjects ranging from instrument lessons to touring, life, music, and more.
In addition, Rat Sound has adopted numerous Audix models for its own inventory. Along with the venerable D6, the company has also found homes for the OM7 dynamic vocal mic as well as the F6 and i5 dynamic instrument mics.
In Orlando, the sound team made quick work of the setup, deploying L-Acoustics V-Dosc line arrays with the expected Rat Sound double 18-inch subwoofers stacked on the deck at six stages.
The lone exception was the Full Sail University stage, where the word “eclectic” might have found an ideal home, along with the classic Rat Trap full-range boxes that happily worked their magic.
These boxes pulled their weight very nicely, in a design headed by tight driver proximity for closer coupling and reduced phase interference. Each active quad-amped box contains two Electro-Voice 15-inch cones, two EV 10-inch cones, a JBL 2-inch compression driver and an EV (or TAD) 1-inch driver.
This was my first experience with the Rat Traps, and as a gear junkie and embarrassingly excitable fan of large-scale sound reinforcement, I was very impressed with the sound quality and design of these cabinets.
Despite seven stages of performances overlapping throughout the day, the crew had the systems dialed in and tight. Bleed from one performance to the next was contained and controlled, frankly substantially better than I anticipated.
Although punk is generally not selected for reference material, each stage offered well-balanced mixes with slightly more impact than this old graybeard expected.
Well done, audio professionals.