Guitar Heroes Share Their Mexican Magic
April 2012 Issue 152
As masters of their craft, Rodrigo Y Gabriela have taken rhythmic flamenco guitar to another dimension and formed one of the industry’s most exciting and unique partnerships. With the duo selling out venues as they globetrot through their current European and North American Area 52 tour, TPi’s Zoe Mutter visited Brixton Academy to experience an unforgettable fusion of musical styles.
Watching Rodrigo Sánchez and Gabriela Quintero on stage is as close to perfection as you can hope for when it comes to live performance. It’s always a joy to behold artists with passion and a real connection with their instruments and when the Mexican musical duo’s tour reached Brixton Academy, it was almost as if the guitars had become an extension of themselves.
The gifted twosome have come a long way since they started out as teenagers playing in thrash metal band Tierra Ácida. In their latest outing, some additional salsa flavour has been injected into the production with the addition of Havana’s most accomplished musicians who joined them in the form of C.U.B.A. - the Cuban band that appeared on new album Area 52, which the pair recorded in Havana last summer. One glance at the captivated crowd in the Brixton Academy was proof enough that the new ensemble - complete with five-piece Cuban band - was a touring success.
A NEW DIRECTION
For Production Manager, Mike Taylor (Kula Shaker, Gomez), the year he has been with Rod y Gab’s close-knit group has been an enlightening one. “I landed the job after their Tour Manager, Carlo Polli, happened to pop in to my office asking about some sound hire recommendations. He looked over my shoulder at some advancing I was doing for an Asian tour and asked if I wouldn’t mind looking at doing the same for him,” he explained.
“Usually the first thing that happens when a new production manager is appointed is everyone gets sacked and the production manager gets his own people in. This time there was absolutely no need. These guys have been doing this for a long time and they are all consummate professionals. I didn’t want the show to suffer in any way, especially as we are venturing out in such a new direction with this Area 52 tour. I wanted everything to be as familiar with the artist and the crew as possible.”
Due to the dynamic nature of the show, which requires 60 channels of audio to be handled by the audio crew, the team have been put to the test on the road. “It’s also quite an expensive thing to have on the road so we made a decision early on that we needed to have a small compact system, but with a massive capability,” continued Taylor. “The venues we were touring have been ranging from 1,000 - 5,700 capacity and we have used the same set-up in every venue. Keeping it as light and as small as possible means we can achieve what we need to for this tour and still only need a van from GigRigs and bus trailer from Silver Gray to cart it about it. This keeps the cost down so much.”
THE SOUND OF SUCCESS
A performance from such a talented pair of musicians and their vibrant supporting band called for an audio team with equal skill to achieve the standard of sonic excellence Rod y Gab have become famous for. Poised behind the mixing console at FOH during the fast and furious musical production was an expert of the audio world, David Marchant, who, throughout his 30-year career, has had a prominent presence in the Mexican market thanks to frequent work with Latin American musicians. This has led Marchant to team up with a colossal collection of well-known Mexican artists and other respected musicians from around the globe such as Cuban-American salsa singer Celia Cruz.
Like Rodrigo y Gabriela, Marchant is a native of Mexico City and was called to join the band as FOH Engineer four years ago while he was touring in Mexico and Latin America.
Having witnessed the magical evolution of musical styles as the ensemble came together, Marchant refers to working alongside Rodrigo y Gabriela and an exceptional Cuban band as an “honour”. “The crowd loves the music and fusion of the band and the two talented guitarists,” he added. “Rodrigo y Gabriela have to be confident audio wise, which was why choosing the best equipment was as crucial as selecting the musicians for the band.”
A prominent part of the tour’s audio was Allen & Heath’s iLive-T112, which made multiple appearances, being used both at FOH by Marchant and in monitor world by audio engineer, Mike McGrath. The iDR-64 on stage and the iDR-16 at FOH were then linked via Dante. Enthused Taylor: “The beauty of this system is that we can run 60 channels plus the four for the support in the one brain. On top of that, we are running eight stereo in ear mixes and eight ways of wedges on stage along with doing a full 64 channel recording at FOH directly into a laptop.
“We’re achieving things you would need to literally quadruple the price to achieve with other manufacturers. Both the engineers are over the moon that they have these desks and the Sennheiser mics. It’s a lot to do in an ever changing venue with ever changing PAs and monitors, so like with everything else, keeping the important parts familiar has been the key.”
