Arkells – Hamilton, ON

Well well well,

Now that I’ve finally caught up on my sleep, I can now relive what I truly consider to be probably one of the best Arkells shows I’ve done. We all knew when the show was booked that it stood to truly be a memorable show.

I think it was The Smashing Pumpkins who said it best (from The Simpsons’ Homerpalooza episode):

Chamberlin: The hometown show’s the big one, Homer.
Iha: Yeah, people who called you a weirdo in high school get to see what a successful freak you’ve become. [James Iha points to D’Arcy]
D’Arcy: Hey, I wasn’t a weirdo. I was in the audio-visual club.

Anyway, so we all knew that the expectations were high leading into this show, and I felt a little bit of extra stress because of it.

The show was in The Hamilton Convention Centre – in the Chedoke Room on the third floor. The great thing about this room is that there are no pillars in the middle, but the down-side is that you have to “ground-support” the entire system. What this means, is when you go to a concert and notice that everything is hanging from the ceiling (aka “flown”), that means there are rigging points in the venue that allow the concert production to hang from. This room did not have these rigging points, so we had to put everything on the floor and raise it up with lifts.

This does require a little more work, but we worked out a pretty good system that wasn’t too unsightly for the majority of the audience. There were the masts of the on-stage lifts, but having the show in this room as opposed to the Wentworth Room meant that there weren’t any pillars in the middle of the floor, giving better sightlines overall.

20120125-215937.jpg Thankfully when we put our heads together about what audio / lighting company to use for this show, we opted to use Hamilton’s Soundbox Productions. They’re an excellent company that I chose for a couple of reasons: First off, they’re from Hamilton. I like using local companies when possible to not only support local companies and stage techs, but there’s the obvious added bonus in saved trucking expenses. Secondly, they happen to carry my favourite brand of PA system which is L-Acoustics.

We brought in their new Kara rig, and paired it with their SB18 subwoofers. We had 9x Kara per side, and 12x SB18, in a line across the front of the stage: 2 high, 6 wide. The PA Systems tech from Soundbox, Kevin, took care of this and he and I worked together on how to configure the system. I decided to use the front line of subwoofers for one specific reason: comb-filtering. The thing about subs is that when they are deployed as two separate stacks, you can get a lot of comb-filtering.

The top image is sub-bass coming from one subwoofer, and the bottom image illustrates it coming from two separate subwoofers. When you put a bunch of subs together, it acts like it is coming from one large source.

I also used a delay arc in the subs as well, and if you’re still with me on the nerd-front, I can try to explain that too. When you have a long line of subwoofers, the entire wave of sub-bass coming from them travels in a straight line, as they’re all in time with one-another. This is great if you want to keep the bass travelling entirely straight, but I wanted to get some of that sub-bass off to the sides so it would cover the audience a little more evenly. This is where a time-delay comes in.

There’s two ways to ‘arc’ your sub-bass. You can either place your subwoofers in an arc physically, which takes up a lot of space which you typically do not have in a concert due to audience barricade, or you can position them electronically, emulating a physical arc. The way to do this, is calculate how far back you would want certain speakers, and introduce a time delay on those speakers, leaving the other ones without the delay.

If you really want to get your nerd on, read this great article by Jeff Berryman – the man who taught me all of this stuff.

Moving on..

So, once the system was set up, and the band was sound-checked, the merchandise was inventoried and set up for display, we were ready to open the doors. I really wish I had worn a pedometer for this show, because I was on my feet at 8:30am and didn’t stop until 3:30am – it was an exhausting day.  Thankfully everything went without a hitch, and Stumpy did a fantastic job on lights, the system performed up-to and beyond my expectations, the band absolutely killed it, and the audience was fantastic.


Super fun. I wish there was more YouTube footage though! C’mon, people!

After the show was loaded out we went to The Casbah for some post show drinks, and I was able to finally sit down and relax.

What’s Next?

Arkells head east starting in Kingston, Ontario, going all the way out to the Maritimes for shows in Fredericton, Moncton, Charlottetown, Antigonish, and Halifax. We then come back for some more shows in Ontario, and some in USA as well – Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo to name a few.

That brings us to March and SXSW in Austin, TX. I can’t believe how quickly this winter has gone by.

3 responses to “Arkells – Hamilton, ON

  1. amazing show! loved the hometown vibes 🙂 i have lots of great memories in the hamilton convention centre (ie. my mcmaster graduation), so this made the show extra special. i’ll see about uploading what little video i took to youtube.

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