Elliot reflects on a year without Glastonbury and how he used load cells at West Holts in 2019
I’ve been involved with Glastonbury for five years and it’s an event I love. So this year, on what was meant to be the 50th anniversary of the festival, there’s a sadness across the industry and of course amongst the thousands of festival goers for whom it’s the highlight of their year. For the past two years I’ve been working for RG Jones as a sound engineer. I just turn up with a small bag of tools and my truck and awning ready for a busy but satisfying week.
RG Jones deploys Martin Audio loudspeakers across 4 major stages, including the iconic Pyramid Stage and the West Holts which is where I was based in 2019. My role as audio engineer involved installing the Loudspeaker system, all audio cabling, patch work, setting up of musical acts, line checks...the list goes on. It’s a fun few days on set building the rig, but once on set, it’s a fast paced but extremely rewarding time.
Given my ‘actual’ job is as a member of the Broadweigh team, I decided that in 2019, I would take along some Broadweigh kit with me to see for myself how it performs in a festival environment. Armed with 2 x Bluetooth shackles, I used them to monitor the loading and static weight of the delay towers, where two hangs of 16 MLA Compact were positioned 95 metres from the stage. The towers are rated to 2.5t to which the speaker hang was well under 50% of that. It was more to see the impact on lifting (small bump on the motor/ hoists), along with adding more weight. I also positioned a Broadweigh Wind Speed Sensor on top of the West Holts stage to monitor the fluctuations in the wind speed throughout the event.
The wind did pick up over a couple of the days, but, having the Wind Speed sensor in place, we could clearly see what the speed was along with the gust readings. This is invaluable information, as if the wind levels get too strong then actions can be put in place for the safety of the public, acts and crew. Also it gives the scope to log and produce wind speed data plans that can be used for risk assessments, insurance etc
Taking my Broadweigh hat off and speaking in my role as rigger/ audio engineer load monitoring is something that should be standard practise. Ideally everything that is being lifted off the ground and hung above peoples/performers heads should have a load shackle on it. The more we know the more we can do to lower the risks. Even if you know you are under weight, hoists move at different speeds, weather and temperature all provide risks along with many other factors. And, just because something looks level doesn’t mean the weight is distributed correctly. Knowing more will cut down set up times.
Perhaps more important than my opinion is the feedback I received from peers and other staff on set who aren’t as familiar with the products as I am. They were amazed at how simple the Bluetooth App was to set up and use, along with the distance achieved with no drops outs considering the Bluetooth traffic at a festival.
Since Glastonbury a couple of colleagues now use Broadweigh as standard practice in their set ups, and I hope, when the festival returns in 2021, they continue to do so. See Bluetooth Load Cells details here.