CONFIDENCE IN THE SYSTEM
“Mike and I have a wonderful bond and work well together using the same desks. We’re using one main rack, which is the brain of the system and controls the gains,” said Marchant. “I was a little worried at first because I like to move my gains freely with no compromises, but it’s been a great system to work with even though Mike and I are sharing gains.
“I mix on the fly and it’s all about glancing over to see what the musicians are doing whilst being able to work quickly and confidently on the console. Introducing this system in this configuration was a great decision because I can easily work with the 64 channels needed and the desk also offers a steady method to allow me to record,” said Marchant.
Area 52 was not the first time Allen & Heath’s products had featured in Rod y Gab’s audio equipment line-up - the company’s smaller iLive R72 was used on their last outing in support of the 11:11 album. Explained Marchant: “We were travelling to new cities on trains and playing in small club situations for that tour so we needed something compact. At only 12kg, it was brilliant to travel with and I was pleasantly surprised by the results because I was doing FOH and monitors with the little desk.
“Therefore, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes to using the larger iLive on this tour, which has seen us visiting larger venues. Rodrigo y Gabriela are very happy with the sound we achieve and although it’s only the fourth gig of the tour, the more we have been using it, the better it’s sounded. It’s great Allen & Heath are supporting the show on the European dates and have become sponsors for the US tour too because using the console gives us a constant stability meaning that I’m confident in each gig we play.”
Added Taylor: “These guys are under a load of pressure to get the sound spot on every night, with 64 channels and an ever changing rig it bares testament to both their abilities. I’ve been asked by more sound engineers for free tickets to this show than any other band I’ve worked with, which I think shows how well Rod, Gab and the whole team are regarded in the industry.”
AUDIO EQUIPMENT EXCELLENCE
In addition to the seven days of pre production at Loudroom facilities in Dublin, the audio team spent two months working on technical specs and deciding which microphones, IEMs, speakers and wedges would best suit the performance. Within the mic kit list, a total of four Sennheiser e 935 were used as vocal mics for Rodrigo and Gabriela, as well as for backing vocals.
“We are using 904’s exclusively on the percussion. Bongos, congas, timbales and drum kit - they just work on everything. We’re also using Sennheiser e 914’s on all cymbals and percussion as we needed something that had amazing detail when used in a close mic situation. All cowbells are mic’d using 905’s and the brass are on e 908’s,” said Taylor.
According to Marchant, he has felt fortunate to have captured the remarkable sounds created by the troupe of stellar musicians using Sennheiser - the brand that was chosen for microphones on stage along with Radial J48 direct boxes and Shure Beta 91’s on cajon drums. He added: “I love Sennheiser and every product they’ve made has been state of the art. There are certain brands that are top of the line and Sennheiser is one of them.”
Taylor agreed: “Sennheiser has worked with me on a whole bunch of projects in the past, and if you want a manufacturer who has everything that you need all built to last then they are the guys. The support is amazing, the people are awesome and the product sounds so good, but not at the cost of durability.”
Monitor Engineer McGrath has become a fan of the Sennheiser 908 brass mics featuring on the Area 52 performances. He commented: “The trumpet is blown really hard and some mics can’t take it and distort the sound, but the 908 works so well. As soon as the musicians heard the mics they were amazed. I showed trumpet player Amik Guerra the EQ on the iPad so he could see and hear the difference.”
Added Marchant: “The sound is a little complex on this tour because we have two guitars on stage and as well as choosing the best microphones, we need to select the right console. Although the Yamaha NX custom guitars used are amazing, to get the right sound we have to split each guitar into six channels, which means every channel is EQ’d differently. This is the only way to achieve the sound we want.”
The precise EQ features on the iLive-T112 control surfaces allowed Marchant to make such adjustments with great ease. He continued: “Rod and Gab are artists who know what they want to hear. Gabriela plays the guitar as a drum as well as in the traditional manner and when she goes to the traditional way, she wants to hear the clarity and pristine sound of the nylon strings with the warmth and low end resonance from the wooden body. When she hits the guitar, she wants to hear a kick drum low end and the brilliance of a snare too.
