One Republic 2017 Tour

by Steve Jennings (Photos & Text)
in Production Profile
From left, Kyle Fletcher (P.A. tech), Dave McMullin (monitor engineer), Trey Smith (FOH engineer), Sean Henry (crew chief/system engineer) and Cory Benson (monitor tech). Photos by Steve Jennings
From left, Kyle Fletcher (P.A. tech), Dave McMullin (monitor engineer), Trey Smith (FOH engineer), Sean Henry (crew chief/system engineer) and Cory Benson (monitor tech). Photos by Steve Jennings

New Digital Tools Help the Crew Recreate Album Nuances for the Live Shows

OneRepublic wrapped up their headlining slot on the 16th annual Honda Civic Tour, joining a long list of other headliners that began with Blink-182 and Everclear in 2001. Since then, this tour’s other headline acts over the years have included Maroon 5 (2005), Panic! At the Disco (2008), Linkin Park (2012) and One Direction (2015).

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

Joined on most shows by opening acts Fitz & The Tantrums, James Arthur, or both, the tour kicked off July 7 in Kansas City and concluded a U.S./Canada 44-show run on Sept. 12 in The Woodlands, TX, a show that went on despite the need for that venue to cancel or postpone other shows in September in the wake of the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. From Sept. 15 to 27, the band and tour headed off to Asia, wrapping up the summer trek with six more concerts staged in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai.

Along with the audio gear for this tour, rental company VER also supplied the tour’s lighting and video, working with a creative team that included Raj Kapoor, Mark Butts and Stuart Merser (See related story in PLSN, Sept. 2017, page 30). A clean look was a priority for this tour, and the setup included flown subs tucked behind the mains to augment that visual aesthetic.

The audio and visual design were tightly integrated. OneRepublic photo by Steve Jennings

With a wide range of venue sizes, the production scaled up and down as needed, and the audio crew worked to ensure that every fan in every venue could hear the same nuances for every song that could be heard by listening to the band’s albums.

FRONT of HOUSE crossed paths with FOH engineer Trey Smith and monitor engineer Dave McMullin when they performed at the 12,500-capacity Concord Pavilion amphitheater in Concord, CA, one of three Northern California dates on the tour, and got their take on how they strived to give the fans exactly what they wanted to hear, working also with the other production departments to produce a cohesive, tightly-integrated show experience.

Trey Smith, FOH engineer. Photo by Steve Jennings

Trey Smith
FOH Engineer

“This is my first tour mixing for OneRepublic on the DiGiCo SD5. Due to our channel count, we couldn’t go any lower than the 5, also I love the surface layout. I use the macros on nearly every song so having them located in the center of the console makes workflow very quick, so overall it’s worked out very nicely for this tour.

“I’m floating around 145 inputs between stage, playback, talkbacks and effects. I actually only have a L&R output for my house mix. However, besides my mix and distributing talkbacks to some of the crew, I’m sending a series of outputs via copy audio to our video director Stu Merser over the Optocore network. He receives a sub group of inputs from each band member, along with kick, snare and an overall band mix. This enables Stu to do live audio reactive video manipulation within the new video effects engine called Video Dust. Copy audio makes this all happen, which is just one of the many reasons why DiGiCo is the choice for this tour.”

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

Smith opted for redundant Waves Extreme servers.

“I’m running Multi Rack on a Mac Mini versus onboard the SD5. This allows the console to not be bogged down running Multi Rack. I’m running about 60 active racks, which consist of input and output channel processing as well as effects. Several racks are only used for particular songs to recreate sounds from the albums. Using Waves makes it possible to take the exact same plug-ins and settings used when mixing the album and have the same sounds at our live shows. The new music OneRepublic is releasing involves some ‘DJ tricks’…. high and low passes on the band mix, side chaining, etc. We use various OneKnob series plug-ins to create these effects live.

“As far as outboard gear, I have two Bricasti M7’s for singer Ryan (Tedder) vocal effects, four Distressors for parallel drum compression and a Neve 5045 on his vocal. I have MIDI commands sending program changes to the Bricasti to allow for custom settings on each song.”

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

When beginning to craft the sound of a band, Smith says he always looks to what’s coming off of the stage before trying to compensate with EQ and compression, etc., at FOH.

“Fortunately, OneRepublic is a great band, and they provide some amazing inputs to me at FOH. We have an incredible group of backline techs — Clint, Brian, Josiah and Paul — on Playback. We take a lot of time as a team to craft our sounds, everything from dialing in drum tones with proper tuning to editing playback tracks as needed to ensure the right sound for the live show. When mixing, I typically try to keep things as simple as possible. However, due to the amount of channels and complexity of some songs, it requires me to use snapshots for each song. The snapshots automate fader and mute changes along with effects preset changes. The snapshots are very powerful on DiGiCo, allowing me to do nearly anything that’s needed.”

