NEW ZEALAND

2 May 2024

The National Returns to NZ on the Tightest of Timeframes

by Jenny Barrett

Oceania conquers the Desert Road – twice

Brooklyn-based indie rock band The National returned to New Zealand in February, playing back-to-back shows at either end of Te Ika-a-Māui, first in Auckland and then Wellington. Oceania took on full production, supporting the band’s return to international touring, following the release of two acclaimed new albums.

James Mackenzie, General Manager of NW Group NZ, recalls, “It was great to hear from Rob Jefferson [founder of Solid Entertainment] about his upcoming tour with The National. Oceania and Solid Entertainment have a great working relationship going back a good few years. We have worked with Rob on numerous shows and tours.”

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Rob contacted Oceania looking for a sound, lighting, and vision package, “It developed into a full service production management role with Oceania taking care of all aspects of the local production. We organised the equipment, both the touring and local loader crews, venue liaison, rigging sign off and a comprehensive logistics plan. Brent Greenwood took on Production Manager.”

As this was the start of an Australasian run and the first shows for the band in a few months, The National crew wanted to spend a day in a rehearsal studio to go through their gear and get everything sorted for the start of this run. Brent takes up the story, “We provided a rehearsal studio and production office space from our Auckland based facility and managed the logistics of receiving the touring gear. The rehearsal day went really well and it was a great chance for the local crew to meet the touring crew and put the months of pre-production into action. The National crew were able to do a full setup of the stage system and integrate their touring gear with the locally supplied equipment.”

The biggest challenge for Brent and Oceania was that Auckland and Wellington were back- to-back shows, “It meant an overnight drive across the Desert Road for the production, which consisted of three semi-trailer trucks, courtesy of On Tour Logistics, who handled the Oceania equipment, and Production Transport Services, who took care of The National’s touring freight. I carefully devised a plan of sending a truckload of gear from Auckland to Wellington the day before the Wellington show to prebuild some of the rig on the show day before the overnight trucks turned up. Emil from The National crew, along with Deen and Don from Oceania, flew to Wellington once the Auckland rig was all going to manage this prebuild phase of the day. This meant both crews walked into a venue with motors floating ready for the rig to be attached and flown.”

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The TSB Arena tested the crew in the way only a sports stadium can and Brent appreciated the local knowledge of the Oceania Wellington office: “The show is visually stunning with a meticulously designed and operated light show, backed up by epic visuals on the LED screen. Getting the right trim heights in the Arena meant the riggers needed to pay particular attention to getting as much height out of the rig as possible.”

The audio techs also got to strut their stuff, “The asymmetric seating of the TSB Arena provided the audio team with a little hurdle to jump in terms of different box counts for the flown outfills in the venue. Using the d&b ArrayCalc software, Pou and Jacob were easily able to factor this into their PA design and the end result was a fantastic sounding show. Making use of the ArrayCalc software as part of the design process makes deploying a system under very tight time frames a lot more manageable. The points, box angles, and trim heights onsite match the ArrayCalc design so all that is required on the day is to check your time and phase alignment, do a tune and hand over to the touring engineer to work his magic.”

The post show logistics required focus too, “The National’s next show was in Brisbane on the Wednesday after Sunday’s Wellingtonshow. All the crew hustled to get the rig down, in the truck and back across the Desert Road, all in good time to allow the touring gear to make it back to Auckland on Monday morning.”

The end result of Oceania’s hard work and expertise was a nearly sold out show in Wellington that captivated audiences, that sounded and looked amazing, and had great reviews. James sums it all up, “It gave the punters a great night out which is the driving factor of what Oceania does on a daily basis.”

For James and Oceania the pride comes from being able to take a phone call, some dates, and a rider, and put together a couple of shows that went off without a hitch.


The Gear

Audio

d&b J-Series with D80 amps, J-Subs / J infras, Q7 fills, Dolby Lake LM44s, S6L consoles, PSM1000 IEMs, Shure Axient radio mics

Lighting

Robe BMFL Spots, Robe BMFL Blades, Robe Spiiders, Martin MAC Auras, GLP X4 Bars, Ayrton Magic Panels, GrandMA3 (backup console), ColorStrike M Strobes

LED Screen

12m x 5.5m Absen 2.9mm screen

NovaStar controller (all other control touring from The National)

Rigging / Staging

40 motors comprising a selection of 0.5T, 1T and 2T CM Lodestar motors, F34, F44 and F54 Truss elements, Showquip rolling risers

NZ Touring Crew

  • James MacKenzie – Account Manager
  • Brent Greenwood – Production Manager
  • Pounamu O’Brien – Audio HOD, System Tech
  • Cathal McDonagh – FOH Tech (AKL show)
  • Arni Agar – Monitor Engineer
  • Matt Faccioni – Patch, Stage
  • Jacob Burn – FOH, System Tech (WEL show)
  • Ash Scott – Lighting HOD, System Tech
  • Lucas Story – FOH Tech
  • Josh Swain – LX Tech
  • Deen Abu Bakar – Vision HOD, LED Rigger Geof Walsh – Vision Tech
  • Michael Davis – LED Tech Don McCallum – Rigger
  • Jacob Eliason – WEL Production Assist

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