9:30 Club: Best in U.S.

Feb 1, 2013 9:00 AM


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photo of Grace Potter at 9:30 Club

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at 9:30 Club

Steel Pulse made its U.S. debut at 9:30 Club on the night of Bob Marley’s funeral, and it was broadcast worldwide. Dylan played there two nights in 1997 as he was receiving his Kennedy Center Honor. The Beastie Boys, after a five-year hiatus, returned to the stage at 9:30. Cyndi Lauper, the Fleshtones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Smashing Pumpkins, Jimmy Eat World, Fugazi, Adele…they all have put on memorable performances at 9:30. From 2007 through 2011, it was voted Top Club at the Billboard Touring Awards; it has been awarded Nightclub of the Year honors four times by Pollstar, the concert industry trade journal. For most of that time, it has also been Pollstar’s top ticket-selling club. And it has a killer sound system for its 1,200-capacity space.

The room itself has treatments and has undergone gradual improvements over the years, with baffles hung from the ceiling and balcony-level walls that are perforated with absorptive material behind them. In 2008, Eighth Day Sound contracted for a major update to the sound system, installing a d&b audiotechnik J Series array with eight tops per side over three B2s per side in cardioid pattern. All of the amps are d&b D12 except the sidefills and downfill, which are powered by D6s. d&b E12 outfills are added for when the stage is forward at lightly attended shows.

“It’s a little bit of overkill for a 1,200-cap room,” says senior audio engineer Shawn “Gus” Vitale, “but I never want it to breathe hard.” An Avid Venue Profile (mix rack) was moved into FOH in 2008 because most visiting engineers have some experience on the platform.

In summer 2011, Vitale upgraded the monitor rig to seven d&b M2s and eight M4s, all powered by the D12. “As at FOH, not too much EQ is needed to make these wedges scream and sound awesome,” Vitale explains. “These are mostly run in biamp mode, unless we have an extraordinary mix count to satisfy.” Monitors have a laptop with d&b R1 for monitoring and control. The monitor desk is the Yamaha PM5D RH workhorse, which they’ve had for almost 10 years with few problems.

“Most days the visiting engineers come in, load their show, tune for 10 minutes max and away we go,” Vitale says. “We also have a Dolby Lake processor in front of the d&b amps for additional EQ and delay. The auto sensing on the digital inputs makes it almost seamless when we have visiting desks. We take a neutral, hands-off approach as house engineers. We are here to help if you want or need it, but never meddlesome."

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