VER provided d&b J8’s, J12’s, J-Subs and J-Infra components. OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

As noted, VER provided lighting and video along with the sound system, centered on d&b audiotechnik’s J Series. The box count and configuration changes to fit each venue’s audio needs.

“The customer support from VER has been amazing. Kyle Shepherd has taken great care of our team. For this tour, we are using d&b J’s. We have 12 J8’s and four J12’s a side along with six J-Subs flown directly behind the main arrays. For side hangs, we have eight J8’s a side.

“Because of the seating layout in sheds, we use two ‘fat stacks’ a side for ground subs. Each fat stack consists of a J-Infra on the bottom with two J-Subs stacked on top. In arenas, we do a sub array, spreading out the J-Subs and J-Infras across the front of the stage to create a more even sub coverage. The P.A. is powered by D80 amplifiers.

OneRepublic tour photo by Steve Jennings. Pictured here, the playback rig.

“I’ve been used d&b for several years, and it’s my first choice when selecting a P.A. d&b also provided great support to our team with training on Array Processing. This application was vital to create even coverage and provide consistent sound, show-to-show.

“We have a great audio team on this tour. Sean Henry is our audio crew chief and system engineer. Sean and P.A. Tech, Kyle Fletcher, do an amazing job handling the P.A. system each show, making my job as FOH engineer very smooth. Also, a shout out to [Mark] Zito, our production manager, who used to mix OneRepublic before I came onboard. He was very helpful in integrating me into the camp and position.”

Dave McMullin, Monitor Engineer. Photo by Steve Jennings

Dave McMullin
Monitor Engineer

“Currently I am running about 130 input channels. About 80 of those are either direct from the stage (drums, guitars, keys) or wireless from monitor world (vocals, lead acoustic, etc.). Thirty-eight channels are digital over MADI from our playback rig. These are a combination of playback (tracks) as well as piano modules and virtual instruments triggered via MIDI from stage. Also included in the MADI stream are talkbacks to band and crew, as well as the playback IEM mix.

“All of our wireless inputs come in digitally. Lead vocal Axient is via AES, while wireless band vocals and direct instruments are over Dante. All in all, I am using 48 outputs between mix outputs, FX sends, and Matrix routing.

“We are utilizing two DiGiCo Orange boxes. One interfaces our playback rig, the other our video world. Both are loaded with BNC-MADI and Optocore DMI cards.

“Our video director, Stu Merser, uses a Behringer X32 Rack with MADI card to integrate with our system. We’re currently using 27 of the 32 channels of audio in both directions to feed him band sub groups, record, SMPTE, and talkbacks.”

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings

McMullin says he is not running any outboard gear other than redundant Waves Extreme servers. He’s also a fan of that company’s Primary Source Expander plug-in to reduce stage bleed and feedback.

“My plug-in load is pretty light, as I typically use the ‘less is more’ approach. With playback via MADI, bass and guitar through Kempers, and vocals via AES and Dante, inputs are remarkably clean and transparent. Having such a great starting point means letting the inputs speak for themselves, and not having to process things to make them sound ‘right.’

“There is a lead vocal chain comprised of a C-6, API 550A, and an API 2500. I have a handful of verbs on vocals, as well as drums and nylon guitar.

“One thing that I have come to like is the PSE (Primary Source Expander). We have a relatively quiet stage, but there will always be bleed. Funny enough, I have been using it on glockenspiel. We have a glock that is downstage right, about 15 feet in front of our bass cabinets. The bass rig tends to wash out the glock mics, muddying up mixes and overtaking the sound of the instrument itself. PSE keeps the bleed from the bass rig out of the mixes and is much smoother than using a gate.”

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings. Pictured, the keyboard setup.

McMullin notes that the tour’s playback rig is “a little more complicated than just playing some tracks. It really is the nerve center for our show.”

“There are three Mac minis, one each for redundant Ableton-Live playback and one for virtual instruments. We take MIDI from three iConnectivity ICM4+ pods onstage that feed into the playback rig via Cat-5 to control VST’s and the Muse Receptors. Those pods take MIDI information from the drum trigger module, and various keyboards and the main piano. Every drum onstage has a trigger on it feeding into a Roland TD-30 module. Depending on the song, or even a verse or chorus, the key and drum sounds can change.

“Everything from the playback rig is digital the whole way, until it outputs from our consoles. We utilize two Antelope Orions and a RME Madiface XT to output a 56-channel MADI stream containing all tracks, key sounds, drum samples, and playback talkbacks. There is an Antelope Audio OCX HD that provides word clock sync to the rig, as well as both of our consoles and all devices on the Optocore loop. Our playback engineer also outputs MIDI commands to trigger macros in my SD5 so that he can talk to specific band members or crew as needed.

“I carry a TTi PSA 2702 Spectrum Analyzer. Without that and Professional Wireless’ IAS, RF coordination for the tour would be a tall order. I coordinate for us as well as the openers. Between everything, it ends up being about 95 frequencies coordinated per day, including spares.

