The first four days of the new year found more than 65,000 college-aged Christians from around the globe flocking to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome for Passion 2013, an annual conference of message and music that just raised over 3.3 million dollars to combat slavery and human trafficking worldwide.
Hosted by Passion City Church Founders Louie and Shelley Giglio, this year’s event drew students from 56 countries and 2,300 universities and featured a long list of top Contemporary performers, including Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman, Kari Jobe, Lacrae, Jesus Culture and numerous other artists, alongside notable evangelical speakers like John Piper, Judah Smith, Francis Chan and Louie Giglio, himself.
With a 50 percent increase in attendees anticipated for this year, Giglio’s Choice Ministries and Passion Conferences hired UK-based management company Black & White Live to oversee all production aspects of the event. To properly accommodate Passion 2013’s demanding sound reinforcement needs, Rat Sound Systems of Camarillo, CA was awarded the bid and supplied a full L-ACOUSTICS system comprised of 108 K1, 96 V-DOSC, 36 KARA and 24 dV-DOSC elements, 40 SB28 sub enclosures, and 31 LA-RAK amplifier racks.
“Last year’s Passion Conference attracted 42,000 students, so the Georgia Dome was set up in a half-house, end-stage configuration,” says Rat Sound’s Jon Monson. “This year, however, over 65,000 students attended, so everything was mapped out from the start as a full 360-degree, in-the-round event.”
The main PA consisted of eight K1 arrays–six with 14 enclosures, and two with 12–flown above the circular stage area, each paired with either three or six KARA cabinets below for down-fill. Three LA-RAKs were additionally positioned on the K-Bump rigging bar above each of the arrays to maximize floor space down below.
For low-end reinforcement, 40 SB28 subwoofers were evenly distributed in groups of four around the outer ring of the stage and powered by 10 LA8.
On stage, LA8-powered 115XT HiQ wedges paired with SB18 subs served as monitors, while six tiny KIVA and ten larger dV-DOSC were deployed as front-fills on the outer and inner rings, respectively.
For delay, Rat Sound flew a ring of a dozen eight-box V-DOSC arrays powered by LA Series amplifiers to address the Dome’s upper seating areas.
According to Rat Crew Chief Ron Kimball, one of the primary challenges coming into this event was that the Georgia Dome was hosting an Atlanta Falcons game on December 30 and the college football Chick-Fil-A bowl on December 31, which meant that load-in couldn’t begin until 1:00 a.m. on January 1–the first day of Passion 2013. With that in mind, the team did an initial load-in and production rehearsal from December 6 through 11, after which they struck and stored the entire system until January 1st.
“When we started re-loading the system back in, we knew we were up against the clock at all times,” Kimball notes. “There were only 16 hours until the doors opened and all of the various departments–staging, rigging, lighting, video and so on–certainly had their work cut out for them. But knowing how easy the L-ACOUSTICS system would fly–especially with the flown amp racks, which eliminated long speaker cable runs–I told production that they would not be waiting on audio, and they didn’t!”
When the doors finally opened later that day and the PA roared to life, the sound and coverage were superb–exactly as Rat System Engineer Dan Bowers’ SOUNDVISION model had predicted and the rehearsal three weeks prior had confirmed.
“We had lots of kids coming up to front-of-house saying how great it sounded, and the Rat Sound tweet vine got loads of good comments,” recalls Andrew Gilchrist, Rat’s key PA tech. “But best of all, Ian Cattle, the production manager at Black & White Live, said that the client was happier than ever.”
Passion Conferences Production Manager Jonathan Sheehan concurs: “Prior to Passion 2013, we had been told by many people that what we were trying to do was simply impossible. There wouldn’t be enough time to set everything up, and if it somehow did get set up, it wouldn’t work well. Another one of the things that people said to us the whole time was that nothing ever sounds very good in the Dome because it’s just a big bowl and sound bounces all around in there.”
“But during the very last session at the end of the conference, I was down front worshipping with some of our team and I had tears in my eyes because it just sounded so amazingly good. Despite all of the challenges and impossibilities, everything had come together just in time. It was such a miracle and so exciting to be a part of.”
For more details on Passion Conferences, visit www.268generation.com.
Additional Rat Sound crew not previously mentioned include stage techs Brett Heet and Casey McDaniel, and PA techs Billy Flores, Chuck Smith and Mike Gadziack. Rat Sound Systems can be found online at www.ratsound.com