kudos for great American music hall
Close
News | KUDOs For Great American Music Hall

SAN FRANCISCO, California - January 2006 -- San Francisco’s oldest and grandest nightclub, the Great American Music Hall, upgraded its front-of-house system this past November with the addition of a new L-ACOUSTICS KUDO loudspeaker rig.

Twin arrays, each comprised of five KUDO boxes, now hang over the far left and right sides of the stage directly above two stacks of three SB218 dual-18-inch subs. Two coaxial 115XT HiQ enclosures have also been installed to supply improved coverage to the side balcony seating areas with an additional pair of non-HiQ 115XTs addressing the rear balcony. All L-ACOUSTICS systems are powered by the manufacturer’s LA Series amplification.

According to Jonathan Nelson, co-owner of both the Great American Music Hall and its sibling local venue Slim’s, “This room has never felt anything like what this sound system provides, with the exception of the ’89 earthquake! The KUDOs and subs have easily given us another half-octave of firm bass down below our previous setup, which absolutely engages the entire room, even when we’re only using half of the available headroom. Plus, the sound is so clean and powerful. It makes the space sound extremely intimate – almost like we’re hearing everything on a really high-end set of studio monitors.

Aside from being ideal for louder rock and hip-hop shows, the new system also handles much quieter performances with equal aplomb. “I’ve mixed on just about every box that L-ACOUSTICS makes in all types of venues and they’ve always sounded beautiful across the entire volume spectrum,” notes Lee Brenkman, head of the Music Hall’s sound department and a 34-year employee of the venue. “There are a lot of big concert rigs that sound great if you’re hammering them, but very few of them are also able to handle something delicate. With L-ACOUSTICS speakers, including the KUDOs, I can take finger-picking folk and other acoustic music down to a whisper and the sonic details are still perfectly clear.

Prior to installing the new system, the club had long struggled with delivering adequate coverage and intelligibility to its horseshoe-shaped balcony seating area. “Thanks to the coaxials, the articulation upstairs is massively better than it was,” Brenkman adds. “The patrons in those seats definitely get a much better audio picture than they did with our former stage rig and center cluster system.

So, with not bad seat in the house, Nelson concludes, “I’ve seen literally hundreds of shows at the Music Hall and it has never sounded this good until now. With our new KUDO rig, this is easily the best club system in the Bay Area. We’ve gone from driving a Ford Escort to sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari!

Despite the venue’s intimate capacity of 600, the L-ACOUSTICS system has already been used in its first few months to reinforce a broad spectrum of high-profile artists, including Amos Lee, Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye, Jerry Jeff Walker, Shout Out Louds, Flipsyde, Patty Larkin, Kaki King, Animal Collective, Garaj Mahal, Jane Siberry, Rasputina, American Drag, The Mother Hips, Steve Kimock Band and many others.

The 5,000-square-foot building was originally constructed in 1907 as Blanco’s, a popular restaurant and bordello, following the devastating earthquake and fire of 1906. After serving as a variety of establishments throughout the twentieth century – from a nightclub to a Moose Lodge to a French restaurant – the Great American Music Hall opened under its current moniker in 1972 as a jazz performance venue. Over the ensuing three decades, the hall gradually expanded its musical focus to host an eclectic mix of musicians, from Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie to Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead and Bobby McFerrin. Today, the club’s red and gold baroque interior continues to carry guests back to an earlier, more elegant era with its ornate balconies, soaring marble columns and elaborate ceiling frescoes.