Bosch Communications Systems Brands and Products Take Over Austin during Biggest Indie Rock Conference in the World, South by Southwest (SxSW)
Held from March 9th to March 18th in Austin, Texas, this year’s South by Southwest once again featured thousands of participants and showgoers, each person somehow involved in music, film, or interactive media. Over 1400 bands performed in the 60 participating venues over the weeklong conference that attracted over 10,000 people registered for the accompanying tradeshow. More than 1500 other bands also performed during the festival but in unofficial “underground“ clubs. Ultimately, this influx of musicians from over 60 countries globally and every state in the U.S. created without a shred of doubt the largest festival/conference of its kind, lending Austin the title “Live Music Capital of the World“. According to the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau, the 2007 conference had over a 38 million dollar economic impact on the city of Austin.
The logistics that go into SXSW are mind-numbing. There are the parking issues, hotels are booked full months in advance, restaurants operate round-the-clock, police staffing is increased, amongst other contingencies put in effect to successfully manage over 50,000 non-natives who converge on the city. Given that over 200 clubs and stages must operate simultaneously, it’s a great time of year for Austin-based and neighboring Texan sound companies. For one week in March every sound engineer is busy 24 hours a day, having been booked sometimes as far as a year in advance. The same goes for the rental business; try to find a mobile P.A. in Austin during SXSW. Rental company warehouses are empty, often with 100% of their stock out on jobs.
With so many venues operating simultaneously and a proliferation of talented acts from around the world performing, the quality of a venue’s sound system becomes paramount. If a patron doesn’t like the quality of sound they’ll simply walk next door. And venue owners can’t afford that; if they lose bodies to bad sound, they don’t sell alcohol, which negatively affects their bottom line.
That being the case, Austin venue owners and operators are very particular about the quality of sound. Thus, it’s only fitting that Austin is an Electro-Voice town, and has become steadily more so from year to year.
Although following a bit behind the cultural zeitgeist noticed by countless other industries, in 2004 Electro-Voice recognized the indisputable SXSW cultural phenomenon and took an active role in making sure that Electro-Voice became the premiere pro audio brand in Austin, Texas. Offering limited sponsorships to a handful of clubs, in 2004 Electro-Voice began its campaign make the EV logo ubiquitous in Austin. Now, in 2007, Electro-Voice marks its fourth year of activity at SXSW. The EV, Dynacord, Klark Teknik, and Midas logos have become even more inseparable with the Austin landscape, as EV’s James Edlund, Josh Bartunek and volunteer EV street-team music czar Dave Wolfe photographed, interviewed, and caught on video the innumerable musical acts and venues that utilized Electro-Voice, Dynacord, Klark Teknik, and Midas equipment. The ad hoc crew cruised the city and documented the real world use of the company’s products “in the trenches“. What follows is a glimpse into the world of SXSW rock “n’ roll venues. Without a doubt, the brands are pervasive! Stay tuned for a 2007 SXSW EVTV special currently in the works!
Headhunters, a Tiki/Polynesian-themed rock club, kept crowds partying like fiends into the wee hours with a total EV/Dynacord sound system. Comprised of (2) EV Zx5 loudspeakers, a Dynacord PowerMate 1000 mixer, EV N/D967, Cobalt, and EV Blue mics, the relatively small system was more than accurate in terms of coverage and intelligibility. From EV endorsers Lonesome Spurs to the Hillbilly Hellcats and a Eugene Records and Rockabilly Magazine/Pabst Blue Ribbon showcase, Headhunters featured a number of no-holds-barred bands throughout the week. A favorite of celebrities including Quentin Tarrantino, the bar has also become “Home to the Texas Roller Derby“. At any point of the day - from noon to 3 a.m. - lines formed in front of both the front room and patio entrance, as the club was consistently packed to capacity. The bar’s FOH engineer Billy Milano (also lead singer of S.O.D. and M.O.D.) remarks: “The EV and Dynacord stuff sounds really great. And the mics take a real beating. It’s the perfect gear for our stages; there’s nothing better.“
Another infamous music venue in Austin, The Continental Club, rated “Critic’s Choice“ for “Best Bars in America“ by Playboy in 2000, once again relied on EV products during SXSW 2007. From the venerable N/D967 vocal mics, EV RE510 vocal mics, as well as N/D468s, N/D478s, N/D868s, and assorted other EV mics on drums, guitar, and bass, the Continental Club rocked hard with EV. Of course, Electro-Voice Cobalt mics were also a huge hit! From Detroit’s Gore Gore Girls to southern troubadour Scott H. Biram to guitar-slinger Ian Moore, there was much to talk about at the Continental during SXSW. Note: The album art for Junior Brown’s new The Austin Experience: Live at the Continental Club was photographed at the Continental. If features Junior singing into an EV N/D967. The N/D967 was also used as the primary mic for the main vocals on the recording!
