L-Acoustics rig powers NYC’s Global Citizen Festival

Firehouse Productions recently provided the fifth annual Global Citizen Festival (GCF) in New York City’s Central Park with an L-Acoustics K1/K2 PA system for its stage on the Great Lawn, where 60,000 concert-goers were in attendance.

Broadcast live on MSNBC in late-September, the event featured headliners Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Ellie Goulding, Metallica, Demi Lovato, Major Lazer and many others sharing their voices and music to help reduce world hunger, poverty and other pandemic social issues.

Visitors also got to see guest appearances by Usher, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Yandel, Yusuf/Cat Stevens and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, creative director and curator of the festival, which is organised by the Global Poverty Project.

According to Firehouse system tech Jamie Pollock, “I had not done this show in previous years, and it already had a format, so when I got involved I tried not to shuffle things up too much. However, I knew that I wanted to use L-Acoustics products to take advantage of their long throw benefits and overall consistency that they can deliver for such a large-scale event.

“The main hang was 14 K1 with four K1-SBs above, on each side. We had 24 of the new KS28 subs set up as a line in the centre and an additional 16 SB28s used for the sides, plus 12 KARA in three stacks of four as front fill in the centre. The delays were all K2; we had two lines of delays that were 12 boxes per hang for a total of 48 K2s.”

The production was both demanding and challenging, as Pollock explains. “We were limited to where we could put things on the Great Lawn and had to work within those guidelines," he said. "The PA was carefully calculated in Soundvision before installation, and when performing the system tuning onsite, I found my measurements translated nicely to what had been predicted. The system tools in LA Network Manager are invaluable and offer a resolution that helped me deliver very even homogenous coverage.

"One of the biggest challenges that I faced was that the front-of-house position had to be set way off-axis due to the sensitivity of putting things on the lawn. This position was not ideal, but with the help of additional stacks of SB28s set wider we were able to specifically focus more energy to this area and help the engineers translate their mixes better.”

The set design, which accommodated both the needs of the television broadcast as well as the positioning of massive IMAG video screens on either side of the stage for the audience, was both a help and a hindrance.

“The main hangs had to be spaced very wide apart because of the set, which resulted in a small hole in coverage in the center of the audience," explained Pollock. "There was also a large amount of space between the downstage edge and barricade line for an access road and TV elements. This space helped me in achieving optimum placement for the Kara stacks to fill the center area, and also allowed me to keep the main PA flatter to achieve a more constant SPL throughout the array.”