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The Eastern, Atlanta, GA

George Petersen • InstallationsOctober 2021 • October 11, 2021

An L-Acoustics K2 rig offers plenty of punch. Photo by Fabeaux

New 37,000-foot Performance Venue is the Pride of Atlanta

Atlantans have a long history of supporting the arts — particularly live music, with the success of venues such as the Atlanta Symphony Hall, Cadence Bank Amphitheatre, Center Stage Theater, Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Terminal West, The Fox, The Masquerade, The Tabernacle, Variety Playhouse, and on and on.

Evidently, there’s always room for more — especially when promoters Zero Mile Presents and AEG Presents announced plans several years ago to create The Eastern, a new, state-of-the-art performance venue in the Atlanta Dairies complex in the city’s Reynoldstown neighborhood. The Eastern debuted to a sold-out crowd of 2,300 fans to hear hip-hop legend Big Boi (from Outkast) on Sept. 1, and the facility has been packed ever since.

Built from the ground up, the venue boasts a multi-tiered floorplan with unrivaled sightlines, high-end lighting and a full-on L-Acoustics K2 line array rig. Besides serving as a premiere concert facility, The Eastern can double as a special event space for corporate functions, award shows, galas, weddings, receptions, trade shows, private events and more. As an added bonus, the rooftop features a covered performance space, bar, restaurant and open-air seating.

Early on, Zero Mile Presents and AEG Presents turned to Music Matters Productions (a division of M2 Events Group, Inc.) to handle the integration and design of all audio and lighting systems for the Eastern project. Based in the Atlanta area, MMP is a one-stop event production shop with an extensive product range of high-end audio, video, sound and lighting equipment — and they have a long history of working with Zero Mile and AEG.

MMP crew members James Morris, Grant Robinson, Nick Arminio and Huston Herron prepare to fly the stage right P.A. hang. Photo by Fabeaux.

Inside The Eastern

To gain some perspectives on the project, we spoke to MMP owner/founder Aaron Soriero and MMP director of special projects Nauman Lalani.

“Aaron is more of the visionary and lead production designer — he basically guided us and was very hands-on, choosing the lighting fixtures and P.A.,” says Lalani. “My role was more of the project manager, putting it all together and designing the system, building all the sales quotes and handling purchasing.”

Not surprisingly with any major project happening during the pandemic, there were numerous Covid-related construction delays. But Covid or not, Lalani planned the task methodically.

Yet even with meticulous planning, challenges arose. “There were some air ducts installed that didn’t make it into the Soundvision file that changed some speaker placements, and some cabling issues, where some walls were closed up before we could run cables,” Lalani recalls. “And the building flooded during construction when one of the sprinklers broke. The supply chain was sometimes an issue — for example, we’ve been in show mode for over a month now, and our DMX cables arrived today. But as we’re a rental house, we can easily supplement anything from our inventory.”

The venue opened with an SRO crowd to see hip-hop legend Big Boi. Photo by Fabeaux

Bring on the Sound!

“We started off with quotes from three different sound systems,” Lalani notes. “We selected an L-Acoustics K2 line array rig, and the way it was modeled, we could get 110 dB at front of house from the P.A. with 100 percent of the building covered. There are three tiers, with sets of delays and under-balcony feeds everywhere. The K2 rig is time-aligned so anywhere you are within the viewing areas, you’ll have high-fidelity coverage. And that also includes sightlines, because anywhere you stand in the general admission areas, you see the stage very clearly.”

The mains system has left/right hangs, each with eight L-Acoustics K2s, and three Kara IIs employed as downfills. Along the front of the 56-inch-high, poured concrete stage are eight KS28 dual-18 subwoofers, four on either side, and placed behind the crowd barricades.

“When we were modeling the space, we were also looking at how the system would support a high-energy performance or an EDM show,” Soriero adds, “and the low-end from the eight KS28 subs handled the entire building just fine. We pushed the system pretty hard when we were doing load testing and the volume we can get from the entire K2/KS28 system is tremendous.”

With a 26-foot proscenium opening, the venue is fairly wide, however, the K2’s handled the job with ease. “Early on,” says Lalani, “working with L-Acoustics in Soundvision, we killed the idea of a center fill, as it wasn’t needed. However, the stage left wall extends at a wide angle, which we addressed with the steerable fins on the K2s set at an asymmetrical 35/55-degree angle and some A-15i’s to specifically deal with that.”

All powering is via L-Acoustics amplifiers controlled by an AVB P1 drive processor. Some 12 L-Acoustics X15 coaxial stage wedges are available, along with L-Acoustics SB18 subs for stage and drum fill applications.

No less attention was paid to audience fills, especially in areas where the mains can’t reach. “The 21 under balcony speakers are all L-Acoustics X8s and the delayed third tier speakers are all L-Acoustics A15i,” Lalani says. “There are also two A15s shooting out for outfills.”

Versatility was a key factor, especially given the 6,000 feet of NL4 and 2,000 of NL8 speaker cabling used in the install. “We designed all the cabling throughout the building to be future-proof, so that if someone wants more subs, for example, we just bring in extra cabinets and there are spare NL8 runs and spare shielded Cat-6a runs to every truss, along with cross-stage tie lines,” Lalani explains. “We looked at this from the viewpoint of touring groups. The acceptability on riders was a huge factor and drove a lot of our conversations in terms of gear selection. We have Avid S6L-24 consoles — for FOH and monitors, with a Waves Extreme rack. The smaller 24 versions were chosen because of spacing, and if a touring group brings in a DiGiCo, it can drop right in.”

The venue’s mic selection is mostly Shure and Sennheiser with an assortment of Radial Engineering D.I.s. “It’s pretty much what we’d supply for our festival main stages,” according to Lalani. “However, if there’s a request for something different, like DPAs, we can easily provide those from our rental stock.” In terms of wireless, “we went with Shure Axient Digital. That area is peculiar from an RF standpoint, as there’s a 15-story FM transmitter right across from the loading dock. Anyone who brings in a PSM300 or lower-end wireless will run into problems. We have about 150 channels of Axient in-house and it’s tried and true.”

The rig for the rooftop bar/performance stage is also all-L-Acoustics, based on its A10i FOCUS and WIDE speakers, along with two KS21i 21-inch subwoofers, all driven by two LA2Xi amp/control racks.

So Far, So Good

So far, The Eastern has amassed rave reviews from fans and artists alike. And with seating that’s adaptable to concerts and special events (besides a steady stream of music shows, the venue booked its first TEDx-style lecture a few weeks ago) The Eastern is off to a great start. And the state of the art sound and dazzling visuals just make a good thing better. But from our viewpoint, what really matters is how the crews have reacted. According to MMP’s Soriero, “the general consensus both from touring LD’s and audio engineers is that it’s really awesome.” And that’s what really counts.

The Eastern

  • Capacity: 2,300
  • Key Components: L-Acoustics K2 line arrays; Avid S6L consoles
  • Integrator: Music Matters Productions

For more info about The Eastern, visit: www.easternatl.com. For more info about Music Matters Productions, visit: www.musicmattersproductions.com.

 

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