Deftones and System Of A Down
I cannot recall a bigger buzz around the halls of Shure than in the months leading up to the Deftones/System Of A Down show. Both bands have large cult followings – a status that was evident by the chatter of my coworkers and mentions on my Facebook and Twitter accounts from the date the shows were announced.
It was our honor to have System Of A Down as our Featured Artist of the Month for August. We gave two tickets each to the last two shows of the tour – Detroit and Chicago. I went down to the Chicago show to see their last performance of the tour. I arrived and met both Chad Olech (Front of House, Deftones), whom I have known for years, and Pasi Hara (Monitors, SOAD), whom I had met previously; we walked through the backstage areas to the side-stage where Pasi had his desk set up, ready for sound check.
System Of A Down are heavy wireless users. There are three channels of UHF-R for each Shavo (bass), Daron (guitar), and Serj (guitar) as well as Serj’s vocal channels (also UHF-R with Beta 58A mic elements). Feeding the band, engineers, and techs their mixes are eight channels of PSM® 1000 with a PA821 antenna combiner and PWS’s HA-8089 helical antenna. Pasi had connected everything via a 16-port Ethernet switch to his MacBook and administered the gear, held in various racks, with Wireless Workbench 6. We geeked out a bit over the scans of the radio frequency environments; Chicago has an astonishingly crowded UHF-band. In spite of the multitude of strong TV channels and random other radios in the Allstate Arena, everything was working and ready.
Sound check happened very quickly. Pasi and I temporarily parted ways – he to the backstage area as I went to join Chad at the FOH position for the Deftones’ check. He ran a few tracks recorded the previous night through the PA initially, soon joined by the band. The empty arena reverberated as sound bounced off concrete and hard plastic seats where hours later the crowd would keep those waves all to themselves.
Deftones are also using PSM 1000. They’re the first band I look after to use ULX-D. Chino’s usual weapon of choice is a wired Beta 58A, taped in similar fashion to one of Roger Daltrey’s famous SM58s, though Chino’s moves can be considerably more chaotic than Daltrey’s famous circles. The wireless version comes out when a mic on a stand is needed, ironically. This is to minimize the liability of tripping on a cable bringing the mic and stand on and off stage.
At one point I was handed a P10R tuned to Chino’s monitor mix. I popped in my earphones and went for a walk. I made it through the crowd and around the circumference of the floor of the arena, then behind the stage without a single dropout. All this was off a single, directional passive antenna aimed at the stage. I am, of course, biased in my opinion of those units, but I thought that rather impressive performance for in-ear monitors. Also, listening to their mix while seeing the show from the different perspectives added a sort of surreal quality to the show. Earphones or no, the band brought it.
System Of A Down had not been through Chicago in years, which, as a fan, is not OK. However, they brought it with a jaw-dropping set of 26 songs. The lights went out and the set opened with the instantly recognizable staccato notes of “Prison Song”. As the billowing shroud fell from the stage the audience turned frenetic. As the saying goes, “all killer, no filler”. During Suite-Pee Chino Moreno jumped up on stage to duet with Serj Tankian. Drummer John Dolmayan was flanked by Abe Cunningham on his right and Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante on the left. System closed the set with “Sugar”.
After the gig was over I was able to meet up with Serj and geek out a bit over our ribbon mics. He has been loving the KSM313 on the top end of his grand piano. We covered a few other topics, including music distribution these days, before the aftershow crowd needed his attention. I made my way to the crew bus to catch up with Pasi and Chad before heading out.