QSC is the audio brand of choice for House of Vans’ – the live events counterpart of the legendary skatewear company, Vans – live events, which bring together bands, DJs, artists and skaters for concerts, workshops and art installations at its Chicago and London venues and pop-ups worldwide.
Vans’ North America lifestyle events manager, Chuck Radue, relies on live sound products from QSC, notably the TouchMix-30 Pro digital mixer, KW153 and K12.2 active loudspeakers, and KW181 active subwoofers.
Given the athletic and kinetic nature of House of Vans’ events, the ability of the TouchMix-30 Pro to be remotely controlled via an iOS or Android device is crucial. “That comes in handy everywhere,” Radue said. “We do an event here in Chicago called Sessions, where we have open skating, live street art, and several local bands. The audience can literally skateboard to the music, and needless to say, you don’t put a front-of-house mixing position in the middle of that. So, we often place the mixer stageside or in other less-than-ideal locations. Then, the engineer or I can roam around with an iPad and work the sound.”
The multi-track recording capabilities of the TouchMix serve two other types of events, which Radue explained. “For Share the Stage, bands showcase with us and we record all their tracks through the TouchMix, then put them to video. We present those videos to a guest artist or producer — last year it was Schoolboy Q — and the winning band gets to open for that artist at one of their House of Vans shows. Then we have our Sidestripe Sessions music content series, which can be found on Vans’ YouTube channel. These are videos with established and up-and-coming acts in a space designed to look like they’re playing inside a Vans shoebox. Again, everything goes through the TouchMix and then we just hand the hard drives off to the video department.”
At Vans’ global headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA, the “shoebox” set started out as a jam room for employee use, because “Vans is such a music-forward company and we really appreciate the arts.” To configure the space, Vans tapped Radue’s musical background. “Before I had this job I toured for about 17 years with a band called The Rapture,” he recalled. “As I learned about gear and did a lot of listening, I found myself recommending QSC over other PA brands. At Vans, I’m the resident audio nerd, so when the general manager said, ‘Chuck, we need a PA,’ everything that went in there was QSC.”
K12.2 loudspeakers serve as monitors in the shoebox and as the mains at House of Vans’ pop-up events. “We just put them all over the spaces,” noted Radue. “The coverage and clarity are incredible. The EQ presets built into the K.2 Series are always very useful. We find we can almost always optimise the sound to the room easily.”
Speaking about the mixer’s ease of use, Radue stated: “The TouchMix interface makes it incredibly fast to get a great sound for every instrument and vocal. At some events, we may have four or five bands playing four or five songs apiece, we’re sound-checking them on the fly, and we’re always very quickly able to dial in main and monitor mixes that please everyone.”
Radue also commented on the KW-centric system’s projection in venues much larger than a shoebox. “Last year we flew in artists from all over the world to an open-air party attended by about 600 people,” he recalled. “We brought out the larger system with the KW153 tops and KW181 subs. I was amazed at how well it transitioned from indoor to outdoor use with the size of the crowd.”