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Behind the Scenes @ WayHome and Boots & Hearts with VER

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
Jazz Cartier at WayHome 2017 by Mark Matusoff

Jazz Cartier at WayHome 2017 by Mark Matusoff

Canadian Musician‘s Samantha Everts & Mark Matusoff were on the ground for the 2017 edition of the WayHome Music & Arts festival, and we’ve got plenty of great photos and coverage coming your way. In the meantime, we connected with Erik Paquette of VER, the company that supplies the production technologies for WayHome and the upcoming Boots & Hearts country-focused festival, to find out what goes on behind the scenes to deliver these special events to tens of thousands of fans.

VER offers equipment and services for various kinds of organizations and events internationally. VER’s team at WayHome and Boots & Hearts, led by Erik Paquette, is responsible for noise monitoring, equipment procurement, and AV services.  Established 35 years ago, VER operates on six continents and executes more than 50 individual productions daily.

CM: Give us an idea of your responsibilities at the festivals, both leading up to the events and while on the ground.

Erik Paquette: My job starts months before being on site. We start with designing the best audio system for the festival.  A lot is taken into consideration here, starting with ensuring the audience gets the best sound possible in the concert bowl.  After we have designed the system, we then start working with the touring acts to be sure all their touring systems are integrated with our system flawlessly.

While onsite, it’s mostly about managing all the last minute requests and curve balls that inevitably come up during a large-scale outdoor festival.  This is the fun part.

CM: Approximately how many people do you have on your team each year, and which tasks take the most time and technicians?

EP: This year, we will have 18 audio technicians onsite to operate and maintain the systems.

CM: Tell us a bit about the gear you’ve got onsite, and anything in particular you use to ensure the best possible experience.

EP: This year’s [sound] systems are all [from German high-end loudspeaker manufacturer] d&b audiotechnik.

My favourite piece is the Array Calc program that is used with the d&b systems. This enables us to virtually [configure] the system to ensure all the angles and placements will deliver the best and most consistent sound throughout the venue.  This “homework” also leads to less troubleshooting on site.

CM: What is the most challenging part of working on the festivals for you and your team?

EP: Weather!

CM: You mentioned noise monitoring earlier – how does that work and what does it entail?

EP: We have been working very closely with the town [of Oro-Medonte, ON] as well as acoustical engineers to generate a sound monitoring plan. We have used information gained from last year to design the best system for the audience while also mitigating any unwanted frequencies offsite.  We are doing offsite monitoring to lessen the disruption to the town, as well as self regulating inside the concert bowl.

CM: From start to finish, how much time do you invest to make these events happen?

EP: The planning stages for the festival generally start during the previous festival.  We really start getting into the major logistics of everything starting in January.

CM: Do you have any advice for people who are looking to get into the industry?

EP: Work ethic is the most important thing to me.  Hard work always pays off.

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