Kevin Lemoine at the Continental Club (Main sound engineer with Green Day, Black Crowes, Reverend Horton Heat, Sum 41, Warped Tour, etc.) is duly impressed with EV microphones, finding the Co9/Co7 easier to handle, for some vocal applications than the N/D967. Kevin remarks: “I’m from the old school of less is more. The less a microphone is colored, the more you can work with it from a drive position. If you have a female vocal of someone with a deep voice like Red Volkart, it highlights both styles equally. Good mics.“ The Continental Club uses the N/D967 exclusively for vocals when Kevin is not at the helm. When Kevin is at FOH, suffice to say that he’s got his EV Cobalts out!
Bobby Ed, sound engineer for the Continental Club and guitar player for one of Austin’s biggest bands, Honky, has a love affair with EV mics. “They’re electric VIAGRA® for the ladies“. Again, EV mics have become this engineer’s favorite.
When talking Austin clubs, who doesn’t think of the great American roadhouse home of the austere star-in-oval logo reminiscent of Lone Star Beer and Jerry Jeff Walker - and trademark defenders Lukenbach? That’s right, we’re talking the legendary watering hole Beerland, one of Austin’s most renowned clubs. Also featuring a complete selection of EV microphones, Beerland kept crowds happy with great EV sound, lots of cold suds, and performers like Deerhoof, Harlan T. Bobo and the Goodnight Loving.
Randall Stockton, owner of Beerland remarks: “EV microphones provide the performance and durability that Beerland requires. The Cobalt mics stand up to the abuse punk bands dish out better than any of their competitors, even the more expensive ones. And they sound great. Thanks EV!“
Billy Hankey, soundman for Beerland: “The mics really withstand the punishment of a punk rock venue. When the Reatrards played at Beerland, the singer proceeded to throw the mic stand with mic still attached against a brick wall on the back of the stage and to tell the truth, EV mics withstand that kind of treatment. He then picked up the same mic, put it in his mouth and sang. These mic really hold up to the test of punk rock insanity. My mics get thrown against the brick wall, wood wall, and concrete floors on a continual basis and they continue to work. Way to go EV! You have created a durable mic that doesn’t sound like you’re running everything through a megaphone. Now, if only you could install an anti-suck switch on my console, my life would be that much easier! “
We give our shout out to all-around-good-guys, music lovers, and civil disobedients Randall Stockton and Billy Hankey! Keep the EV freak flag flying!
Another club that features tons of Electro-Voice equipment is Emo’s Austin, located just off 6th Street on Red River. On any given night you will find some of the best bands and the most colorful staff and patrons in all of Austin at this bar.
Emo’s sports two stages, one inside and one outside, as well as a beer garden. Both stages feature either EV T Series or Zx Series speakers as well as all EV microphones. More than just about any club in Austin, for one week in March Emo’s becomes home to the coolest record label parties during SXSW. This year Emo’s featured compelling bills for mainstay labels Kill Rock Stars, 4AD, Yep Roc 1, and Daptone. Performers included Blonde Redhead, The Mountain Goats, Doyle Bramhall, Jim Lauderdale, John Doe, Los Straightjackets, Jello Biafra, Mojo Nixon, Meat Puppets, The Walkmen, The Gossip, Youth Brigade, and Manchester’s punk rock/post punk legends, the Buzzcocks. Buzzcocks vocalist/guitarist Pete Shelley was so impressed with the N/D967 vocal microphone that he inquired about it and asked for an EV artist endorsement, something the band has historically been quite opposed to.
