Green Day Tour Profile

Oct 25, 2010 4:57 PM, By Sarah Benzuly

HI-FI SOUND THRILLS THE CROWD

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Green Day, from left: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool

Green Day, from left: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool

When Green Day finally hit the stage at the Shoreline Amphitheater (Mountain View, Calif.), the sold-out crowd went absolutely wild, eagerly anticipating what the punk-rockers would play from their extensive catalog. Would the set list draw heavily from their latest, 21st Century Breakdown? Radio hits from Dookie? Would they pull out B-sides from back in the days of slugging it through small clubs in their hometown of Berkeley? In fact, they chose a little bit of everything.

And Green Day, over the years, has finely honed their sound—a gritty blend of punk and rock. Sure, it’s a live show, but they want their signature album sound to pulse through the P.A.

Clair Global is providing all gear, including its new Clair i3 compact line array. According to systems tech/crew chief Jason Vrobel, the P.A. comprises 20 i3 boxes per side with 12 Prism subs per side. “In addition, we have four Clair R4s and four S4 subs and some P2 boxes for front-fill, just to fill in some of the spots we’re missing with the P.A.,” Vrobel says. “We’re also using eight Clair IDLs per side [the new two-way delay box] on some shows to fill in the outside of the i3s. I tune the P.A. every day [using a rack full of Clair iOs]. With the shed run in the U.S., it’s fairly consistent with the same sort of EQ we put on the P.A., but here and there we’ll change different frequencies for different rooms. We like the sound of the older amplifiers a little bit better [than Clair’s newer models] because Green Day is a very analog-sounding band; no digital consoles. They’re looking for a distinctive tone out of the P.A. so we’re going a bit more old-school.”

“We definitely want to make it a live experience,” front-of-house engineer Kevin Lemoine adds, “but we don’t want to alienate fans who are coming to the show who are used to hearing the CDs and the songs and the videos. You don’t want to take them too far away from that.” Lemoine, who has been with the band for the past 10 years, mixes with that in mind, but is also contending with a few extra musicians to help bolster the sound. Jason Freeze plays piano, sax, accordion and Hammond B3, as well as contributing background vocals; Jason White offers his acoustic and electric guitar playing, as well as background vocals; and Jeff Matika, guitarist. The addition of these extra touring musicians, says Lemoine, “fills out the sound of the records that have come out since 2004. Their albums have gotten more advanced and they wanted to [mirror] that live. It helps [my mix] a lot because there’s more things going on and it makes it sound bigger. I’ve got a lot more channels, but that’s just fine.”

Those extra channels are housed in his Midas XL4 board. (He started using an API Paragon II at the onset of the tour but switched to the Midas about halfway through the North American dates.) “The Paragon is an older console and things just stopped working on it,” Lemoine says of the switch. “We’d have to change out input strips and preamp modules a lot; maybe once every five days. I found the sound of it to be true and uncolored while the Midas brought a bit more grit to the mix. I like the Midas a lot; it’s a 12-year-old console we’re using, but it’s really held up well.”

Monitor engineer Beau Alexander—who is also quite familiar with the band’s tone, having worked with them as a monitor tech in 2004 and then as monitor engineer since 2005—mans a Studer Vista 5 console, using the board’s 96 inputs and 56 outs. “A lot of the reason why I chose this console initially is because of the outputs I have. I wasn’t sure [at rehearsals for this tour] if we were going to use wedges or in-ears. When we first started, I built mixes for wedges and in-ears at the same time.” Since then, the band has opted to all go on in-ears (Ultimate Ears UE-11s), a switch that was brought forth by the bandmembers themselves; previous tours saw Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals/guitar), Tre Cool (drums) and Mike Dirnt (bass) on wedges and the support musicians on in-ears. “I went from mixing wedges, where I basically had a fixed mono spot, to a big, broad stereo mix, and they can run all over [the stage] and still hear what’s going on,” Alexander says. “With a stereo spectrum, I’m able to do a lot more with the mix and create a bigger atmosphere, which is lot more fun for me—getting creative with the mix.”






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