“Rodrigo likes his sound with a perfect balance between the mid and high frequencies, keeping a perfect match with them to improve the intelligibility of his solos. He also wants in some cases to have the low end crunch of an electric guitar without loosing the nylon string sound and in some tunes he wants to have a fully distorted Dimebag Darrell sound.”
“With many other boards you would need to tweak them a lot to hear any changes, but this is not the case with the T112. Everything is so well marked on the console, which is essential because there is a very visual relationship between the ears, the brain and the eyes with what we are doing.”
The cue control the iLive offers has been one of McGrath’s favourite onboard features, along with the real time analyser (RTA) for outputs. He explained: “If I’m listening to Gabby’s front monitor mix and she’s standing in front of it, there are some parts where she plays percussion on the guitar. That’s when I need to push it to make her really feel it where she is standing.
“The less she can hear, the harder she hits and that affects the tone out front, so for her to play better I have to make it loud. As she starts to play I make it as loud as I can before feedback - I’m right on the edge and if I look at the RTA display and see it’s at 200Hz then I can adjust accordingly.”
When it comes to Rodrigo’s monitor mix, he has a preference for a large long reverb with a fairly long pre delay to allow enough time for the dry note to get through before hearing the reverb. Added McGrath: “Since he has his own studio in Mexico and has recorded the albums, Rod has big ears and knows what he wants so I try my hardest to achieve that.”
RECORDING ALBUM-WORTHY PERFORMANCES
An audio engineer working on a show as dynamic as Rodrigo y Gabriela’s Area 52 will always be kept on their toes and Marchant admitted handling such a complex gig each night can be demanding. “Working in places where I’m near to the bar and people are yelling can present extra problems. Sometimes I need to trust more in what I did in sound check because it can be difficult to hear, whereas sometimes I need to run up front within the audience to confirm my mix,” he said.
“As it’s now the fourth gig, we’re even more confident and more familiar with each other. Mike and I know what the musicians are like to listen to and what they want to hear.”
For the current run of shows, all performances were recorded for archive and promotional purposes with Digital Performer and also made use of Audinate’s Dante virtual soundcard. These recordings could also be used to produce a live album, such as Live in Japan or Live in France. Previously, the team chose an alternative system to record 16 sends from the FOH board. However, some FOH desks have not offered enough outputs for recording at FOH and PA zoning, sub outs and delay outs.
“Rodrigo y Gabriela are a very dynamic and exciting live act, and as such, release a lot of live albums - one for each of the last two studio albums,” explained McGrath. “It’s so much easier logistically and financially to do it this way using the T112 rather than send seven people and a 60 channel input list to radio studios for promo. We’ve done TV and radio prior to the tour and the set up and record times were hitting five hours.”
Marchant and McGrath chose to use a Dante card added to their iDR-64, allowing them to record all 64 inputs via Cat5 cable to a dedicated Mac and hard drive at FOH running Digital Performer. “Using the Dante card allowed us so much freedom,” commented McGrath. “With the dedicated Cat5 split for recording, we could record each channel separately instead of having to sum inputs to the 16 tracks available previously. David could replay his previous night’s show as a virtual sound check each day. The price of recording 64 tracks of audio at 48k every night with a comparable system would have been a huge figure. With the Dante card it’s so easy, cheap and successful.”
With the last album, 11:11, being taken from recordings of live gigs and Rod y Gab intending to release a live album of this tour too, every time Marchant records a show, he aims to capture album quality audio. He commented: “That’s why recording the shows is so important. We can pick the best tones and notes for the album. Before Dante, I could only record 16 channels. Now I have over 50, which is suitable for mixing live albums.”
Added Taylor: “Management is over the moon at the prospect of having a comprehensive multi-track recording of every gig. It makes releasing a live CD a no-brainer.”
CONTROL AND COVERAGE
Before supplying kit for the Brixton Academy performance of Area 52, event production and AV hire company APR Audio first became involved with Rodrigo y Gabriela through Production Manager Taylor, whom APR Systems Technician, Matt Gunter, has teamed up with on multiple productions. APR has also supplied Rodrigo y Gabriela twice before on the West Holts Stage at Glastonbury Festival.
“Mike was familiar with APR’s inventory, what it had been used on before and knew that the company always maintains a high level of detail and expertise in the way we approach jobs,” explained Gunter.