Canvas Bar and Gallery
The Canvas Bar and Gallery, located just around the bend from the bedlam of 6th street, offered a more sophisticated vibe to the wall-to-wall clubs in the music district’s center. Home of the Culture Catch Salon, conceived and operated by former Creem magazine editor Mark Petracca, the venue offers crystal clear audio and a second story stage that makes use of the club’s awesome sightlines. The club’s system features EV Zx5 loudspeakers, EV CP series power amps, Sb122 subs, an ACOne processor, Midas Venice 240 mixing console, and all EV microphones. Performers throughout the SXSW week included Alexi Murdoch, Gods and Monsters (featuring Gary Lucas, guitarist with now defunct Captain Beefheart, Jerry Harrison formerly of The Modern Lovers and Talking Heads, Billy Ficca formerly of Television, Ernie Brooks formerly of The Modern Lovers, and Jason Candler), Oppenheimer, Sixgun Republic, and Karima Francis. The club was a locus of activity and definitely a place to be seen as many celebrities were noted amongst the thousands of music and art lovers that crossed the club’s threshold over the week.
RedGorilla Music Fest: Chuggin’ Monkey, Darwin’s Pub and Touche
The Chuggin’ Monkey was created by three guys (two brothers and one friend) united by their love of the “good life“. After extensive research (sunburns and hangovers, I’m told) in the Virgin Islands, many different entertainments districts, and countless New Year’s Eve and Mardi Gras celebrations, the three came up with the Chuggin’ Monkey.
As the headquarters for this year’s RedGorilla Music Fest during SXSW, Chuggin’ Monkey relies heavily on its audio quality to retain customers. Comprised of a mezzanine, a two-level courtyard in the back, and booths in the front, the club is designed to make the most of its premium location for walk-in traffic. The club’s sound system is definitely at the top of the pack for all the systems on 6th street. The system comprises a Dynacord COBRA 2 system (3 tops, 2 subs, and an Xa4000 amp), (4) Px1122M Electro-Voice Phoenix monitors, and (2) Electro-Voice CP4000 power amplifiers. Electro-Voice microphones are employed top-to-bottom on the stage and Klark Teknik DN100 DI boxes handle all direct stage inputs. During SXSW 2007 RedGorilla’s Kevin Sinclair and EV’s Josh Bartunek ran FOH from a Midas Venice 320 console replete with Klark Teknik Square One Dynamics and Graphics.
Likewise, next door at Darwin’s Pub, also home to the RedGorilla music fest, a similar system is employed. The Darwin’s Pub system features all Electro-Voice Phoenix full-range and subwoofer speakers: (2) Px1122 monitors, (1) Px2152, (2) Px2122, and (2) Px2182. Electro-Voice CP Series power amplifiers provide more than enough headroom as (4) CP4000 and (1) CP2200 amps are put to task. Electro-Voice microphones and Klark Teknik DI’s handle all instrumentation and vocals. A Midas Venice 320 and Klark Teknik Square One Graphics and Dynamics are employed for all FOH duties.
Over the years, some of the hottest up-and-coming acts in the world have been showcased by RedGorilla Music Fest. As a result, RedGorilla Music Fest has received international media attention and a reputation for being the showcase for new music. Showcasing acts have included: Family Force 5 (Maverick), Dropping Daylight (Octone), Luna Halo (American), Bang Bang Bang (Warner Bros.), The Colour (EMI/Rethink), The Silent Years (No Alternative), Ligion (Maple Jam/ICON), Red Monroe (3 Concentric), The Muckrakers (Label X/Toucan Cove/Universal), FLOREZ, The Parlour Boys, Year Long Disaster, Radiant, Absent Star, The Hero Factor, The Gaskets and many more…
Also on 6th Street, Touche is a bit more glamorous than the clubs that immediately surround it. Known for their flair bartenders and the kind of histrionics made popular by Tom Cruise in Cocktail, audio plays a special part in an experience steeped in glitz, fashion, attitude, and bling.
