Concert Systems USA Rebuilds After Katrina with Meyer Sound MICA and M'elodie
By now, just about everyone knows someone with a Hurricane Katrina story; the tales of shattered lives, homes and businesses are, sadly, all too commonplace. However, Concert Systems USA's Katrina story is a triumphant tale of determination. With a new system of self-powered MICA compact and M'elodie ultracompact high-power curvilinear array loudspeakers from Meyer Sound, the company was able to face down the odds and come back bigger, better and stronger than ever.
Randy and Candi Frierson had spent more than 15 years building Concert Systems USA in Gulfport, Miss., when the infamous storm struck the Gulf Coast. The tempest destroyed not only much of their inventory, but their biggest customers as well. "Better than half of our business was with the casinos in the Biloxi–Gulfport area," recalls Randy Frierson, "and Katrina came along and wiped them all out."
Having lost their own new home as well as much of their business, the Friersons vowed to rebuild, even though it meant using their personal savings. "Several of our employees also lost their homes, and I didn't want them to lose their jobs too," Frierson explains. "I knew we had to keep it together." Operating out of its smaller, regional warehouse in Tampa, Fla., the company reopened using what gear they had been able to salvage.
As they faced the challenge of reestablishing the business in Florida, the Friersons began rebuilding their inventory. "We did a lot of research and a lot of shopping," Frierson says. "We knew we'd be the new kids in town, and we had to have something special to offer. Candi really liked Meyer Sound — not just the gear, but their whole approach. From Galileo to the LD-3 to the bumper bars and dolly frames, it's a well thought out, total system concept."
A few months after the move, the Friersons bought their MICA rig and immediately put it to use at the British Virgin Islands Festival. "We got rave reviews on the sound," Frierson reports. "We knew right then we'd made the right choice." The system is now on the multi-city "Boogie Blast" tour with one of Concert Systems USA's longstanding clients, '70s legends KC and the Sunshine Band. "We've gone out with them every year, but this tour is one of their biggest," says Frierson.
The band is touring with 12 MICA cabinets and six 600-HP compact high-power subwoofers per side. "I'd originally wanted to take eight 600-HPs per side, and had to cut it down to make space in the trucks," Frierson remarks. "As it turns out, six per side is more than enough." Four UPJ-1P compact VariO loudspeakers provide frontfill, while nine M'elodie cabinets are groundstacked on either side for supplemental sidefill coverage.
Concert Systems' MICA rig inspired enough confidence for them to decide to buy the M'elodie cabinets on faith. "Based on the sound of the MICA rig, we bought the M'elodies sight unseen," he enthuses.
The loudspeakers are driven from a Galileo loudspeaker management system. "We usually use the Galileo to create three zones per side," Frierson explains. "Depending on the hall, we'll sometimes create multiple zones for the subs to create a cardioid pattern. It gives us a ton of flexibility."
Frierson gives Meyer Sound high marks for support. "Meyer Sound people come from production backgrounds, and they really understand what we do, because they've done it themselves," says Frierson. "They have gone far above and beyond what anyone could expect. They've been there for us heart and soul."
A year after Katrina, Concert Systems USA is still working to rebuild. But as Frierson notes, things have turned a corner, thanks in no small part to their newfound association with Meyer Sound. "We're getting so many calls and so much new business just on the basis of being able to offer Meyer gear. It's amazing the doors that have opened for us. This whole crazy year has been like a blur, and Meyer has just been a shining star for us. I'm not gonna say it was easy, but we're recovering."