Landmark event has set new health and safety benchmarks for conducting live events in post-COVID world.
With governments in the UAE and other Middle East countries taking commendable actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, confidence is gradually returning to the market, which in turn is paving the way for live events – which were conspicuously absent for the significant portion of last year – to make a comeback. In line with its #DontStopTheMusic initiative, Sennheiser was quick to extend its support, expertise, and equipment to Breakout DXB, the highly successful two-day live music festival held at the Rove Downtown in Dubai, UAE in the last quarter of 2020.
The brainchild of the Dan Bolton Creative Management Agency and Lobito Brigante, this event featured an impressive roster of local talent including Dubai-based R&B artist, Layla Kardan; Saudi hip-hop star, Big Hass; and Emirati artist, Hamdan Al Abri. Events production company, 3DB, provided all the equipment for the show which included 32 channels of wireless mics from the Sennheiser 300 and 500 series as well as 12 channels of in-ear monitors (IEMs). In addition to precise and faithful audio reproduction, the wireless nature of this system ensured all performers could conveniently follow the safety precautions that the organizers had meticulously crafted and implemented.
COVID-19 Safety Measures Take Center Stage
Special consideration was taken to ensure social distancing could be maintained. Key to keeping artists safe was ensuring that they touched any equipment, they could rest assured that it was thoroughly sterilized. Microphone sanitization was conducted through a UV sanitation process, which 3DB expects will become standard practice. The company has invested in two complete UVR sanitization systems which include flight cases, each with three draws and a timer. The 360-degree sanitization of a rack can be carried out in under 5 minutes.
“It was fantastic to see an event such as this go ahead in what has been such a challenging period for the whole industry. It was a superb weekend, and the organisers, suppliers and artists deserve a great deal of credit for that. We hope this is just the start of the industry getting back to where it needs to be,” said Steve Kearney of Gallowglass.
“It was great to offer the level of expert support that Gallowglass was able to provide. Our team strives always to be helpful, offering an extra pair of hands and ensuring that everything and everybody felt that they were in a safe and measured environment. The backup and reassurance that Gallowglass provided meant that pretty much every possible scenario had been thought about and planned for,” he added.
“Social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitization – things like these are all challenging to what we would normally associate with a festival and they can lead to the environment feeling a bit stale and clinical at first, because we’re not used to having to do these things. But we tried to minimise that feeling as much as possible and made sure everyone was safe and enjoying their time at the same time. Putting on an event right in the middle of a global pandemic was not the easiest but we did it and showed people that it can be done! There are so many restrictions and so many things that people are used to seeing or doing at events that are different now or simply can no longer happen. This was definitely a nice first step. I feel that we pushed the boundaries and I hope that we have helped in some way to get things going again,” said Dan Bolton of Dan Bolton Creative Management Agency.
“I felt very safe knowing that all the equipment was sanitized before and after the performance and all the social distancing measures were adhered to. I appreciated that the health and safety of each artist and guest were taken seriously to prevent any COVID-19 related cases.
I think it is so important to continue to have events like this because live performances bring the community together. I was very impressed with all the safety measures that were taken and how efficient and organized the event was for something that was the first of its kind. I’m excited to see how Breakout DXB grows into an internationally recognized name,” said Emirati Artist, Fafa.
“Given the high calibre of artists, there were high expectations of the equipment for the event. As a long-term Sennheiser partner, 3DB was well aware that our wireless microphones and IEM’s could deliver on every requirement,” said Ryan Burr, Head of Technical Sales & Application Engineering, Professional Audio at Sennheiser Middle East. “We also extended our expertise through the set-up and testing stages. Many of these artists hadn’t performed live in several months this diligence helped ensure everything went off without a hitch.”
Sennheiser’s WSM manager helped ensure that all frequencies were allocated and mapped correctly. Despite the show being held in Downtown Dubai – an area with especially high levels of noise and traffic which can potentially bleed into the RF spectrum – there wasn’t a single RF conflict through the three days of the event. “It was a good learning curve from our point of view – we had 2 sterilization systems (A and B) and now going forward, every live event needs to have a sterilization kit. We used a ULV Fogging machine which contained sanitization solution to sanitize everything in-between. We are very aware that if we have one outbreak at an event, then everything will have to stop and shut down,” said Eddie Mulrainy, Managing Director at 3DB.
Following the success of this event, Sennheiser expects a positive outlook for the live events industry in the Middle East in the coming year. “There’s no doubt that the market has experienced unprecedented challenges through 2020. But as Breakout DXB has effectively demonstrated, careful planning, coordination with key government and healthcare authorities, and the utilization of world-class equipment can in fact provide the formula for the industry to make a comeback,” said Burr.
Through the initial months of the pandemic, Sennheiser demonstrated a strong commitment to performers and artists by hosting a series of virtual concerts that enabled fans to attend via their smart devices, no matter where in the world they were based. “We will continue to focus on our live events business as event production companies find new and creative ways to conduct engaging live events. Given our large global presence and involvement in such events across a large number of geographies, we’re especially keen to share best-practices as this will be key to ensuring not only the quality but as importantly the safety of events in the new normal,” concluded Burr.