With all speakers in the Brixton Academy having to be positioned on the stage, the FOH system comprised Electro-Voice X-Line, XLD281 and X-Subs. Meanwhile, Electro-Voice X-Array was used for sidefills and HK Audio CT 115’s for wedges and two HK audio CTA118 subs upstage. A total of eight Electro-Voice Xvls were flown per side, with six Electro-Voice XLD281 per side covering the lower part of the stalls where the X-Line would not reach. A further four more XLD281’s were used for lip fill across the front of the stage, with the whole system being underpinned with X-Subs stacked four high on the outside and two high on the inside.
The whole FOH system was run on Electro-Voice P3000RL precision amplifiers, while system EQ and delay was controlled with Dolby Lake Processors. Onstage, Electro-Voice XDS subs, XB subs and XCN mid-hi’s were used for the side fill system running off Electro-Voice P3000 amps and Klark Teknik DN9848 processors, with HK Audio CT 115 wedges running again off P3000 amps and HK DSM 2060 processors. Two HK Audio CTA 118 were also used for upstage subs.
Added Gunter: “Because of our stock of EV, this was the easiest system for us to use. Production asked that we keep the PA to sensible sizes for sightline reasons, so for us that meant using the line array as we can achieve better control and coverage with this type of system. This also suited the venue’s style of rigging.”
FROM BUSKING TO BRIXTON ACADEMY
It was on the streets of Dublin in the early 2000s that Monitor Engineer, Mike McGrath, was first taken aback by the energy and flair of Rodrigo y Gabriela’s performance. He explained: “When I was a house engineer in Ireland my wife and I walked past them while they were busking. They had set up in a place where everybody from the rock bar would walk past - they were clever then and they are clever now you see.
“It wasn’t just busking - they were playing Megadeth and Metallica on acoustic guitars. Gab asked the crowd if they wanted any more and some guy shouted ‘Raining Blood by Slayer!’ and Rod just looked and smiled. I gave them £2 that night and then six weeks later I met them in a venue I was working in and said ‘So you like who’s playing tonight?’ and they replied ‘No, no, we’re here to be the support!”
In the duo’s infancy, they played Spanish guitars with no pick ups so condensers had to be placed in front of them, but the sound soon evolved and the musicians became acquainted with Frank Tate in Ireland who produced the custom-made guitars for their first succession of live shows. “There was a big busking scene in Dublin and they got to know everyone so it wasn’t long before they were supporting artists such as Damien Rice,” said McGrath. “I started not only working with them in the venue I was house engineer for, but at festivals such as Glastonbury and T in the Park. After a few years, they moved back to Mexico because the cold was killing them and then in 2009 their manager asked if I would come back and do monitors for them.
“When I told singer Lisa Hannigan, who I was touring with at the time, and is on the same record label as Rodrigo y Gabriela, she had such respect for them as musicians that she said it was too big for me to miss out on.”
Mixing the band and Rodrigo y Gabriela is just as demanding in monitor world as it is in FOH, highlighted McGrath. “We both mix on the fly because it’s such a hands-on gig and sometimes, if we have to use the comms to talk to each other, we have to wait until the end of the song because we’re using all of our fingers to mix. Sometimes people say monitors are subservient, but with this gig the artists are so creative and it never stops. You’re always doing something so it feels like a FOH gig because everyone has big mixes. It’s intense and I love it.
“Even when they perform on their own it’s hard because they play so many different styles, but it’s especially challenging with the addition of the Cuban band. Gab can go from playing the strings to playing the body of the guitar and the way we have the pick up system, she acts as the band’s drummer too.”
INTENSIVE MONITOR MIXING
To deliver the desired sound on stage, Monitor Engineer McGrath positioned three HK Audio CT 115 wedges in front of both Rodrigo and Gabriela, two large side fills, Electro-Voice XDS subs, XB subs and XCN mid-hi’s with double 18’s minimum in each and an upstage mix of CT 115 on top of a HK Audio CTA 118 sub each.
Said McGrath: “In rehearsals I have a SPL meter and just acoustically - with no amps and monitors - the band are doing 108dB on stage. Because you have such great volume, you can’t have every speaker at that level all the time because people would be going dizzy so I have to follow them with the volume, have all the other monitors ticking over and then when they’re standing in front of one I boost it.
“It’s pretty intensive and you can’t take your eyes off them, but the desk makes it really easy. All of the controls are on the strip so you know where you have to go immediately once the artist makes eye contact with you to make a change.”
