AVA Festival made a storming return to Belfast’s Titanic Slipways on 3-4 June, living up to its name with two days of audio, visuals and art, wrapped around a dynamic programme of electronic and live alternative music. Sunshine and 16,000 partygoers flooded the iconic setting, where Hertz-U Soundsystem delivered Funktion-One sound across the festival’s two performance spaces, including a debut outing for Vero VX on the Main Stage.
Since launching in 2015, AVA has earned its reputation as one of the leading electronic music and arts festivals in the UK and Ireland. This year’s line-up brimmed with local and international talent, including homecomers Bicep, Biig Piig, Mura Masa, Jon Hopkins and Sherelle.
“There is something very special about bringing together many minds, energies and artists in a city like Belfast,” says Founder and Creative Director Sarah McBriar. “It’s an explosion of joy – an atmosphere wrapped up in ‘yeos’ and arms punching the air from the moment we open the doors. Our city and our people are as much a part of the line-up as each artist we put on the bill.”
This year saw a step up, both in terms of audience size and production requirements, with more live acts than ever before. Hertz-U Soundsystem answered this with left and right hangs of Funktion-One Vero VX combined with F124 bass on the Main Stage, and ground stacked Evo 7EH, F215 mid-bass and F218 bass for Boiler Room.
Discussing the company’s maiden deployment of Vero VX, Hertz-U Soundsystem’s Founder Collie Doyle says: “We were blown away. First of all with the rigging system – it goes together so nicely and the fact that you can change angles while its flown is very useful. Not that we needed to – the Projection software was so accurate for setting angles and for specifying rigging points and array weight. The laser on the top bumper and motorised beam means changing angles and knowing where you are pointing just completes the package.”
On Vero VX’s audio performance, Doyle adds: “We listened to a lot of different music over the weekend and we just love the sound. It’s so detailed – live vocals sound fantastic – and using that high crossover point to the HF gives you a very clean, low distortion listening experience.”
Hertz-U Soundsystem has supplied the festival’s Funktion-One sound since day one and, in that time, Doyle has become a key member of the production team. On the choice of sound system and supplier, McBriar explains: “It is the best in the business and Collie is part of the AVA DNA, so putting the two together is a perfect combination for us. We have been approached by many others, but we always feel happy with the sound and management year on year.”
AVA’s Senior Producer David McDonogh adds: “It’s hard to articulate how important our ongoing relationship with Hertz-U is. Collie has been with us from the start. Always going the extra mile and some, for the sake of the sound and show. This passion for quality is a perfect match for our ethos and we wouldn’t be able to deliver and expand each year without this shared mindset. We have been through a lot together and have delivered some of the biggest names in dance music.”
Discussing the evolution of the festival programme and choice of sound system, McDonogh explains: “Given our heritage with electronic/dance music, we had been adamant that we have Funktion-One sound across each stage in previous iterations of the festival. That said, as our programming diversifies, I was a little apprehensive given the type of touring acts coming through.
“We were really keen to stay true and hear the Vero VX in action. The combination of the system capabilities and the hard work of Richie and Dave from Collie’s team resulted in a super clean, dynamic and punchy sound. Compared to other sound systems often spec’d for live, I was really delighted with the results and, moving forward, I am now confident in maintaining Funktion-One sound across the festival.”
The AVA team now turns its attention to the next instalment of AVA London in March 2023, as well as various club shows, stage takeovers and panel discussions across Ireland, UK, and Europe. AVA Belfast returns in 2023 – details to be announced.