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Venue Spotlight: Historic Clyde Theatre Reborn

mercredi 11 juillet 2018, 19:00 , par Sweetwater inSync
Sweetwater’s hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a booming city. With a growing downtown and more young professionals moving into the city, you can feel this former rust-belt town’s vibrant electricity as you make your way through its boulevards and avenues. But there was one notable omission in the city’s burgeoning arts culture — a high-quality, mid-level concert venue. That was, until Sweetwater’s Chuck and Lisa Surack got involved with a local project — the Clyde Theatre.
The Clyde, as it’s commonly called, is a former movie house that was built in 1951 but had closed its doors and fallen into disrepair. Even though the space sat empty through the last few decades, it waited patiently for the day it would be rediscovered. That day came in 2012 when a local entrepreneur, Rick Kinney, purchased the Clyde for just $500 at a tax sale. Kinney spent five years attempting to gather enough support to reopen the venue, but it was only when Sweetwater stepped into the project that the idea began to turn into reality.
Today, the Clyde lives again as a Fort Wayne cultural hub and state-of-the-art live music venue and special event facility, filling a need for this city of music. To renovate the dilapidated Clyde Theatre and bring it into the present, Sweetwater’s Chuck and Lisa Surack vastly expanded the scope of the original vision. The goal of creating a premier concert locale for both patrons and entertainers drove everything from the carefully tuned acoustic design of the performance hall, executed by Russ Berger of Russ Berger Design Group of Dallas, Texas, to the amazing sound system, contemporary lighting, and highly trained and courteous staff that was hired. Upon arrival, you’ll see that no expense was spared. As soon as you enter the Clyde’s front doors, you are welcomed with a beautiful, open foyer and bar area. Head upstairs, and you’ll find an exclusive VIP section that not only boasts its own bar and refreshments but also an art gallery displaying fine pieces from artists around Fort Wayne.
But the real fun begins as you stroll into the Clyde’s main concert hall. You will be astounded at the breathtaking, surprising size of the hall. Its design easily holds over 2,000 excited standing concertgoers (over 800 seated) and boasts a bar area at the rear of the hall.
Shawn Dealey
But controlling a room that size to attain the pristine audio that Sweetwater wanted was no easy task. That is why Sweetwater hired Shawn Dealey as the Production Manager for the Clyde, to help guide the implementation of technology and personnel and put his experienced stamp of approval over every aspect of the customer experience.
Dealey, who came to Sweetwater after a successful career as the live sound engineer for such notable acts as Counting Crows, Santana, and Goo Goo Dolls, is well acquainted with what today’s technology can bring to a performance. His knowledge of sound design, lighting, and the needs of touring acts that are crossing the country made him the perfect candidate to help specify the exact equipment, software, and sound reinforcement technology the Clyde required to meet the high expectations placed upon the venue.
Recently, Dealey sat down to chat about his role at the Clyde, the acoustic engineering that went into bringing the room up to speed, and the gear he chose to make sure you hear every note loud and clear.
SW: Tell us about your role at the Clyde Theatre. What’s a day or week in your life like?
SD: Production Manager at the Clyde is my title. When we’re in full show mode, doing three to five shows a week, it’s crazy. The Ghost show was our biggest show. We had their whole lighting rig and video wall in with huge set pieces. That was a 17-hour day. With a couple of those in a week, your week gets pretty long really quick. We have two to three shows a week scheduled.
Launching a venue like this is a massive undertaking. Now that the venue has a few high-profile shows under its belt, are things beginning to fall into place?
Definitely. Getting it going and getting it open was a big job. I hired a staff of 25 people for the stage crew, because I had some shows where I needed 16 stage hands, so I needed the depth there. But now we’re running pretty lean where we’re doing four, six, or eight people on call. It’s a lot easier to deal with. We’re planning to ramp up to larger productions. In the first few months we had shows including Asleep at the Wheel and the Wailers.
The Clyde’s PA and technology are all top-shelf. What gear did you choose for audio, and why?
There was a baseline set out by All Pro Sound in conjunction with Sweetwater. The integration of it all was designed by All Pro. And Sound Marketing and Harman also had a hand in the install. But with a lot of it, I came in and tried to consult and find out what pieces of the puzzle were missing — what we still needed. But since we opened, we’ve adjusted a few things to make the workflow as fluid and easy and efficient as possible.

