LD Systems Adorn Lollapalooza Main Stages

LD Systems provides audio and lighting for the two main stages on the return of the famed Chicago festival. Audio Operation Manager, Thomas Ruffner speaks to TPi about this year’s PA deployment.

Taking place in Grant Park, Chicago, after a year hiatus, Lollapalooza welcomed back around 100,000 people to witness headline sets from Foo Fighters, Tyler, The Creator, and Post Malone. Marking its eighth year with the festival, LD Systems was back providing an audio and lighting solution for the two main stages – the T-Mobile and Bud Light stages.

Having handled the audio delivery at the festival’s main stages for the past three years, LD Systems’ Thomas Ruffner explained that there was a decent amount of “rinse and repeat’’ when it came to the PA configuration.

“We’ve got a good game plan when it comes to the Lollapalooza weekend and know roughly how many trucks it’s going to take and how much PA we’re going to deploy. Thankfully, the festival didn’t have any major infrastructural changes, so our roadmap from previous years stood us in good stead.”

For both stages, the system of choice was L-Acoustics. For the T-Mobile stage, the main hang on each side comprised four K1SBs over 16 K1s and four K2s, a sub hang of eight K1SBs flown behind each array with the out hang of six K1s over six K2s.

The ground subs comprised 32 KS28s with front fills of 16 KARAs. There were six delay hangs in total, comprising six K1s per hang.

“L-Acoustics is one of the most widely accepted PAs and the fact that the speaker system is used on so many other festivals around the world is a testament to its quality,” stated Ruffner. “The T-Mobile stage in particular needs a 1,000ft of throw with a 300ft-wide horizontal coverage area. It’s a massive flat grassy area, but with a 24-box L-Acoustic hang on each side, you can get pretty far. It’s those aspects of the gig that really play into the decision of what PA to use and how many boxes.”

L-Acoustics was also chosen for the Bud Light stage. The main hang consisted of four K1SBs over 12 K1s and four K2s per side with a sub hang of eight K1SBs flown behind the main array. The out hangs were made up of four K1s and eight K2s per side. Elsewhere on the rig were 40 SB28s, front fills of 12 KARAs with three delay hangs of eight K2s.

With such a large flat venue, audio spill was always going to be somewhat of an issue although according to Ruffner, the team was more than up for the challenge.

“If you’re standing on the T-Mobile stage, you can barely see the banner of the Bud Light stage, but the low end certainly travels. On one night when we had Tyler, The Creator on the main stage while Marshmello was on the Bud Light stage, there was certainly some low end coming from Bud Light making its way to T-Mobile, but it was between stage interaction and minimal compared to some other festivals we work on.”

At FOH and monitors, LD Systems supplied Avid Venue Profiles with an Electro-Voice N8000 as a console summation system. “We’re fairly traditional with our signal distribution to the PA,” stated Ruffner. “We don’t have to get too complicated with any network audio and all our cable runs are under 100m, so a normal Cat5 and copper is good enough.”

As this was one of biggest shows he had done since COVID-19, Ruffner explained how he and the rest of the crew had coped. “We’re lucky as a company in that we’ve stayed relatively busy; especially in the first half of this year, with numerous graduation ceremonies – some of which were really quite large.”

Ruffner also pointed to a large, 4 July project, which gave the crew a chance to “shake the rust off”.

He continued: “I think everyone from LD Systems was excited and understood the gravity of this project and what it would mean for the future of other events. My team at T-Mobile were exceptional; their endurance was fantastic throughout the weekend. Festivals are long and stressful, but my guys never get tired.”

The T-Mobile team from LD was made up of Monitor Systems Engineer, Jimmy Steinke; Lead Patch and Stage Technician, Trevor Schumann and A2 Stage Technicians, Josh Rodriguez and Tony Luna. Meanwhile, the Bud Light team comprised Audio Crew Chief and Systems Engineer, Rafael Rosales; Monitor Systems Engineer, Kendall Hayward; Lead Patch and Stage Technician, Bryan Woodall and A2 Stage Technician, Jozef Rodriguez.

Following on from Lollapalooza, LD Systems had its sights set on several other outdoor festivals, mostly notably Austin City Limits and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

This article originally appeared in issue #265 of TPi, which you can read here.