“We recently switched to 64 Audio A18 for our IEMs. Quite honestly the best monitors I have ever heard. They are akin to having reference monitors for in-ears. From a mixing standpoint, it is great to have something so transparent and linear to mix into. There is a tremendous amount of space in which to place things.”

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings. Pictured, Dave McMullin’s monitor setup, which included a DiGiCo SD5.

Trey suggested using the KSM313 ribbon mic for the bottom of the snare drum at the beginning of the tour, McMullin adds.

“I like it a lot; it’s warm and smooth. The drum kit also includes a SM57 (on snare top), a Shure Beta 91A (inside of the kick drum) and a Telefunken M82 (outside). We are using Pintech triggers mounted to the bottom of each drum Tom specifically to key gates. These are in addition to the Roland triggers for MIDI. Cymbals are miked with four Shure SM181s, one each SL, Center, and SR, with an additional on the ride. Overheads are Mojave Audio MA-201s. I had never heard of them until I started mixing for OneRepublic, as they were already in use. I have to say that they have become my favorite for overheads. At times with overheads, it can be a struggle to capture the feel of the kit as a whole. Instead, you usually get a lot of brightness or harshness from the cymbals and a little tonality from the remainder of the kit. With the Mojaves, you truly hear the kit in its entirety.”

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings. Pictured, the SL guitar rack setup.

Stage left guitarist Zach Filkins has been using Fractal Axe-Fx for some time now, notes McMullin.

“We had been just taking stereo XLRs directly off the back of the units, and he had a couple of amps on stage for feel. After playing around with several amps during some down time, he wanted to have the tone of the amps be the driver for his sounds. There are four amps in his rig, each one modeled after a different classic amp. To keep things as consistent and clean as possible, we are utilizing Palmer DI’s mounted in each of the amps. Depending on the song, the amps will end up in varying stereo configurations, one song might be amp A-left, B-right, while another may be B-left, D-right. The guitar rig also takes MIDI from playback to control patch changes during and in between songs.

“Our keyboard player, Brian [Willett], is quite integral to the sound of the show. There are many sounds that were produced in the studio that are essential parts of songs. As such, he has quite a complement of keyboards and synths to accomplish this live.

OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder with Telefunken M80 for vocals. 2017 photo by Steve Jennings

“In order to preserve some sanity with input numbers, most of the keyboard rig is sub-mixed via a small, Yamaha mixer. If we were to take each keyboard as a discrete input, it would up our channel count by another 10 channels. Normally, this would not be a big deal, but the band does a fair number of international one-offs. We carry all of our gear, audio and backline for these shows. Having these sub-mixed allows us to fit into [DiGiCo] SD10s for those fly dates.

“The other thing the mixer allows is the integration of effects loops. Brian is using some of the mix busses on the Yamaha to send signal to a number of reverb and other effects pedals.”

“Just want to mention Cory Benson, my monitor tech. With as much as there is going onstage, he keeps everything straight and sane for Trey and myself. Almost more important is the comic relief he provides for the crew, which is much needed during some of those crazy travel days.”

OneRepublic Bass and Cello Tech Brian Carroll. 2017 photo by Steve Jennings

OneRepublic 2017 Tour

Crew

  • Sound Company: VER
  • FOH Engineer: Trey Smith
  • Monitor Engineer: Dave McMullin
  • Crew Chief/System Engineer: Sean Henry
  • P.A. Tech: Kyle Fletcher
  • Monitor Tech: Cory Benson
  • Production Manager: Zito
  • Tour Manager: Mark Oglesby
  • VER Account Manager: Kyle Shepherd

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings


Gear

  • P.A. System: d&b audiotechnik
  • Mains:  d&b J8 (12 per side), d&b J12
    (4 per side), J-Subs (6 per side)
  • Side Hangs: d&b J8 (8 per side)
  • Ground Subs: J-Subs, J-Infra (Two “fat stacks” per side for sheds, each w/
    2 J-Subs stacked on a J-Infra).
  • Amps: D80


FOH

  • Console: DiGiCo SD5
  • Outboard/Processing: 2 Bricasti M7s w/M10 remote, 4 Empirical Labs EL8 Distressors, 1 Neve 5045, 2 Waves Extreme servers, 1 Novation Launch Control, 1 DiGiCo SD-Mini Rack,
    3 Lake LM44s


MON

  • Console: DiGiCo SD5
  • Speakers/IEMs: Meyer Sound MJF-210 wedges, Porter & Davies Drum Throne, 64 Audio A18 IEM’s, Shure AXT400, AXT600, PSM1000, ULX-D systems
  • Outboard/Processing: 2 Waves
    Extreme Servers, 2 DiGiCo Orange Boxes, 2 DiGiCo SD-Racks
  • Mics: Telefunken M80 capsules
  • RF: TTi PSA 2702 spectrum analyzer, Professional Wireless IAS

OneRepublic 2017 tour photo by Steve Jennings