Bon Iver: Santa Barbara Bowl

Photo courtesy of Matt Benton

Project Description

Over the past decade, Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon has emerged from the woods of Wisconsin as one of modern music’s most inventive songsmiths. Although his group’s musical path may have started out sounding something more akin to folk music, Vernon’s trajectory over the course of his last couple of records has explored everything from rustic chamber pop to haunting, textural collages of vocoders and electronica. The group’s albums are Grammy Award-winning, but their reputation for giving extraordinary live shows is even stronger. None of the performance is pre-recorded or set to timecode. Everything is done live—organically and dynamically—by the band, which never plays the same set twice.

After being invited to the L-ISA studio in Westlake Village, CA, a collective decision was made to stage a Bon Iver performance using L-ISA at the Santa Barbara Bowl, which has previously hosted the successful first L-ISA performance in North America, for ODESZA.

Sound Design Solution

For Bon Iver’s unique Bowl performance, a flown 7.1 L-ISA configuration comprised of three center hangs of eight L-Acoustics K2 plus four Kara down paired with two adjacent hangs of 14 Kara for the five-array Scene system. This arrangement was flanked by two outer hangs of nine Kara enclosures each for the Extension system, while a dozen KS28 subs were flown in two cardioid arrays directly behind the center K2 hangs for focused LF. Nine coaxial X8 spread across the stage lip delivered front-fill, while two ARCS II on either side of the stage supplied coverage for the fans on the extreme sides of the stage. L-Acoustics LA8 and LA12X amplified controllers powered all of the enclosures, and a pair of L-ISA Processors at FOH generated the show’s spatialization.

L-ISA Design L-ISA Design
L/R Design L/R Design
L-ISA Design L-ISA Design
L/R Design L/R Design

Technical Information

Type4500 pax Outdoor amphitheatre
Venue60m deep x 70m wide (at the back)
Stage19m wide x 1.1m high

Constraints

Top max trim height 10.7m (above floor)
Min trim height 7m (above floor)
Max weight7.8m (per hang)

Sound Design Target

Program typeElectronic Music
SPL max average>= 108 dBA
SPL profile1 dB / 10 m
Frequency contour8 – 10 dB (@ 100hz)

L/R Coverage

Strong Imaging

Weak Imaging

L-ISA Coverage

Strong Imaging

Weak Imaging

“Bon Iver’s show elevated my notion of what Bowl shows can be”

— Santa Barbara Independent newspaper

“Justin noticed that there were very few cell phones out during this show, which means that people were totally ‘in the moment’ and engaged. With L-ISA, it’s all very intimate.”

— Xand Whitesel, Bon Iver FOH