Gearhouse scores a Hat-trick

Feb 28, 2019


Delivering comprehensive technical solution services for a large-format arena production is never a simple undertaking. Delivering three world-class arena events, in the space of a week, in the same venue, is Herculean by anybody’s account. The Gearhouse Group of companies proved their mettle in December last year by achieving just that at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. ETECH takes a look at how they accomplished this outstanding achievement.

Taking on the world

The Gearhouse Group is the leading technical solutions and services provider for the live entertainment and events markets in South Africa – having provided turnkey solutions for clients across Africa for almost three decades. The company has been relied on for technical solutions for almost all touring artists visiting the country since 1991, and are known internationally for their technical expertise, willingness to go the extra mile and can-do attitude. The company reaffirmed this reputation in recent months by successfully providing technical services to three of the largest events to be hosted at the FNB stadium in recent years – and all in the space of one week.

Gearhouse Johannesburg branch operations manager Stuart Andrews details how it came about that the events were scheduled in such close succession – a situation that culminated in “all the interested parties agreeing to stage all three events in very close succession, with the understanding that they would collaborate closely to make it all work.”

While most technical solution service providers would baulk at such an undertaking, Andrews points out that, at the time, the decision seemed to work in their favour. “This arrangement actually suited us because we were able to capitalise on the fact that we could build a large portion of the stage, load in the generators and rig the sound system once – and use this infrastructure for all three events – including Beyoncé’s OTR II tour, which basically ran as a separate production on the back of the Global Citizen Festival programme.”

Although Andrews reflects that, “In hindsight – had we known how complicated Beyoncé’s production was going to prove – we may have reconsidered the decision,” ETECH discovers how all three events were expertly executed by The Gearhouse Group, who created nothing less than a new South African production standard in the process.

Gearing up for success

According to Gearhouse’s Jako de Wit, who served as project manager for the National Day of Prayer, Guns ‘N Roses and the Global Citizen Festival, “When we received the OTR II tour rider from Beyonce’s production team, we decided to expand our existing inventory of L-Acoustics to ensure that we were able to deliver on the rider without having to compromise.”

Andrews explains that Gearhouse, therefore, made a significant investment in new audio equipment to supplement their already impressive L-Acoustics inventory. “We purchased 12 boxes of L-Acoustics K1, to bring our total count from 36 to 48. We also invested in a complete L-Acoustics K2 series system to meet the various audio riders for Guns N’ Roses, the Global Citizen Festival and Beyoncé’s OTR II tour,” Andrews points out. He adds that “it is worth noting that we have invested in 28 subs and LA12X amps, to bring the K1 system up to the KS standard.”

De Wit explains that the new K2 system will live in Cape Town – and so will ensure that all three branches of Gearhouse (Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg) will be able to supply complete L-Acoustics systems for events where nothing but the very best in live sound quality will do.

“Investing in the K1 system means that we can deliver on international riders that require the KS standard, and this makes everything a lot easier. Audio designers will base their designs on a complete 48-box system, and in the past, we have had to make certain compromises. That won’t happen anymore – now we’ve got the equipment to accommodate any design,” Andrews concludes.

A collaborative effort

The Gearhouse Group prides itself on being a single organisation that, through its various divisions, is able to provide clients with a turnkey solution for their events. At no time has this been more evident than during the week leading up to the Global Citizen Festival.

“One of the guiding principles behind the Gearhouse group is that we pride ourselves on working as a team,” Andrews points out. “Every subsidiary within the Group, in this instance, including Gearhouse South Africa, Sets Drapes Screens (SDS), LEDVision and In2Structures, has a critical role to play in achieving this run of events and staff members from all over the country, including our Durban and Cape Town branches, came to lend a hand. We are extremely proud of our team and what we have achieved,” Andrews concludes.

De Wit echoes these sentiments by stating: “While I was the project manager for all three events, it is far too big a job for one person – and without the entire team behind me, and the willingness of all of the production teams and crews involved working tirelessly to achieve a unified goal, we would never have achieved success.”

International accolades

The Gearhouse Group has proven beyond a doubt that they have the ability to deliver at the highest international standards, as confirmed by Global Citizen Project Events Director, David Beame.

“I have to say that working with Mushroom Productions and all of the companies of the Gearhouse Group has been amazing. I can say without question – based on my extensive experience working with technical suppliers all over the world – that they are truly world-class,” he told ETECH in a telephonic interview in the days leading up to the event.

This sentiment was echoed by the world-renowned tour manager and run-of-show producer for the Global Citizen Festival, Tina Farris. Speaking at a presentation organised by the SA Roadies Association in Newtown, Johannesburg, Farris said: “I have worked with technical suppliers all over the world, and the Gearhouse team compare with the best in the industry – on a global scale. It has been a pleasure working with them.”

Story reprinted from ETECH magazine, Photo TPMEA

The Gearhouse Group of Companies