The Touche system comprises (2) Electro-Voice Force i full-range loudspeakers, (2) Force i subs, (2) Force i 25, (3) Force i monitors, a Midas Venice 320 and Klark Teknik Square One Graphics and Dynamics. Electro-Voice microphones, as usual, are employed throughout.
As sister venue of the world-famous Viper Room in Los Angeles, Austin’s Viper Room is no less impressive. Like the L.A. venue, Austin’s Viper Room is EV top-to-bottom. FOH and monitors are Electro-Voice QRx loudspeakers and the venerable Midas Venice 320 can be found at FOH. Patrons are rarely surprised to find such musical celebrities as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lenny Kravitz, Pearl Jam, Iggy Pop, Sheryl Crow, as well as an array of other internationally-established artists and the cult favorites of America’s underground at the venue.
Ernie Ball Mobile Stage
A marvel of modern engineering and good old-fashioned elbow grease, the Ernie Ball mobile stage is kind of like a Ripley’s Believe it or Not exhibit. Folks are drawn to the attraction of what’s inside. Designed by engineers Ryan McClain and Dan Norton, the Ernie Ball mobile stage has survived 9 North American tours including annual summer Warped Tours and SXSW festivals.
For SXSW 2007, the two-man crew of head engineer Ryan McClain and assistant engineer Jason Holderness logged 1600 miles in 3 days to get to the SXSW and another 1600 miles in 2 days to get back to Ernie Ball HQ.
Featuring a full complement of Electro-Voice, Dynacord, Klark Teknik, and Midas products, the Ernie Ball mobile stage comprises: (1) Verona 320 mixing console (FOH and monitors); (8) EV P3000 power amplifiers; (4) EV X-Line subs; (4) EV Xn X-Array full-range loudspeakers; (6) EV QRx-115/75 loudspeakers (monitors); EV Cobalt Co9, Co4, N/D868, N/D468, and Re200 microphones; Klark Teknik Square One Dynamics; Klark Teknik DN504 comp/expander; Klark Teknik DN360 EQ for monitors; Klark Teknik DN370 for FOH; and a Klark Teknik DN6000 audio analyzer.
Sound guru McClain remarks: “Everything went great. It was definitely a rebel-pirate kind of thing. We did 32 bands in 4 days and everything went off without a hitch. Always a flawless performance with EV. The system sounds amazing.“
Band highlights included Eisley, Mutemath, The Hush Sounds, As Tall As Lions, No More Kings, and MXPX.
Other Quotes from People that Matter in Austin During SXSW
“I was very impressed by these mics. Thy sound huge on drums without being “hyped’. Very natural and smooth with great bottom.“ - Danny Stapleton, Adult Swim Sound
“I just had a great feeling singing through it. It was warm and tough at the same time.“ - Lynn Blakey, of Tres Chicas, (www.treschicas.org)
“Sounds very clean to me. The sound at The Continental Club is so much better now that the EV mics are here.“ - Ian Moore, (www.ianmoore.com)
“I don’t know much about mics, but they sound very realistic.“ - Collen, of Ian Moore’s band
“These mics are very futuristic. I like them, but they are tailor-made to rip out the facial hair on my chin. So just remember I’m in pain up here.“ - Scott McCaughet, instrumentalist with The Minus 5, R.E.M., Young Fresh Fellows
“Very good mics.“ - The Mooners
“These mics sound great and warm.“ - Cheater Slicks, Memphis
“They work real good.“ - The Reatards, Memphis
“The sound is warmer than most and I really enjoy the way this bands sounds more here.“ - Forrest Rogness
“It sounds fantastic up here.“ - The Gore Gore Girls, www.goregoregirls.com
“EV mic, very good.“ - The Guitar Wolf, www.guitarwolf.net
“EV rocks! Love the new mics!“ - Nashville Pussy, www.nashvillepussy.com
“The Continental Club sounds better than ever. Very cool.“ - Dave Gonzales of The Paladins
“Love the new EV’s! Can you hook us up with a sponsorship? We love EV!“ - Captain Sean-Doe of Throw Rag
“There is no other mic in the world for us. It’s all about the EV.“ - The Black Irish, www.theblackirish.com