Although Rodrigo y Gabriela use monitor wedges, the Cuban band has been on a mixture of IEMs for the tour - Sennheiser EW 300 G3’s along with Westone generic moulds and Ultimate Ears products. Hiring in large numbers of monitors each day would have been logistically and financially impractical, explained McGrath: “This is the only show we get to hire in extra kit in addition to the house gear and we opted for a mixture of IEMs and wedges. When I came in yesterday, I scanned the frequencies to see if there were any we could use. About 10 minutes after setting them up we started to have interference.
“Being in the city centre, you often run into some interference, but Sennheiser kit is so quick because there’s an autotune on them. It does it instantly so in between songs I can search and then by the time the next song starts it’s sorted.
“It’s got to the stage where after sound check this evening Rodrigo asked me about maybe trying the Sennheiser out because the band were telling him about the quality of what they have been hearing.”
CAUSING A STIR IN GUITAR WORLD
The audio team had to adjust the audio set-up to suit the venue in order to achieve a flawless performance at Brixton Academy. Explained McGrath: “There’s been quite an echo in this room and in sound check we got Rod to just hit his guitar and I think the echo is still finishing now!”
The audio engineer duo tweaked the EQ to account for any reflections and the increase in temperature between sound check and when the audience started filling the venue. “But once the reflections are accounted for and we’re all set up for the venue, the show is phenomenal,” added McGrath.
“The first night of this tour in Dublin was amazing - we’d never done the set from start to finish in front of a crowd. Dublin is where Rod n Gab started to get known busking on the street and it’s always a more pressured show for me because I’m Irish and it feels like Ireland owns Rod and Gab and made them famous in a way.
“We were all nervous on the first show, but then Gab turned round and smiled and we knew from the first song that it was going to be good. With monitors, you see the chemistry on stage and if it’s not going well, you’re the first one to get wind of it,” he said.
According to the proud production crew behind the much talked about show, it is the unique style and gargantuan sound that Rodrigo y Gabriela are capable of producing that keeps audiences coming back to their live shows. Continued McGrath: “When people see them for the first time they walk away saying ‘How did they do that with acoustic guitars?’ There’s something really different about them - it’s the quality of sound and that’s not bigging us up, it’s Rod and Gab. Yamaha was so interested when they saw what they were doing that they wanted to supply guitars for the tour. Yamaha has supplied custom NCX and NTX signature guitars for the last five years. Rod and Gab really are the guys that everyone is talking about in acoustic guitar land.”
Following a two-year break from the lighting industry, in which he had been involved since 1994, visual connoisseur, Krisjanis Berzins, moved from his home city of Riga, Latvia, to Ireland in 2001. “I decided to make Dublin my new base. I was still doing remote work for the multimedia outfit in Riga I’d been involved in setting up, but Dublin’s live music scene sucked me in,” said the LD and Video Director. “This is where I was introduced to Rod and Gab by their first FOH Engineer, Graham Higgins, in around 2003. At the time, they were still busking the Dublin streets and we were joking about how I should do the lights for them when they get big. And big they got.”
Generating the visual show design featuring on the musicians’ current production was an involved process. Using the first tour he collaborated with the artists on as a basis, Berzins followed a theatrical approach to lighting, but driven in the style of a rock show. “Simplicity was key. We used no projected gobos, for example, only aerial. It is dramatic and rhythmical and based around big colour looks and very little front light,” continued the visual specialist. “It has always been the two stars of the show that have to shine the brightest, everything else is secondary. It’s been the same with the latest set-up with the extra musicians being on the stage. Followspots handle Rod and Gab, while front truss moving spots cover the band.”
Berzins’ primary tool for the majority of the tour was the Martin Professional Mac 2000 Profile, supported by Mac 2000 Washes in addition to blinders and followspots. “But since these are not always available and our show at Brixton Academy was one of those occasions, we went for another beautiful option - the Alpha range from Clay Paky. The brand new spots and washes we had on display at the London show are gorgeous instruments. There were seven Alpha Wash 700’s on the back truss, five Alpha Spot 700’s on the front, five Washes on the floor behind the band and three a side for cross wash,” Berzins explained.
