The stars came out in force for I Am the Highway: A Tribute to Chris Cornell, a fundraising concert held at the Forum in Los Angeles on 16 January.
The five-hour show was anchored by extended sets from members of three of the bands that Cornell fronted – Soundgarden, Temple of the Dog, and Audioslave – and featured performances by Metallica, Foo Fighters, The Melvins, and others. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the show also featured an extensive list of guests, including Jack Black, Brad Pitt, Brandi Carlile, Fiona Apple, Josh Homme, Miley Cyrus, Adam Levine, Chris Stapleton, and Ziggy Marley, who all paid tribute to the musician who suffered from depression, which led him to take his life in May of 2017.
Rat was asked to participate in the benefit and has a long history of working with Soundgarden, dating back to the band’s tour with Danzig in 1990. “The event presented some complex challenges, which we enjoyed overcoming,” reports Tom Worley, account manager for Rat Sound Systems who provided an L-Acoustics K1/K2 line array system with KS28 subs, together with five DiGiCo and two Avid mixing consoles plus an Avid multi-track recording rig.
Rat Sound spent three days at the venue and fielded 15 crewmembers to handle setup, onsite rehearsals, and the show. “It was a special event for a good cause,” says Worley, “and we were thrilled to be a part of it.”
The L-Acoustics PA comprised, per side, 12 K1 arrays over six K2 for the main hangs and eight K1 over four K2 for the side hangs. Thirteen additional K2 per side provided coverage out to 270 degrees in the sold-out arena, which seats nearly 18,000. Rat Sound also flew nine KS28 subwoofers in a cardioid configuration per side, supplemented by another 20 KS28 subs on the floor. Eight ARCS II and eight Kara II cabinets provided front-fill.
A stage thrust offered space for acoustic ensembles and soloists to perform while the backline was being changed over for the main bands on the turntable stage behind them, says Worley. “We had some L-Acoustics X15 HiQ wedges across the front of that thrust that handled all of the acoustic acts.”
Side-fill on either side of the main stage comprised two ARCS II and a pair of KS28 subs. “It’s a nice configuration with a low profile, so the promoters liked it,” Worley says.
Greg Nelson, long-time FOH mixer for Pearl Jam, who also mixed the 2016 Temple of the Dog reunion tour, manned a DiGiCo SD5 for full-length performances by Soundgarden and Temple of the Dog, with a second SD5 handling monitors for both bands.
DiGiCo SD12 consoles at FOH and the stage were used to mix the acoustic acts as well as the production elements, such as the host mic and video segments played between performances. One of the night’s highlights was Ryan Adams performing Cornell’s Dead Wishes and Soundgarden’s Fell on Black Days on acoustic guitar with several string players, including Don Was on acoustic bass, Worley reports.
Rat Sound also archived audio for the entire concert, which encompassed a total of 42 songs. The company used Avid VENUE S6L desks for the multitrack recording.
Proceeds from the concert were split between the Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation, which was established by the singer and his wife to protect and provide for vulnerable children worldwide, and the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.