It’s over, it’s done, and we’ve survived the biggest rock’n’roll weekend in the UK calendar… But now there's a new challenge.
"We have a new sound system that hopefully will improve the situation from last year," explained Reading and Leeds Festival organiser Melvin Benn. That ‘new’ sound system was coming from RG Jones Sound Engineering, based on the success of our involvement with Latitude and Glastonbury Pyramid Stage, and boy did it have to be right. The Reading site has strict offsite sound levels which, despite an increase from previous years, simply had to be adhered to for the sake of the future of the festival, as well as the faith of artists and audience alike.
The two festivals share a three day bill, which this year featured Kings of Leon, Prodigy, Placebo, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys … and the mighty Radiohead. And of course the The Eagles of Death Metal. The technical spec for the two sites has to be as near as possible to identical, but the physical sites themselves demand very different things from the point of view of the neighbours. Leeds doesn’t have any neighbours, whereas Reading sits within waving distance of some seriously expensive real estate, the owners of which don’t necessarily want to sing along to ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. Both sites are in the middle of an estate, but whereas Leeds is the kind of estate where you might shoot deer, you would be more likely to be picking up a new exhaust at Reading, such is the nature of the surrounding area!
The secret to success for both events was a tightly controlled sound system and most importantly our own “all-star line up” crew. In order to maintain the technical continuity across the festivals, RG’s called upon Synco network partners Ampco Pro Rent from Holland, who also provided three crew for each of the eleven man teams.
"Our engineers on site were exceptional" explained Director of RG Jones, Andrew Williamson. "We needed to put together two crews of such a high calibre to make sure that everything ran smoothly and to ensure we achieved the best results possible from the systems".
RG’s has a very long standing relationship with APR, and whilst the quality of the gear is unquestionable, bringing people together to work in a potentially stressful environment can present problems. With APR, it goes without saying that total professionalism comes as standard, and their guys blended in to our strange English ways with all the Dutchness they could muster! You know what, they’re not so different, despite what they might tell you, and thanks are due to Remco, Eve and Richard at Reading and Merijn, Harrie and Koert at Leeds, ably assisted by Kees Heegstra as equipment logistics manager for putting up with us all.
As the acoustic consultants for Reading, Vanguardia found themselves working closely with RG Jones. Jim Griffiths stated "the system provided good coverage in the arena as well as minimizing sound propagation beyond the boundary of the site to meet environmental constraints. It was a pleasure working with all the RG Jones engineers who worked as an integrated team with Vanguardia".
The English crew read like a ‘who’s-who’ of the top end of the industry.
At Leeds: Simon Hodge, Steve Watson, Ali Viles, Al Woods, Billy Birks, Damian Dyer, Matt Sussex
At Reading: The Great Man Honywill, Mark Isbister, Mark Edwards, George Hogan, Paul Myers, Steve Carr, Ben Milton, Laura Yensen
This opportunity is as good as any to say a big thanks to all of them for their seriously hard graft and for getting a fantastic result.
Simon Honywill explains "As overall project manager, it was vital that everybody took on the responsibilities of their particular task without question, without fuss. I had nothing to worry about other than making sure that the meal tickets were sorted!"