FOH Engineer, Greg Bess has worked with The Offspring for 26 years, yet his relationship with Britannia Row Productions dates back even further – four decades and counting.
“The first time I contacted Brit Row was in 1979, when I wanted to drop in on Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ tour,” he recalled. “I’m proud to say that I’ve now known Bryan Grant for longer than I haven’t!”
Fresh from summer festivals, The Offspring – whose members comprise lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Bryan ‘Dexter’ Holland, bassist Todd Morse, drummer Brandon Pertzborn and lead guitarist Kevin ‘Noodles’ Wasserman – embarked on a North American tour in support of 10th studio album, Let the Bad Times Roll.
Venues included Irvine’s FivePoint Amphitheatre, the USANA Amphitheatre in Utah and Jones Beach Amphitheatre. To prepare, Bess called upon Britannia Row once again for his ultimate PA delivery – an L-Acoustics K1 system. He continued: “We used the same configuration that Britannia Row supplied for our highly successful European arena tour earlier this summer.”
Out front, he hits the faders on his own analogue console, bringing the roaring warmth of the band’s guitar-driven works to the live stage via an ATI Paragon II P2P – the production version, and a custom API master section.
“There’s an awful lot that happens in music, between samples, and with digital there’s too much guessing and interpolating for my taste,” he explained. “Then there’s the issue of summing… you might have a channel or two that sound OK on a digital console, but by the time you sum everything together, it seems to lose life!”
The oldest desk Bess has in his collection is a 1978 Midas PRO-5, the newest being his ATI Paragon, originally launched in the 2000s. “They all have their own personalities and characters, and some are better suited to certain genres of music than others, but I love them all!”
He fittingly describes his outboard as ‘the island of misfit toys’, thanks in part to being a self-professed ‘diehard analogue guy’. Unsurprisingly, the plug-ins Bess favours are the kind you must plug in, including some valve gear, and ex broadcast units alongside the more standard AMS Neve, Lexicon reverbs and Drawmer processing. For vocals, frontman Dexter has recently moved onto Shure Axient RF digital handheld microphones with a 58 capsule.
Bess describes the sound of this live production arrangement in the way many would describe The Offspring: “straight up rock ‘n’ roll.” He elaborated: “My objective with any client is to convey to the audience exactly what the artist is playing. I’m not the fifth Beatle, or the producer or a DJ. My use of effects is minimal, unless it’s what would be on an album.”
The band’s anthems are delivered through the L-Acoustics K1 system, as requested in Bess’ fine-tuned touring preferences. “The K1 is just a fantastic box, there’s no hocus-pocus going on!” he remarked.
The configuration for the PA is K1 mains over K2, with flown K1SB. The two centre hangs are KARA down fills for the void in front of the stage at the larger venues. For ground coverage, KS28 and A15s complete the design.
“These are set up L-R / L-R, so that everyone in the audience can get the imaging and coverage that isn’t really achieved with lip and front fill. Side coverage is accomplished with K1SB over K2, again with the assignment flipped so that the off-axis audience can still get the proper image,” he explained.
To facilitate his vision, Bess credits Britannia Row Productions, and Director, Lez Dwight, with “always making sure that everything is working at 100%”. He concluded: “Britannia Row has, in my opinion, always been the world leader in both audio gear and in service. Their touring crew are top notch; they use their expertise to adapt in any situation. Our one-offs, where they supply different gear, nails this point home.”