Perhaps one of the more unusual venues a DiGiCo console has been recruited into was aboard The USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier this past March. Pop-punk band, Bowling for Soup, were also enlisted by Navy Entertainment to play the ‘thank you’ concert for more than 2500 crew members at the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego. Mambo Sound of Long Beach provided the backline including a DiGiCo SD8 for FOH, with a D.A.S. line array PA system supplied by DBS Sound & Lighting of Irwindale.
One of the ship’s plane elevators was dropped to create the stage, which loomed some 30 feet above the pier. All the gear was craned onto the ship with power provided by some of the onboard nuclear power systems, which made for a challenge when it came to powering the band’s wireless electronics and in-ear monitors. Ultimately, they ended up using the D.A.S. wedges, “which rocked!” said Ruben Silva of DBS.
Pictured Above: Derrick McDonald at FOH
“We ended up having to use the wedges primarily because there was so much electronics running on the ship,” explained Steve McNeil of Mambo Sound. “Running power off the nukes, the ship was in ultra high security mode; there was a lot of scanning going on, which took out the UHF frequency. Because of the console’s MADI connection, we were able to run two co-axial cables up 30′ to the deck to run the wedges… This also made for a very fast breakdown when the show was over as the ship had to be out of port in two hours.”
For Derrick McDonald, Bowling For Soup’s FOH engineer, this was his maiden voyage on a DiGiCo of any kind. With minimal hands-on time prior to the actual concert, McDonald was up and running on the console quickly and with ease.
“We flew in late the night before to Los Angeles and then drove 2 hours to San Diego,” McDonald recalled. “After 4 hours of sleep, the crew got up and drove to the massive ship harbored nearby. At FOH, I walked up to the DiGiCo and after staring at it for a couple of minutes and pushing buttons, I felt comfortable enough on it to begin building a mix. This was all before I even talked to Steve McNeil! After helping with the wiring and setup, Steve and I met back at FOH for a crash course on the console. Within no time, I was EQ’ing, applying dynamics, assigning effects, without Steve having to watch over my back or answer endless questions. By far, this console is the warmest-sounding digital console I’ve ever used! It’s completely intuitive, and even in the sun in the middle of the day, I could still see the screen (even though I didn’t need it). This show was a true first for me and I can’t wait until July when we head to Italy to do two more Navy shows in Naples and Sicily… hopefully on a DiGiCo console!”