The Electric Love Festival in Salzburg, Austria, is certainly the largest EDM festival in the country and undoubtedly one of the largest in Europe.
The 2019 edition took place in the first few days of July and saw the many stages scattered around the picturesque location. Dispersed between the hills, dozens and dozens of DJs pumped the latest music from their respective genres.
The Main stage, an imposing stage overflowing with stage effects, has welcomed performers of the caliber of Afrojack, Axwell, Diplo, Marshmello, Sven Vath and Tiesto – an undeniably prestigious line-up.
The festival, yet again brought together with impeccable organisation with regards to technical production and logistics, drew nearly 200,000 people over the 3 days. From our point of view, it was incredibly interesting to see how the activity that revolves around this kind of event can bring an economic impact of real importance to a location – not only within the concert areas, but also for local food, beverage and hospitality industries. All these industries contribute exceptional amounts of planning and effort in making this kind of event profitable and commercially viable.
Our invitation was received from leading communications and transport company, Riedel, who played a primary role in the organisation of the festival. Indeed, the company makes it possible for the huge organisational machine to easily access and broadcast information, managing signal flows between the stages and in the various locations across the site.
In order to gain a better understanding of the operations we spoke with the event’s production manager, Revolution Event’s Hannes Schnappinger, alongside Riedel Austria’s Technical Service Manager, Julia Ellinger, in order to to better understand the scope of such a huge project.
Q: Can you give us some numbers and statistics regarding the technical management of the site?
A: The site caters for around 48,000 people per day, across the 8 stages. The main stage is 76 metres wide by 24 metres high, and is supported by 200 tonnes of ballast in order to cope with wind forces that can be experienced here. There are 750 square metres of LED wall on the main stage, with around 1000 lighting fixtures and a large main PA system from L-Acoustics.
Q: Tell us about the communication beltpacks that are working across the stages here.
A: In total there are eight stages here at the festival, with 3 larger stages and 5 smaller stages. The 5 smaller stages have more independent local communications. In total we have 48 Bolero Beltpacks that are distributed across the stages. We have 27 people working on the main stage with Bolero beltpacks, including sound, lighting, video and special fx staff. These units are primarily working alone, with communication internally, but they are also able to communicate with other departments and with the central management of the production for their stages. In addition to this, the three main stages are also connected together via fibre, for example to be warned about weather events or concerns across the site. This allows them to act accordingly in these situations and make adaptations to their shows or staging. It also allows them to keep updated on the movements of individuals and groups around the site, so that they do not panic if there are delays, and can adjust their schedules accordingly. This is the first year that the stages have been interconnected with one another, as well as with the central command centre, known as ECC.
Q: What information comes into and is distributed from the ECC?
A: We have 30 cameras across the site, which feed into the main control centre. We also have the official weather reports for the site entering here. From this central control system, we can feed content and information to the screens across the festival that are not related to the stages, for example general information for the public areas. We also have full communication links from this central control centre, so we can communicate with others on site with Bolero beltpacks. We also monitor feedback from visitors to the festival here, with information being intelligently collected from social media platforms, as well as broadcasting footage from the festival across these platforms. It’s worth noting that this building is constructed specifically for this event, it is not ordinarily here as part of the racetrack setup.
Q: Tell us about some more interesting logistics on site?
A: One of the most interesting factors is that we require around 200,000 litres of water everyday simply to cool the racetrack. Every square metre of racetrack is incredibly expensive, so we have to ensure that damage does not occur to it by overheating.
Q: Are there any particular logistical struggles here on site? What is the hardest part of your job?
A: Our main struggle here is time management, because we have only one road into the infield. All trucks have to travel via this road, and it is not possible for two trucks to pass one another. Because of this, we have in and out time slots for every truck, with very fast unloading required. Even with this rapid schedule, it takes one and a half weeks to unload the show, and then six days to set everything up. The hardest part of my job is the final days leading up to the opening of the festival. There is no room for error here, everything has to be ready for that opening day, so this is the most demanding period for me.
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