Coming into it and knowing what the PA was, I was super excited. I had yet to hear the new JBL VTX A12 rig. And it’s one of my favorite PAs I’ve ever heard.
The consoles — two Avid S6Ls — those were my choice. I did a bunch of market research on them and came to the conclusion that a lot of touring guys were still asking for, and using, the Avid products. And they had just announced that they would be supporting that platform with a whole bunch of new consoles, so it was something Avid was definitely behind.

It translates very well to touring artists, because they’re able to import their older Avid Venue show files. We also have Waves plug-in integration. It’s pretty cool how that all ports over from shows that could be seven or eight years old. You can open them up and have all your plug-ins show up and work. We have a great relationship with Waves here. And I was an Avid user when I was touring. So it made sense for me.
Was the Clyde’s system designed to be expandable into the future?
Yes. This year (2018), Avid released five new consoles. The product line is currently being developed. So there are new releases and different upgrades available. And because of our relationship with Avid, they’re trying to get us the new stuff as soon as they can and integrate the new software features so we can have all of that at our fingertips.

What is it about the JBL VTX A12 PA that you like so much?
It’s very easy to control, sounds really balanced, and has great coverage throughout the room. There is minimal work you have to do with EQ to get the PA to sound how it should.
The room design is great, and the installation was supervised by Russ Berger and his acoustic design team. So once we got the PA up, it was a simple process of some tasteful EQ and then timing some of the subs and front fills. Every engineer that has been in the building since has left with a huge smile. That makes it easy to hand over the PA to touring engineers to just mix. They turn it on, and they’re happy. That says a lot for what it’s doing.
Tell me about what Russ Berger brought to the acoustics of the room.
It’s a weird room because of the way it’s designed. It’s lower and smaller in the back of the room. But Russ did a great job of calming down some of the room’s quirks. We do have a lot of PA, so it can get really loud. But at quieter shows, it’s super detailed. Fitz and the Tantrums were one of the first shows here, and it was one of the best-sounding shows I’ve ever heard. You could hear everything, everywhere.

There was Pyrok StarSilent acoustical plaster that was put in the ceiling, and there was a bunch of soft acoustic absorption in the corners of the room. And half of the back wall is a blow-through acoustic wall. So the fronts of the VIP booths don’t have a solid wall, allowing your legs to feel the low end come through. In the sub cavity, there’s acoustic treatment as well.
What were some of the challenges in trying to put a state-of-the-art concert venue into an older movie theater?
I’ve been through so many theaters that have been converted to live, amplified performance venues. And the old 1920s or 1930s movie theaters, the acoustics are made for unamplified music. So having the chance to use a PA like the JBL A12 and set it up properly to control the pattern and coverage has been great.
We have it only hitting the last few feet of the back wall. So it’s not blasting into it. The coverage trails off into the back bar. And we have delay fills above the VIP section, so there’s not a whole lot of energy that’s reflecting. With a box like that, the control over the coverage is pretty precise. As long as you do the prediction properly, you can make the sound go precisely where you want it and eliminate a lot of the reflections. Even the angles of the PA box are calculated with a software that JBL has for their array calculations. So once you figure out the top box angle and where it’s going to go, calculate all the angles, and take measurements to where the floor is, then you can shape the PA to where it offers uniform coverage from front to back. That’s not groundbreaking — it’s pretty standard practice in large-scale line array PAs. But it works well. And being able to have that control in a room like this makes the mixer’s life a lot easier.
I’m sure that the superb sound quality is a big part of the Clyde’s success right out of the gate.
I would say we’re very successful so far. Audio wise, I couldn’t ask for a better venue. I’ve been to a lot of mid-sized theaters and big venues that are really hard to control. This is one of the easiest rooms I’ve ever mixed in. With the lighting stuff, it’s been positive and the shows have looked good. So far, concertgoers have been very happy. And sonically, it’s been super positive, and there hasn’t been any criticism.

We’ve had really good feedback from all of the touring parties, all the patrons, and that means people are showing up. There’s a group of three guys that have driven down from Chicago for three shows. They’re avid concertgoers, and they love this venue. People are realizing what a great venue it is and having a good time and really enjoying the shows. It makes the Clyde a destination. And it makes it so people don’t have to leave Fort Wayne to enjoy a great show.

If you’re in Fort Wayne or the vicinity, including cities within a short drive like Chicago, Detroit, or Indianapolis, we encourage you to come check out the Sweetwater-powered Clyde Theatre, the Midwest’s best new performance venue. We think you’ll be impressed.
For a list of upcoming shows, check out the Clyde Theatre’s website:
The post Venue Spotlight: Historic Clyde Theatre Reborn appeared first on inSync.
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