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SoulFest Tells It On the Mountain With MILO and MILO 120
The idyllic Lincoln, N.H., outdoor ski resort of Loon Mountain has been the site for the last seven years of SoulFest, New England's premier Christian music event, promoted by New Sound Concerts. This year, Rainbow Concert Productions of Hampstead, N.H., gave attendees of the four-day rock festival a treat, bringing the music to the crowd through a sound system based around 24 Meyer Sound MILO high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers.
According to Scott Tkachuk, Rainbow's crew chief and systems tech for the show, the main Revival Stage featured 10 MILO cabinets plus two MILO 120 expanded coverage high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers per side. Headline acts on the stage included Stephen Curtis Chapman, Audio Adrenaline, Rebecca St. James, Newsboys, Jars of Clay, and Third Day.
Tkachuk relates that the new MILO 120 systems, with their 120-degree horizontal by 20-degree vertical coverage pattern, made the planned front fill redundant. "I did have UPAs (UPA-1P) for front fills," he says, "but with the barricade and the stage thrust out so much I just didn't need them because of the 120s."
Even when a potential problem cropped up on the setup day prior to SoulFest's opening, the system was up to the challenge. "They had scrims in front of the PA, but they dropped the ball," Tkachuk notes. "Usually with the scrims you want to keep it at 60 percent blow-through. But they painted them!" As a consequence, blow-through was less than 50 percent, possibly as low as 30 percent. "I told them that this might really screw up the sound, but I was amazed. The MILOs just blew right through it. I goosed the high end up a little bit, added some parametric EQ, and replaced some of the sizzle that was missing. It was great — I couldn't believe it."
The FOH engineers for the headline acts on the Revival Stage were pleased to see — and hear — the Meyer Sound system. "All the big engineers who came in were very relieved," Tkachuk recalls. "The minute they put in their CD they'd just shake my hand and walk away. Not one engineer thought about going to the graphic [equalizer] during the whole festival. It was very pleasurable, and made my week very easy."
Rainbow supplied two Midas Heritage 3000 mixing consoles, one at front of house and one mixing stage monitors, for the headliners. A Yamaha PM4000 (FOH) and a PM4000M (monitors) was provided for what Tkachuk refers to as the "festival acts" opening the bill.
It has been such a busy summer for Rainbow, who also installed two large Meyer Sound rigs for the season in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, that Tkachuk did not even get the chance to work with Rainbow's new 700-HP ultrahigh-power subwoofers. "We get a lot of summer installs," he notes. "We've got a full Meyer install at the Cape Cod Melody Tent (in Hyannis, Mass.): a 16-box M2D rig with four UPA-1s and some 700-HPs. (The 700-HPs) are going to come back after the summer, and then, hopefully I'll get to use them."
Rainbow has provided SoulFest's sound system for nearly its entire existence and it's a job Tkachuk clearly enjoys, saying "There's nothing else like this in the Northeast. The promoters, New Sound Concerts, are very pleasurable to work with."
SoulFest has grown over its seven-year history, and has now outgrown its present location. Next year, SoulFest will move to the larger Gunstock ski resort in Gilford, N.H. "The first year, it was a little stage with two audio guys and one lighting person. Probably about 2,500 to 3,000 people showed up for a two-day event," recalls Tkachuk. This year, he says, "they maxed-out on the Saturday when they had the biggest bands. They had close to 19,000 people. They always have a solid 12,000, which is a perfect number for a venue of that size. When the headliners are on, the whole side of the mountain is just packed. It's pretty cool."
Tkachuk's greatest enthusiasm was reserved for the system's fidelity and consistency. "The MILOs and MILO 120s complemented each other perfectly, giving the whole system a very 'hi-fi' sound. And it sounded that way night after night; it was just such a pleasure to listen to it."