Professional Sound - February 2018 - Page 33

record and those drum tones on the record wouldn’t translate live; I think it’s a different en- vironment that works with that situation.” On Burnett’s drums was a “dream combination” of Telefunken, Neu- mann, AKG, Beyer- e S6L H with an Avid Venu FO at n lla Le dynamic, Shure, and Mc m Ca Sennheiser mics. From his spot in monitor world, Row- I left it,” adds Rowland at monitors about the land says one of the most intriguing things Leslie. “It sounds fantastic.” about working with Caesar’s crew was the There was a lot of debate in preprod- amount of talkback happening on stage. uction about how best to mic the choir. The drummer, Burnett, and the playback They considered ultra-directional pencil technician, Jordan Evans, are also Caesar’s microphones, but the initial plan was to also producers and managers, which shows how hang the choir’s microphones from the rig- small and close-knit the Toronto-based crew ging, which obviously makes them hard to around him is at the moment. They’ve both aim precisely. They then considered large- worked with Drake, Eminem, and other stars diaphragm cardioid condensers, but hanging and it’s through their independent label also made that too difficult. Ultimately, with Caesar, Golden Child Recordings, that they ditched the idea of hanging the mi- Freudian was released. “They’re knowledge- crophones, thinking it didn’t help the show able and everything is really thought out. aesthetically and compromised the sound In monitor world there are a lot of talkbacks too much, and instead divided the 12-person on stage because Matthew, who’s playing choir in groups of three, each around an drums, will also be talking to Jordan about Audio-Technica AT4050 large-diaphragm cueing and slowing down and stopping the condenser microphone set to cardioid. tracks, and he’s also musically directing the With the introduction of those four entire band while drumming,” explains Row- AT4050s on stage, McLellan says he again land. “So while playing, he’ll be talking to ran into some issues with drum bleed. “But Daniel, telling him what he needs to focus I wouldn’t compromise Matt’s playing,” he on or change or address or whatever. And stresses. “I wouldn’t be like, ‘Can you chill while he’s doing that, he’ll shout, ‘OK, go to during this part?’ So I just have to watch the the fourth,’ and all of a sudden, they’ll all go bleed, watch my compression settings, and into a different chord in the progression. It’s just try to avoid having eight extra over- incredible to listen to.” heads on stage,” he says. “So I’ve carved out As Caesar receives some stage direction some weird frequencies that you wouldn’t from Burnett and Evans, McLellan is also necessarily want to take out of a vocal mic, sometimes in his ear. The FOH engineer but I have to. But with everything in the mix, recalls that during one of the first nights of it kind of suits it because it’s just too brittle if the five-show run, when Caesar had been you don’t address it.” battling a minor cold, the singer began the Speaking of the drummer, even song “Death and Taxes” in his modal voice though this is an R&B/soul show, McLellan rather than the song’s usual falsetto. “That, says he mics and mixes Burnett’s kit like a to me, was a red flag that he doesn’t think rock show. “You have this amazing drummer he sounds good right now. So there is a on stage and that right there determines two-bar instrumental break and during that how energetic the se t is. If you mute the time, I talked to him, like, ‘Danny, I know drums, the foundation of the mix is gone. So what you’re about to do. You’re going to I’ve dialed in, pretty much, a rock kit with a bail on this falsetto part. I’m just letting you gospel drummer behind it and it seems to know you sound phenomenal out front and translate well because it just brings another you got this,’” McLellan recalls. “Just a little level to the performance. The songs are still reassurance, because he did sound good. the songs, but it’s just a more exciting envi- I’m not going to bullshit him; if he sounds ronment. It wouldn’t translate on the like shit, I’ll be like, ‘Maybe chill out for this song.’ But if he sounds like gold, I’m going to reassure him of that and tell him, ‘It’s all in your head, bud. You have a sound guy for a reason and I’m going to make sure you sound good.’” To fill the Danforth Music Hall, the crew used the venue’s L-Acoustics Kara house PA, with 12 boxes and four SB218 subs per side. There are also some JBL and Adamson fills for the floor and balcony. To help tune the room, Rowland brought in VER Toronto’s Jon Halliwell, with whom he’d collaborated while on tour with Marianas Trench and City & Colour. Halliwell pulled double duty as PA and monitor systems tech. Once they moved over from the Sony Sound Stage to the venue for final rehearsals, Halliwell says he only had to do a little bit of reduction of the house system’s mids and tune the subs a bit to suit the show. “I did bring a [Lab.gruppen] LM 44 Lake Controller just to have some of our own PA system processing. I set up the [Rational Acoustics] Smaart system and did quick room tuning and I didn’t really have to do very much. Everything was sounding pretty good. We tweaked it a little bit for our taste and I realigned the subs with the mains a little bit, but other than that, we’re kind of using it as-is,” Halliwell explains. “Daniel Caesar’s sound, and urban music, it needs to have a good, solid bottom and the vocals are very important. So we tuned the system with that in mind and the house engineer basically has this system set up as a blank slate so you can sort of come in and do any kind of show. But it definitely needs some adjustments for a particular sound.” A sold out five-night residency at the Danforth Music Hall was a big step up for Caesar, but it says something about his de- liberate, calculated approach to success that he and his team opted for multiple intimate shows rather than one night at the Bud- weiser Stage or even the Air Canada Centre, which was certainly an option given the overwhelming demand for tickets. Those who were there, seeing this burgeoning superstar serenade them from the all-white stage, surely knew they were seeing some- thing that won’t come around again. Be- cause even as he shuns the major labels to maintain control over his career, it’ll be hard to shun major venues much longer. Michael Raine is the Senior Editor of Professional Sound PROFESSIONAL SOUND 33