Paul Normandale - the Lighting Designer Berzins had co-designed the last album tour alongside - inspired the incorporation of shadow floods downstage and the addition of audience blinders on the front truss. “The show is based around a locally supplied rig every day and for the Brixton Academy show, the nice guys at Siyan looked after us by supplying all lighting kit. It’s a very scaled back version from the last tour, which included kabuki drops, but there is less space and budget due to the extra band members this time around,” added Berzins.
Its compact size and convenience, made the ChamSys MagicQ MQ50 - supplied by EQ Lighting - the most logical lighting control desk choice for the tour; being used in conjunction with a networked touch screen laptop for extra comfort. In previous years, the MQ200 was a regular feature on tour, but since saving space was important, the small, powerful and cost effective MQ50 fitted the bill perfectly. Commented Berzins: “There is quite a lot going on with this show, but I do as much as I can live. Otherwise it becomes disconnected and somewhat lifeless, which would be unacceptable considering the band are as live as it can get.”
Berzins - the man behind the stunning video and lighting elements of the performance - also revealed how the visual content for the musicians’ live shows has evolved over time: “Back in the day, when Rodrigo y Gabriela were just a seated duo, the video had a pivotal role of magnifying their finger work and partially exposing that crazy energy on the fret boards to the audience. We used black-and-white low-res lipstick cameras with a tweaked Sin City feature film look and it works wonderfully. Every time we had to go HD at the odd festival it just lost the effect and there are many reasons for that - too much detail being one of them.”
For the latest production, which has taken the artists in a new direction, a greater visual dynamic was added by the presence of the Cuban band. Continued Berzins: “The importance of live relay has been somewhat diminished. Therefore we’re concentrating more on abstract visuals and prerecorded composed pieces.”
The visual aspect of the show was brought to life through a combination of different types of content - eight customised black-and-white CCTV-style lipstick camera inputs and static and video footage from the Catalyst servers that was controlled by the ChamSys console. With video being triggered by Berzins, a total of eight layers of varying content was controlled using a Catalyst media server. ArtNet was also run between the console and servers as well as remote desktop software being used to send previews back to FOH. In addition to all other video kit, XL Video supplied a 20k Barco projector, which displayed visual content onto a Gerriets Opera White 40ft by 25ft screen, which along with the Catalyst was owned by Rodrigo y Gabriela.
Said Berzins: “There’s an analogue Sony camcorder from FOH too, which I also operate with my third spare hand. All original content was created in my studio in Dublin and the graphics are primarily live, but we are adding more pre-composed content as we go.”
BUCKING THE TREND
For the UK dates of the tour Taylor needed to hire in lighting and sound suppliers and chose to buck the trend of using the major players. “We didn’t want to be just another tour and another artist,” he explained. “APR in the south west have an amazing attitude to sound and have a can do outlook. And it’s because you are important to them, they put in everything that we needed. You deal with a real life person, who is on the gig. That is getting harder and harder to find. Matt from APR was at the gig looking at how we worked and was suggesting small changes that he could make that would make everything a little smother for both of us. That’s a great customer service.
Taylor had a similar experience with the lighting equipment on tour, having chosen Siyan on recommendation from friends. “Again, nothing is a problem for them. The lighting was quite literally brand new, the price was amazing and we had a Steve Finch from Siyan coming in to check everything was OK. The industry is changing, so many companies are going to the wall and so many customers are driving the prices down. I think it’s important to build solid partnerships with the next generation of big companies.”
LOOKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
On a tour that took a new direction and overcame challenges, the audio set-up was the biggest victory for Taylor. He added: “It’s very easy to throw money at something and hope it cures it, but we have found a set-up that was almost made for this. It was so compact that I took the FOH and monitor desks in flight cases along with the stage rack, multi, all the mics clamps and clips and the recording set-up in the back of my car. It really is insane.”
Managing to cut costs without hammering down suppliers or lowering the quality of the production was the ultimate achievement for Rodrigo y Gabriela’s team. Concluded Taylor: “We have looked outside the box and considered things that save us money or that improve what we do at no cost. The more we save, the more we tour.
“The audience experience shouldn’t suffer because all the budget was spent on a load of kit that isn’t needed, resulting in less lights or poorer video. We’re humbled that we were still able to sell out every show and even in these hard times, people still find the cash to come and see the show. And by the looks of it, we are still blowing people away!”
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