Sound Shack Studios

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Howard University – Yards Fest ’16

Last October, Howard University Homecoming, Yardfest, kicked off the school season with a bang. Klassic Sound & Stage was proud to provide all of the lighting, staging and audio for some huge acts like rappers Common and Fabulous, R&B singer Faith Evans and rising hip hop star Lil Uzi Vert. It was Klassic’s biggest job of the season, and judging by the energy of the crowd, they were killing the production on all fronts. This was, of course, mostly thanks to the talented artists, but having a quality setup on their Stageline SL320 mobile stage didn’t hurt either. The stage was thumping the whole way through, with their top-of-the-line equipment bringing sweet beats to the ears of thousands of eager party goers.

It’s not easy to get the sound setup right for an enormous outdoor stage set up for a free public show—for the crowds, artists, and tech crews alike, sound at open air gigs can be notoriously difficult. Between weather interruptions, setup problems, and sound mixing between multi-artist sets, these types of concerts can certainly be tricky. But with the best equipment and talent, stellar sound is possible even in tough conditions. They  were thankful to have the JBL VRX series state-of-the-art portable sound system for the their front and side fills. 

JBL Subwoofers at Howard University (copyright

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Photo Taken By: David Gourdine

The Avid SC48 portable mixer setup gave the sound techs full access to balance the mix of pre-produced beats with live beats, plus various vocal ranges and stylings. Beats and mixers had to be on cue for these artists, or the songs just wouldn’t work. Rapper Common brought his upbeat, inspiring hip hop sounds to the stage and kept the crowds pumped with the socially relevant, racial commentary hit, “Black America Again.” Fists pumped and arms waved to the beat in solidarity. The sound had to be crystal clear for this important spoken word piece on gang violence and racism—and judging from the crowds’ reactions, it clearly hit home.

The JBL VRX floor and side fill monitors handled stage sound just like Faith Evans sang: clear and right on cue, with the perfect mix of grace and pomp. Faith is a serious heavy-hitter and well-known veteran in the hip hop scene (though she doesn’t look it), with several Grammy nominations under her belt on hits like Faithfully and Gone Already. Her unmistakable soprano stylings and high energy kept the crowd smiling even through an unexpected rainstorm. Thanks to the specialized stacking of our the JBL sound setup, the crowd had clear sight lines of the R&B goddess and were able to sing along without missing one moment of her unforgettable performance. The Washington Post has a collection of great photos that puts everything into perspective. The Sound Shack music photographers had a field day, some of our best shots were taken at this event. 

Lil Uzi Vert brought home some super high energy hip hop and mixed beats, shaking the crowds with crisp sound all the way to the back of the house. And just as a streak of afternoon sunlight graced the audience, rapper Fabulous brought it home with some pretty heavy bass which thankfully was handled with minimal distortion by the stackable JBL VTX G28 subwoofers. Possibly the biggest highlight of the day was a surprise appearance by award-winning rapper Wale, who worked the crowd hard with a super high energy performance filled with signature heavy vocals and disco-influenced beats. I slept on Wale for awhile, but his performance at Howard had me checking for tour dates. Judging by the way the crowds were dancing and buzzing all day long, there’s no doubt that Klassic Sound & Stage setup held its own at one of the best free events of the season.  


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