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  • Writer's pictureSound Effects

Sunburn Still Burning Bright

Source: ETA - Entertainment Technology Asia

Publishing Date: February 2022

Page: 36, 37, 38 & 39

SoundEffects by Uday Shah and Spectrum Sound & Lights ensure upbeat festival experience for audience despite the leaner version of event

With the pandemic and government mandated safety restrictions throwing a spanner in the works for the event industry in 2020 – dance music festivals undoubtedly emerged as being one among the worst hit. While fans missed out on the jam-packed action of music revelry, organizers and artists missed out on crucial work and business opportunities from such festivals which have been known to comprise a major portion of annual earnings. One such festival that has usually been awaited with baited breath is Sunburn – India’s premier electronic dance music festival that has been ranked among the biggest and best in the world.

About Sunburn

Started in 2007 as a 3 day music festival in Goa, Sunburn has grown to become an aspirational lifestyle brand boasting an eclectic mix of music, entertainment, experiences and celebration that has seeded music tourism in India. Over the past 15 years, Sunburn has grown from being a music festival to now including intellectual properties like Sunburn Reload, Sunburn Arena and Sunburn Campus formats – all of which have enabled a wide geographical and demographic reach pan India and abroad. During this period of time, the brand has garnered the distinction of having brought down to India the world’s top 10 DJs on a consistent basis – as it coalesced renowned International and Indian artists to entertain hundreds of thousands of dance music lovers. In addition to spotlighting India's best-known electronic music acts, the festival has hosted the likes of Paul Oakenfold, David Guetta, Carl Cox and several more, who graced the stage as headlining acts over the years. And in doing so, the festival has helped position India as a serious dance festival destination

to the world. Additionally, Sunburn has also made its successful debut overseas across Colombo, Sri Lanka; Khatmandu, Nepal; Dubai; Muscat; and Melbourne, Australia, thereby creating history to become the first successful indigenous Music IP to cross international shores.

Sunburn 2021 in the Works

With the 15th edition of the mega dance festival unable to take place as originally scheduled in 2020; all expectations rested on 2021 to finally deliver the kind of high-quality music experience that audiences and artists had long been waiting for. The organizers – Percept Live – slated dates from 27th to 29th December 2021 in Goa, with the artist line-up announced in advance sporting over 60 local and international acts including global psytrance maestros Vini Vici, along with a massive flavour of deep house and techno by the iconic English duo Camelphat and the festival’s beloved artist KSHMR; in addition to Italian techno hotshot Deborah De Luca, and Dutch trance legend Armin van Buuren.

Meticulous considerations were put in place to ensure the safety of all attendees amidst the ongoing health situation, which included mandated precautions like double vaccination of all the participants, in addition to provisions for sanitization at the venue.

However, the growing loom of the Omicron variant forced organizers to make certain key changes to the itinerary; with the format being altered to host day performances rather than a typical festival program. This was also accompanied by a change in the original venue – with the festival being moved to a private club in Vagator called “HillTop”, in order to allow the organizers to proceed with a major chunk of the event schedule as planned, while conforming to government mandated rules. In an effort to ensure that the changes didn’t completely dampen audience spirits, the organizers also announced a massive list of after-parties titled ‘Sunburn Goa 2021 After Dark’, which were scheduled from 10pm onwards on each day of the event, and featured several electronic music stars.

Bringing About the Big Festival Feels…

While the organizers did stick to their promise of delivering the artist line-up as announced in advance – these operational changes that came into effect at essentially the last moment, did have a ripple effect on the technical reinforcement that was originally chalked in for the festival.

The re-envisioned festival retained the original plan of three distinct performance stages – with each of the individual stages located a fair distance away from each other and positioned in such a way that neither the sound nor the lighting/visuals from any of the performance stages interfered with the other. That being said – the technical systems for each of the performance stages had to be scaled appropriately to meet the new event stage design, while making sure that the audience would still enjoy a top-notch dance music experience, despite its limited capacity. And this was most evident in the audio architecture that adorned the festival sported this year; which in many respects was viewed as a rather lean version of the usual mammoth productions that has usually been associated with Sunburn in previous years.

“For a festival like Sunburn and the kind of vibe that it has delivered year on year – when the new schedule for the festival was eventually confirmed at HillTop, we recognized that deploying the JBL VTX V25-II along with G28 & S28 subs would be the perfect solution, given the physical extent of the main stage performance zone, the dimensions of the stage itself, the pedigree of artists scheduled to perform there, and of course, the audience capacity that was chalked in for the space. With tonnes of headroom being the key requirement for the space – the JBL VTX system turned out to be absolutely apt owing to its undoubtedly powerful and clean sonic performance, wide audio coverage patterns, sublime reproduction of high frequency fidelity with almost no distortion, and most importantly – the capacity to offer more than double the power handling. Plus, the line array calculator(LAC) tool, made it super easy for us to map out the flying points in relatively no time, and have the system up and running quickly” reveals Uday Shah, director of Pune-based equipment rental service company – SoundEffects by Uday Shah – who were entrusted with the responsibility of commissioning the sound reinforcement solution for the main stage performance section (named Tower of Electron).

