Photo (L-R): Chris King, monitor tech; Jerrell Evans, systems engineer/crew chief; Chad Olech, FOH engineer; Tim Banas, PA tech; Kevin Dennis, monitor engineer; and Katie Hughes, PA tech, at the DiGiCo SD5 FOH console out on Fall Out Boy's current tour (credit: Jack Edinger)
One of the slammin’est tours out this year is “The Boys of Zummer Tour” that pairs rockers Fall Out Boy with rapper Wiz Khalifa, an alchemy that’s been drawing raves for a genres cross-pollination that Billboard called “a night of music and an opportunity to exercise its right to be young, and wild and free,” noting that the band “…came out with all guns blazing, clearly pumped… and owning the audience from the second they launched into their opener ‘Sugar, We’re Goin Down.’” Adding to the excitement is crystal-clear live sound, thanks in large part to a DiGiCo SD5 FOH console, manned by Chad Olech, and a DiGiCo SD10 desk guided by Kevin Dennis for monitors.
Olech, who has mixed FOH for a wide array of major touring artists like Demi Lovato, Robin Thicke, Joe Jonas, Anthrax, Survivor and the Deftones, was new to the DiGiCo SD5 when he went to the tour SR provider Clair Global’s headquarters in Lititz, PA last fall. While there, he asked Clair to set up a shootout between half a dozen consoles, including the SD5, using the Clair i3 cabinets and CP218 subs they’d be using on the tour.
“I’ve been using another manufacturer’s console for the last seven years and it’s a great console functionally, but it often needs some help sonically,” he explains, adding that for this tour he was looking for a desk that’s operationally intuitive but also sounds amazing. The SD5 fulfilled all of those wishes. “The workflow on the SD5 fits the way I work perfectly,” he says. “I like to have everything in the same spot every time. I don’t want to have to think when I mix; I just want to mix. The SD5 lets me do exactly that.”
“For instance,” he continues. “I can have the entire EQ strip in front of me and don’t have to page through to find things. I know exactly where the knobs are; it’s muscle memory. The same goes for the compressors; everything is where I put it and where I want it.”
Olech also has good things to say about the Waves MultiRack, which hosts the dozen or so Waves plug-ins he’s using for the shows, and is far fewer than he’s ever needed before. “I like having some of the Waves stuff here, and the SD5 is set up to integrate them nicely,” he says. “But the SD5 also has a four-band EQ on its inputs, and I’d bet that if I were to just use that, the audience wouldn’t notice the difference. That’s how good the console sounds.”
Monitor mixer Kevin Dennis is equally happy with the DiGiCo SD10 console he’s using. Sonically speaking, the SD10 is “completely transparent—the pre-amps, the EQ, all of it,” says Dennis, who has also mixed monitors for Green Day and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. “There’s no coloration of the sound. A band at this level works very hard to get the tone of its backline exactly right. They don’t want to hear your version of that sound. And I’m a minimalist. I only want what they want to come through back to them. The SD10 lets me do just that.”
Just as importantly, Dennis says, the SD10 has also become a communications hub for the entire operation. “We have an extensive talkback system, with everyone on in-ears, including the techs, and no speakers on the stage,” he explains. “Instead of hand signals, the techs can easily get onto the comms and let me know what they need, or vice versa. It’s all matrixed through the SD10, which makes it very streamlined. And Chad’s connected to this as well since we’re using the same rack and it’s all on fiber.”
This sophisticated comms infrastructure lets the show proceed smoothly, even if bandleader Pete Wentz decides to change up the set list on the spur of the moment. “Everyone’s in the loop, through the consoles,” says Dennis. “Doing that on the fly without it would be way more difficult.”
Finally, he adds, DiGiCo’s tech support has been magnificent. “This tour is going a lot of places and I know when I call DiGiCo with a question, I’ll get an answer or a phone call back within five minutes,” he says. “The support is just top notch. They’ve covered all the bases.”