AXIS at the Planet Hollywood resort in Las Vegas has wrapped up a successful four-year Britney Spears residency using DiGiCo live mixing consoles.
The venue, which boasts the highest number of ticket sales in Las Vegas and, most weeks, the highest in the country, opened on the bicentennial weekend, 2 July, 1976 as the Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts with a run of shows by Neil Diamond.
When the old Aladdin hotel was imploded in the late ’90s, the theatre remained, going through a series of facelifts, reboots and name changes before the 2013 remodel and announcement of Britney: Piece of Me.
“When I first came in, this place was raw concrete,” recalled AXIS production supervision and head of audio Eric Fish. “It was not a facelift, it was a full remodel. Everything was redone from the speaker rig to the consoles to everything in the walls and a ton of acoustic treatment.”
In the past four years, the AXIS has become pop central and a model for the idea of residencies by artists best known for international tours, including J-Lo, Backstreet Boys, Lionel Richie and Pitbull. Working alongside Fish on the Britney show is system engineer Julio Valdez, from Vegas-based provider 3G, who reported that the reliability of the DiGiCo platform makes his job easier. “The beauty of the whole platform is that you can move from one DiGiCo surface to another one with very little adjustment.”
The room is regularly driven by some of the top engineers in live audio. Britney is mixed by Rob “Cubby” Colby, Backstreet Boys by Sound Image’s James McCullaugh, J-Lo by John Clark and Lionel Richie by Gordon Mack. All shows use the house SD5 at monitors and an SD10 at FOH except Britney. “Cubby is more comfortable on the SD5 so we bring one in from 3G for those shows.”
Fish added that the platform allows engineers with totally different approaches to all thrive in the same ecosystem. “Cubby uses nothing but the console with no plug-ins or external processing, and at the other extreme is James who is deep into the Waves universe.”
DiGiCo will continue to be a big part of the success of this room for the foreseeable future.
– Eric Fish, AXIS head of audio
Valdez noted – as do many engineers who may have fought moving to digital – that the workflow on the SD consoles is very analogue-like. “We have an extensive Dante system that allows us to do things like pull in various ambient mics from the house and to send audio all over the building. And integrating the consoles was just a case of throwing a Dante card into the console and making those basic connections. The rest was flawless,” he said.
Added Colby: “After 250 shows, 90 rehearsals and numerous live TV broadcasts, DiGiCo delivers on all fronts every day!”
“We’re booked through solid through at least 2018,” Fish concluded. “It’s great, I know my schedule like two years in advance, and DiGiCo will continue to be a big part of the success of this room for the foreseeable future.”
Pictured L-R: AXIS’ Eric Fish, AXIS A2 Norm Smeltzer, monitor engineer Josh Peixoto and AXIS A1 Julio Valdez at Rob “Cubby” Colby’s DiGiCo SD5 FOH desk deployed for Britney: Piece of Me (photo credit: Fred Morledge)