The SoundEffects team deployed a total of 12 modules of the JBL VTX V25-II line-arrays along with 3 units of the JBL VTX S28 Subs on each side of the stage flanks to comprise the FOH reinforcement. Additionally, a total of 18 units of the JBL VTX G28 Subs coupled with 4 modules of the JBL VTX V25-II were deployed as centre fills, with appropriate time alignment engaged between each of the individual units and with the principal FOH system. Multiple units of the JBL VTX V25-II paired with JBL VTX S28 subs were also deployed as out fills on each side of the stage; while JBL STX825 loudspeakers coupled with STX828s subs were commissioned at the VIP Areas on each side. The entire loudspeakers reinforcement solution was powered through multiple units of the i-Tech 12000HD power amplifiers from Crown; with the on-stage artist monitoring solution comprising V8 loudspeakers paired with Vsubs from d&b audiotechnik.

“As a system, the JBL VTX is amazing. We had a great deal of headroom to work with during the event, and this allowed for the performances to be as energetic as the artist intended, without ever compromising on quality. The fact that we had compliments pouring in from not just the artists and the organizers, but also the audience in general, had us feeling absolutely stoked. We’d really like to thank Amit Jadhav, Manuj Agarwal, and Karan Singh from Percept Live for allowing us the opportunity to work on this amazing project along with our respected industry peers Emran Khan – Head of Production, and Shipra Venkatesh – Technical Producer. The entire experience for the SoundEffects team was truly phenomenal!” exclaims Uday.

The festival’s senior management too heap praises about the quality of service rendered by the SoundEffects team, as Sunburn CEO Karan Singh shares, “We have had an association with Sound Effects by Uday Shah for over a decade, working with their team on several festivals & live events. We were confident that Mr Shah's vast experience and knowledge of the equipment would make him a valuable collaborator. He and his team certainly went above & beyond to ensure a flawless sound setup of the main stage for Sunburn 2021”.

With the SoundEffects team focusing their attention on the main stage performance area – the team of Goa based rental solutions company Spectrum Sound & Lights were called upon to provide the necessary sound reinforcement for the other two performance stages i.e. the Secret Garden of Solaris (Techno stage) and the Chill-Out stage. As Spectrum’s director Renzil Rodrigues informs, “When the festival was announced, things were still quite uncertain owing to the pandemic situation; and it was pretty much a touch-n-go situation till the very last month. However, when we received a call from Ms Shipra and Mr Emran regarding their need to commission two of the performance stages, our team quickly sprung into action as our system engineers commissioned a detailed recce of the venue to follow through on some crucial analysis that helped us lock in a precise L’Acoustics line array system for the Secret Garden of Solaris stage, while opting to equip the Chillout Stage with a decisive line array system from Sound Capital Pro Audio.”

In total, the Spectrum team deployed a cumulate of 12 modules of the dV-DOSC line arrays along with dV subs and SB218 subwoofers as the principal FOH system at the Secret Garden of Solaris stage, which was the second largest performance section at the venue. Loudspeakers from the ARCS series were deployed as centre fills and side fills, and also additionally deployed to fulfil the on-stage artist monitoring exigencies. The entire system was powered through multiple units of the LA48a power amplifiers from L’Acoustics, with system control and management achieved through multiple units of Dolby Lake processors along with an AVID SC48 digital mixing console.

On the other hand, the Chillout stage, which was the smallest performance section at the venue, featured a total of 12 modules of the Q1000 line array loudspeakers from Sound Capital that were complimented by matching pair SC8000 subwoofers from Sound Capital, to together comprise the FOH reinforcement. Multiple units of the Q1000 loudspeakers were also deployed as front fills, whereas multiple units of the HDL30 loudspeakers from RCF were matched with SC1200 single subwoofers to form the side-fill reinforcement solution. The entire loudspeaker system was powered through multiple i-Tech power amplifiers from Crown, with system control and management achieved with multiple units of the XTA 448 processors along with the SQ6 digital mixing console.

“This being the 3rd time for Spectrum to be associated with the Sunburn brand – it’s been a positive experience overall for our team to continue consolidating our working relationship with Percept, and bring together yet another a flawless event production. Despite the operational challenges and extremely short turn-around time expectations, the event progressed smoothly with a seamless audio experience that was appreciated by the organizers as well as the crowd in general!”

Future Implications

Sunburn 2021 could not present itself in the fullest extent of its former glory in terms of scale. However, the fact that the event did come together to successfully offer the “big festival feels” despite its limited capacity; is testimony to how it has presented a ray of hope and positivity to not just fans of electronic music and festival culture, but also members of the event production and technical services fraternity. With the success of Sunburn 2021, it gives hope to other music festivals to stay alive by assuring audiences of high-quality music experiences – in a smaller yet precisely executed capacity albeit.

Harman Professional


Sound Capital Pro Audio

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ETA - Entertainment Technology Asia (February 2022)
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