NILES, IL, January 4, 2011 — For many music fans, just saying the name “KC & the Sunshine Band” brings back memories of the heady fusion between funk and dance music that dominated the pop charts in the 70s and 80s. Architects of such iconic #1 hits as “That’s The Way (I Like It),” “Get Down Tonight,” “Boogie Shoes,” and many others, the band is still performing today, still led by founder Harry “KC” Wayne Casey and playing up to 100 shows a year.
While the band’s shows are rooted in their extensive catalog of past hits, the show itself is a state-of-the-art production, including 13 musicians, two dancers, and a full sound and lighting package. When faced with the need to replace the group’s in-ear monitor systems to comply with new FCC rules, the band’s monitor engineer, Chad Griswold, began shopping around.
“The 700 MHz issue was the trigger. The new Shure PSM 900 was just being released at the time, so I decided to check it out,” he states. “I got a demo from my Shure rep and took them out to a show, which was a great opportunity to compare apples to apples against our other systems. Sonically, it’s crisp and clear, and it has more output than the brand we had been using. I love having that extra headroom available. And that’s without even considering all the features on the technical side. When you put things side by side, sometimes the purchase decision becomes really obvious.”
KC and the Sunshine Band is a true national act, maintaining two full sets of wireless gear – one in the band’s Florida base, the other at Griswold’s Mastermind Production Group Inc. in Anaheim, California. “KC and the Sunshine Band perform at a wide variety of venues, catering to a diverse population of audiences. Our gigs range from large corporate events to summer festivals and the high-end casino market,” notes Chad, “and it’s important that we have our full complement of wireless available.”
That rig includes six channels of Shure UHF-R® wireless and eight channels of PSM 900. “Three of the UHF-R systems are handheld Beta 58As for the backing vocals, and the others are bodypack systems for guitar, bass, and KC’s headset mic, which is the classic Crown CM311 that he’s been using forever. In fact, that’s one of only two inputs on the whole stage that’s not a Shure mic.”
In addition to Harry “KC” Wayne Casey and the backing vocalists, the show band includes original band member Fermin Goytisolo on percussion, along with a drummer, guitarist, two keyboardists, a bass, and a four-piece horn section. All are on IEMs. “It’s really a great show band,” says Griswold. “It’s full of energy and captivating for audiences of all ages. The show is like a train. Once it starts rolling, no one can stop it. It’s total entertainment.”
Griswold became an instant fan of the many ways in which his new PSM 900 system helped keep the train rolling under control. “The musicians and singers love it,” he says. “After the first sound check, my lead backing vocalist, who shall we say is very firm in her opinions, came up and said she absolutely loved it, that it was crisper and sounded clearer to her. As any monitor engineer will tell you, that’s huge.”
The ease of setup and operation were another revelation. “Shure has just added so many features that make my life easier. Frequency scanning and sync are incredibly fast, and I love the fact that the system transfers all of the information, including the names and limiter settings,” he notes. “And having the ability to shut down the RF while keeping the transmitter powered up is a great feature for an engineer, as is Cue Mode. Now I can walk the stage with one pack before the show and make sure everyone has a clear channel and full coverage. It’s incredibly user friendly.”
Of course, the biggest issue for any group on the road is ruggedness and reliability, and Griswold gives the PSM 900 high marks in that area as well. “We’ve had these systems out in all kinds of conditions, including outdoor shows in 106-degree heat and 80 percent humidity, and I can honestly say there hasn’t been a glitch,” he reports. “The bodypacks are solid and compact; the belt clips are nice and tight. Combine that with that crisp, clear sound, the solid RF, and all of its features, and there’s really no area the PSM 900 doesn’t excel in. As KC might put it, that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, we like it.”