Watershed festival and Brandi Carlile at The Gorge: J-Series for a stunning venue.


Watershed is a three day country music event and campsite at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington, with an artist lineup that included Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, and Thomas Rhett, just to name a few - plus 26,000 in attendance. A few weeks later Brandi Carlile took to the main stage for a crowd of 15,000; it was a homecoming of sorts, with Carlile joined by guests including Sheryl Crow and members of Soundgarden.

J-Series was provided by Seattle’s Carlson Audio, who provide rentals and sound reinforcement systems for the Pacific Northwest. “Our production manager, Morgan Hodge, was the main designer for this system and used both ArrayCalc and NoizCalc to predict how the PA would react in a venue that presents several challenges,” states Jesse Turner, front of house engineer and crew chief. “The Gorge is an asymmetrical natural amphitheater that has evolved over the years but is basically a stage built onto the side of a cliff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. This meant that we needed to design a system that has great coverage over the entire venue and serves the needs of the front of house engineers.

We created layers in ArrayCalc to be able to have a symmetrical sounding system for FOH but also utilize the advancements that ArrayProcessing has given us in system clarity and control.Jesse Turner, front of house engineer and crew chief

Whereas ArrayCalc simulates the coverage of the loudspeaker systems inside a venue, NoizCalc is used to accurately predict noise imissions in the open air to help plan for the environmental impact of outdoor events. These planning tools combined with ArrayProcessing, deliver consistent, high quality listening for the entire audience and minimal impact outside the listening zone.

Watershed’s main stage featured L/R sixteen J8s with four J12s at the bottom per side; for outfills, ten J8s with two J12s at the bottom per side; twenty four B2-SUBs split into left and right stacks to accommodate video and staging, for frontfill, six Q7s, and three delay towers each with four V8s above four V12s. The rig was powered by ninety eight D80 channels and thirty six D20 channels.

“All the amps were connected via a Dante network,” adds Turner, “through one DS10 amplifier per side of the stage and Dante AVIO adapters for the delay systems on the hill. This allowed us to quickly change configurations, since some artists specified varying signal path requirements - stereo subs, for example.”

Manning a DiGiCo SD12 was Watershed’s monitor engineer, Vince Agne. “The festival rig had Shure PSM 1000s for IEMs, and M4s for floor monitors. Sidefills featured four Q1s over a pair of V-SUBs on each side, and drum subs were Q-SUBs. All speakers were powered with D12s.

“Even though The Gorge Amphitheatre is a big stage, there is not much room for wing space,” adds Agne. “When you get three or four country band monitor rigs set up, all of a sudden you have a monitor engineer that is part of the show on stage. Having a d&b rig flown in the air, subs and wedges that are light/easy to move, but can still put out some SPL, and two racks of D12s to power it all, we were able to make our ‘festival house rig’ footprint very small.

It's also nice when guest engineers come up, notice we have a d&b rig, and know that they are taken care of gear wise. Through the gorge winds, 100 plus degree days, and smoke from nearby wildfires, everything worked without a hitch.Vince Agne, Monitor Engineer

For the Brandi Carlile show that followed, Carlson Audio’s Kyle Mooney was monitor engineer. "We rolled out a couple of M4s with D12 amplifiers, not only to help augment the show for special guests, but also mix the opener for the festival, Amythyst Kiah.

The seamless integration into the tour's rig (also M4s with D12s) made it simple, and we didn't miss a beat. But in tight sound check situations like this when mixing for a band that you've maybe never mixed before, it's always nice to lay down M4s on the deck. You just know they're going to work, they're easy to deploy, sound great, and the artists are going to be very happy. I really couldn't ask for more. They're just solid!Kyle Mooney, Carlson Audio Monitor Engineer
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